6,455 yards, 124 Slope from the Blues

Course:  The next stop for me out in La Quinta was the GCLQ.  Formerly the “Trilogy” golf course, it was built in 2002 by Gary Panks.  Panks has designed a number of courses out West and a few in Canada, including Grayhawk and the Raven in Phoenix.  GCLQ hosted the PGA Skins tourney from 2003 – 06.  The Skins tees are still there, topping out at 7,174 yards and a 131 slope.  Many of the big names, including Tiger and Annika, have teed it up here, so why not run a Skins game of your own and play from the Skins tees just like them?  Just make sure you have the game and distance to take on 7K yards.  It would probably be a long day for me.

GCLQ is a nice resort type course.  There really aren’t any desert waste areas that I came across at Silver Rock.  In fact, the course really doesn’t indicate desert golf all that much.  Instead, you get generous fairways and greens, creative bunkering, mild rolling terrain and a healthy dose of water hazards.  Most of the time though, hitting it off the fairways means you’re wet or you’re in heavy bush/vegetation, so even though the course is generous and can be a good place to score, things can get disastrous quickly if you mis hit to the wrong places.  GCLQ is one of the better public options in the area and there’s ways to play here for the price of a dozen golf balls, making it one of the best values as well.

I was an absolute mess on the range and was trying to wake up when our tee time was called.  As we were making our way to the First, the starter pointed to me and told me to keep my left arm straight.  I thought that was pretty good advice actually and ended up striping me tee shot on the First down the middle to start things off for an enjoyable round.

The First is a 378 yard par 4.  It’s a slight dogleg to the left  and the green is a little raised.  There are younger trees lining the generous fairway, but overall this is a nice warm up starter hole.

The First.  Love those mountains.

Approach shot territory

The Second is a 359 yard par 4.  It’s a more severe dog leg right than the First and the tee shot is a mild carry over some water.  Some strategically placed bunkers make sure your shots stay on line and the green gets a little undulating.

The Second

At the dogleg of the Second

The Third is a 473 yard par 5.  The fairway runs at a little but of an angle to the right off the tee, but is straight for the most part.  The green is raised and blind from the fairway and an aerial shot is ideal.  I decided to be a big man and go for the green in two, just getting to the fringe.  Yeah buddy.

The Third
The green is on the other side of the bunker

The Fourth is a 421 yard par 4.  It’s also the number one handicapped hole.  The tee area is set on the left side of the fairway, which ripples to the green by rising to a crest at the middle of the hole, then descending to the elevated green.  The fairway is on the narrow side and the green is pretty tricky.

Tee shot at the Fourth

Further down the Fourth

The Fifth is a 387 yard par 4.  The biggest trouble here is if you hit it into one of the bunkers that are around the tee landing area and greenside.  Otherwise, it’s straightaway.  It’s the number 3 handicapped hole, but I’m not sure why.  The fairway is narrower, but I thought it was a good short par 4 to get a nice score on.

The Fifth

Approach shot territory

The Sixth is the first par at 153 yards.  There is water along the right of the green, as well as long.  There’s also a hidden bunker long and a little left of the green.  It’s on the scorecard though.  This was a nice hole to take in.  It’s on the quiet side of the course and the water framing the right side of the hole made it a nice setting.

The Sixth

After the Sixth, I started getting nervous.  I was playing really well and more importantly, scoring pretty well.  I wanted to hold on to see if I could reach a low score for nine holes, so started focusing on keeping it going.

The Seventh is a 368 yard par 4.  The fairway is rather wide, but the approach is challenging, as most of the green is blind and surrounded by bunkers.  After a great drive, my ball landed in a divot.  The divot was filled some what.  For some reason, I had pretty good confidence with the shot, took my backswing and got the ball nicely to within 8 feet of the hole.  Feeling good.

The Seventh

The Eighth is a 208 yard par 3, with an elevated tee shot.  The green is pretty wide, but the ride side is trouble.  The pin position on that side gets tricky.  Luckily, the pin for us was in the fat part of the green.

The Eighth

The Ninth is a 517 yard par 5.  Personally, I felt it was one of, if not the, toughest holes on the course.  The tee shot lures you into thinking any where on the wide fairway is good to hit, but the fairway begins to narrow, with a raised slope running alongside the right of the hole and water eventually along the left and left side of the green.  The green itself is over a hump, with a very narrow slice of fairway leading to the front of the green.  Most shots must carry the water and some bunkers and the green slopes severely from right to left, towards the water.  Not my best hole, but it was still a very good nine holes for me.

