For the last 1.5 years I’ve been recovering and doing rehab for major shoulder surgery. I had a torn rotator cuff, torn labrum, torn bicep tendon repaired on the right shoulder on Valentine’s Day 2019. The last time I hit a golf ball was November of 2018 at TPC Danzante Bay. Following the surgery I suffered from frozen shoulder, an extremely annoying and painful condition where scar tissue and inflammation makes recovering from the surgery difficult. The shoulder was very tight, sore, and highly reactive in a negative way to rehab or general use. Thanks to my latest passion, mountain biking, I broke up most of the scar tissue and have enjoyed about a month of pain-free shoulder. So I finally got some confidence to start swinging the clubs again.
Thinks to some lucky timing, I managed to have my first round back on the course at one of my favorite courses, Sand Hollow. Golf blog buddy John Duval of Into The Grain was working the ALD long drive event in Mesquite, Nevada so I thought it would be great to drive down and meet up with him. He already had Sand Hollow on his agenda, which helped make my decision very easy.
The round went as expected in terms of rust and bad shots. I had low expectations. I did hit a lot of fairways, but alas, my driving distance has been greatly reduced. My irons also are now 1-2 clubs shorter. I don’t have the club head speed I used to. I did manage to record my first birdie of the decade, on the par-4 15th hole after knocking a gap wedge approach to about 10 inches. I also managed many other shots I wish not to discuss, or remember.
Unfortunately my back tweaked on the 3rd tee and from that point on the rest of the trip, finishing a golf swing produced a stabbing muscle pain. Real lame. Golf is hard on the body, and most golfers know we use muscles and combinations of muscles that are not used elsewhere.
On the way south the day before the round, I used my drone to catch some new images of the golf course. I was one of the first ever to fly a drone over Sand Hollow way back around 2013 or 14. It was nice to get some cleaner shots (first photo).
On the 2nd day we played Falcon Ridge. The back was pretty unhappy and that made it so I couldn’t stay down. It was a defensive move to keep from having that stabbing pain. The result unfortunately was a lot of thin shots and dribblers. Really horrible stuff. Throw in a couple of shanks too. Well, three actually. Yikes. I’m bummed the back couldn’t take it.
Falcon was fun despite the back pain, with Duval and my buddy Guy Lester from my River Oaks days. I reached a par-5 in two with two three-woods and made a nice 2-putt birdie. That’s the highlight of the day.
I managed some drone flights around numerous golf courses in Utah and Nevada while on the trip. Some of the photos are pretty amazing. Some photos prove that a lame golf course doesn’t necessarily look cool with drone photos.
I’ll post a few more aerials in future posts.
Golf is hard. Hard on the body. By the end of the two days I had some major back pain and a nasty blister on my right heel. But thankfully the right shoulder held up fine. There was a tiny bit of soreness but that’s just about gone.
I need to evaluate what golf means to me at this point. In order for me to get back to the level of playing I was once at, it will take a lot of time, practice, effort, money. Do I want to do that? Or do I simply want to become a casual golfer that plays a few times a year? Can I stand to play bogey golf? That’s what it would be. It’s hard to play at a high level (for amateurs that is), then find satisfaction from playing at a lower level. It’s like playing $100 per had blackjack in Vegas. When you go back to $5 per hand it is just plain boring.
It’s going to be interesting to see where this ends up.
Day three of the golf buddy trip Ryder Cup competition in Mesquite, Nevada this past weekend was at Falcon Ridge Golf Club. I had not played there for many years. Falcon Ridge has some, shall we say, “extreme” holes similar to nearby Wolf Creek. There are also some Mickey Mouse holes (as described by a member of our group) which would make golf architecture purists reach for a barf bag. Overall it is a fun play though.
Below, a par-5 on the back which has a massive elevation drop. The photo does not capture how big the drop is. Mega air time.
Below: a panorama of the par-3 2nd hole.
For more Falcon Ridge images check out the HOG Falcon Ridge photo gallery.
On my recent golf buddy Ryder Cup competition/trip I played three golf courses in Mesquite, Nevada. Mesquite is located on the Nevada/Arizona border, 58 miles northeast of Las Vegas. One of the courses I played this past trip is the 18 hole Casablanca Golf Club, which is associated with the Casablanca Hotel. That’s one of the nicer places in town.
Casablanca Golf Club is a desert style course which is fairly tight and requires some accurate tee shots. Below are a few photos for your enjoyment, or golf buddy trip/golf trip research.
Below is the first hole, a short-ish par-4 that dogs slightly right. Stay out of the desert!