The Ninth

Further down the fairway

The front nine is enjoyable without being dull and makes you hit a bunch of different shots.  I thought the par 3’s were great and personify the course in general; giving you a chance to score, being visually appealing, and a nice design without being too easy.  I’d rank them 6, 8, 4, 9, 3, 2, 1, 7, 5.

The Tenth is a 374 yard par 4.  It’s a short par 4, but interesting bunkers litter the hole, especially near the green, which putts pretty tough.

The Tenth

Further down the cart path
The Tenth green

The Eleventh is the shortest par 3 on the course at 127 yards.  The green slopes pretty well from left to right and the slope on the left can be used to bounce your shot onto the green.  Long and to the sides is trouble, so stay straight and miss short if need be.

The Eleventh

The Twelfth is a 340 yard par 4.  The fairway is at an 11:00 angle from the tee and bunkers line both sides.  The green is a little elevated, but it’s a relatively straightforward hole.

The Twelfth.  Great view of the mountains on this hole.

The Thirteenth is a 392 yard par 4.  The tee shot is a carry over water, then the fairway climbs uphill to the green with a larger bunker on the left side.  I’ve never seen this before, but my tee shot was hooked into the water, but then jumped back out and rolled another 20 yards just off the fairway.  I don’t mean it simply skimmed; it kerplunked in, then out of the water, clearing the edge of the water by about 3 feet.  It was one of the weirdest shots.  I bet Tiger couldn’t pull that one off, so there.

The Thirteenth.  Site of my most unique tee shot to date.

Moving up the fairway towards the green

The Fourteenth is a 365 yard par 4.  It’s a hard dog leg right and the fairway narrows significantly at the dog leg.  The green is long and some what narrow as well, so even though this is a relatively short par 4, it demands two good shots to get that GIR.

The Fourteenth

The Fifteenth is a 396 yard par 4.  The hole is straightaway, but there are a row of bunkers that protect the entire front of the green.  The fairway is also narrower than normal here, so it can be a tough hole if you mis hit.

The Sixteenth is a 509 yard par 5.  The fairway crests after the tee landing area and water comes in on the right from about 150 yards to the green, then follows you to the green.  There is a bunker between the green and the water, so you get a little reprieve if you hit in that area.  There is also a bunker on the left side of the green, so things can get tricky with the approach.

I will say that I had an inordinate amount of downhill chip shots during the round.  The area around the greens is usually contoured well and expect lots of mounds, so make sure you short game is sharp and can handle all types of hill lies.

Fairway of the Sixteenth

The Seventeenth is the last par 3 at 178 yards.  It’s a carry over water and pretty much strongly asks for a fade here.  Water is in the front and left of the green, the green slopes towards the water and any shot to the right of the green will then face a downhill chip shot out of the rough facing the water.  Another nice par 3 to round out a great set of them.

The Seventeenth

The Eighteenth is a 510 yard par 5.  The fairway bottlenecks at the tee landing area, then climbs up to the elevated green, which is protected by a deep bunker in the front and water if you hit long.  Setting up a good approach shot should be a focus here, with a nice finishing hole.

The back nine gets a little more serious and makes you work a little more for a good score.  The par 3’s were great and stood out for me.  Ranking them, I’d go 17, 11, 13, 14, 10, 16, 12, 12, 18.

Generally, GCLQ is a good play with ample scoring opportunities, but will punish bad shots.  The course is also a good example of a tee system that makes the course accessible to players of all skill levels.  If you think one set of tees is too easy, simply keep pushing back until you get to the Skins tees at over 7K yards.  If that gets too easy, then it’s time to take your shot on tour.  The conditions were great, service was spectacular (including the starter that saved my round; I thanked him afterwards) and the views never got old.  If you sign up for their Players Club (it’s a dollar), then green fees can be had for a larceny.  When you combine all of that with an enjoyable design, GCLQ is a must if you’re in the area.

Gripes:  The range could’ve been in better shape.  The turn was confusing.  There didn’t appear to be any where to grab something quick to eat or drink and we all had to wait in line at the bar.

Bar/grill:  A great patio area overlooking the range and First hole.  Indoors was big, but seemed cramped for some reason.

Clubhouse:  Well sized with nice apparel and a respectable hat.

Practice area:  Free range balls.

Getting there:  Go to PGA West and go East a few minutes.