Below is the 18th hole. I made a solid birdie there by knocking a wedge to about two feet. Nice to end on a positive note.
For more Casablanca photos check out the Hooked on Golf Blog Casablanca Photo Gallery.
The Hooked On Golf Blog World Tour made a quick stop to enjoy the very warm weather of Mesquite, Nevada this past weekend. After enduring the largest snowstorm of the year in Salt Lake, it was time to get out of dodge. The golf was a side-trip though, as I was in town to attend and honor a golf buddy and disabled Iraq war veteran at a local fundraiser.
This trip there was more than golf gear in the HOG Tour Van. Along for the ride this time was the big hexacopter (drone) I built for capturing photos and videos of golf courses from above. I managed to snap some nice pictures ahead of the morning groups Saturday, as well as some nice video clips like the par-5 5th hole video below.
Below is a photo of the par-4 6th hole which goes into a very cool desert canyon bowl.
I’ve played golf in some amazing places, from Scotland to Mexico to all over north America. But some of the most amazing golf courses, like Coral Canyon Golf Course, are right here in my back yard, Utah. I’ve had the pleasure of playing “Coral” many times and I never pass up a chance to experience it.
Coral Canyon is located a few minutes north of the St. George golf mecca in southwestern Utah. Nearby attractions other than golf include Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Cedar Breaks. This area of the state is what some call “red rock country” or “color country.” Desert red rock plateaus, red sandstone, desert vegetation and red sand cover the landscape contrasting beautifully with the green grass of Coral’s fairways.
Given the location in southern Utah, Coral is open all year, but temperatures in the summer can reach well over 100 degrees. The last time I played the course was June 21, 2011 and the temperature was 108 when I teed off at 6:00pm.
Coral Canyon’s design is aesthetically breathtaking. Bring your camera. There are massive elevation changes from tee to fairway and from fairway to green, with forced carries over red desert areas and washes. Course architect Keith Foster did a fantastic job utilizing the complex terrain and routing the course through it.
Many of the tee shots at Coral are what I call “wow” spots.
When I arrive on many tees on this course, like #1 pictured above, I look all around and then say “wow.” The elevated tee shot on #10 (below) is absolutely thrilling and another “wow” spot with a massive elevation drop. Drives from the tips on this hole appear to be in the air for somewhere between 27-34 minutes.
There are many risk-reward scenarios at Coral from the tee. Fairways can run out like on the par-5 2nd hole. You can choose a shorter club than driver or 3-wood off the tee to stay safe and short of the wash, but that turns it into a 3-shot hole. More aggressive players you can try to get as close to the wash as possible and having a chance at reaching the green in two.
Hole #8 is a short par-4 which is drivable at 312 yards from the tips. I’ve hit everything from driver to 7-iron off of this tee. Choosing the aggressive route requires more accuracy. An errant drive could find the hillside right and a tough recovery shot or massive bunkering short left of the green. Great hole.
The fairways at Coral are quite large and wide, though they can sometimes look small and narrow from the tee. Many fairways are reached only after forced carries from the tee.
Though the fairways are wide, I still seem to manage missing my share at Coral. There’s not much “rough” here, just a few feet and it historically hasn’t been very deep or penal. But missing a fairway beyond the rough brings into play serious trouble, lost balls, unplayable lies and lots of first hand encounters with the thousands of rabbits which inhabit the course.
The greens at Coral Canyon are fun and challenging. Many have subtle breaks with one or two larger tiers or quadrants. Finding the proper level in those cases is crucial to scoring, like on the par-3 3rd hole which has a massive tier dissecting the green into two distinct surfaces. Balls which hit the green in regulation but don’t find the proper level on greens like #1, #3, #18, suddenly become very challenging two-putts.
Coral Canyon’s amenities are all top notch. Everything a golfer needs is there from a great driving range, practice green to great food. The pro shop offers great golf equipment, rental clubs, club fitting and sells some great threads which sport the Coral Canyon logo.
In addition to the pro-shop and restaurant, the clubhouse is also features a men’s and women’s locker room as well as wedding/banquet facilities.
Sets of tees: 5
Length from tips: 7,029 yards
Course rating: 73.0
I’ve played nearly every course in this beautiful state, and Coral Canyon is ranked right up at the top with a few very special courses. If you are planning a golf trip to Southern Utah, Mesquite Nevada or even Las Vegas (two hour drive), you should make it a point to play Coral Canyon.
Hooked On Golf Blog Coral Canyon Image Gallery