GolfPass - The Approach | GolfPass Grass Guru - The Desert Classic
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GolfPass Grass Guru – PGA West

Desert Classic • PGA West • by Eric MacPherson


The Desert Classic this week is a three-course shindig, which means I had to comb through 54 holes to bring you three bunkers I deem worthy. First on the menu, La Quinta Country Club.


La Quinta Country Club • Hole 18 • Par 4 • 412 yds


I have to be honest folks, La Quinta is not how I envisioned this meal starting. It’s one of the easiest courses on the Tour, and the bunkers are unmemorable enough that I forgot what many of them looked like. So, I chose a nice fairway bunker on 18. Crisp, white bunker on green grass that’s all that La Quinta offers. Don’t worry, it gets better from here.


Nicklaus Tournament Course PGA West • Hole 18 • Par 4 • 453 yds


With the Appetizer course out of the way, we get to the meat and potatoes of the bunkers. The 18th on the Tournament Course has a magnificent bunker traveling down the right side between the water and the fairway. Not only does this snaking behemoth run the whole length of the fairway, it emerges from what is essentially a wasteland. A wasteland with large tufts of native grasses and a big bunker. Feed me more.


This bunker combo is just one of many on this course too. Take note La Quinta. Get a little imaginative, add some flavor here and there. The bunkers here get my juices flowing. They make me want to hit balls out of white sand in the desert warmth and not write about golf with it howling cold out. But we haven’t even gotten to the Main Course…The Stadium Course.


Stadium Course PGA West • Hole 16 “ San Andreas Fault” • Par 5 • 600 yds


We made it people. The crème de la crème of this week’s Desert Classic Feast. They always say to save the best for last. A Pete Dye Monster that was once too hard for the pros to play. Get out of here! You guys get paid to live the dream – play a hard course here and there. I almost opted to showcase the ninth hole – a long bunker between the fairway and water – and a signature Pete Dye bunker design. The 16th will get ALL the air time this week. It showcases Pete Dye’s bunker trademark, huge green side bunker faces. Like REALLY huge! The 16th also has one of my all-time favorite Phil clips of him using his wedge as a pick to climb the steep face. This video gives you an idea.


The green side bunker on 16 is very deep. Hence the name “San Andreas Fault”. Players need a flop shot and a half just to get up and out. This guy Pete Dye just loves giant bunkers. Some of his bunkers are so deep, you need an actual staircase to get out. If you see a long bunker separating the fairway from a water hazard? Pete Dye. You see a deep grass faced bunker next to the green? Pete Dye. Wood faced bunkers? Pete Dye. And now even you can pick out Pete Dye courses and his design wizardry. You’re welcome.


So what are some key takeaways this week? 1. Pete Dye signature design queues. There will be a quiz next time a Dye course is featured (cough…TPC Sawgrass). 2. Never judge a 3-course meal until you’ve played the Main Course, just avoid the sand at all costs. And 3. The Desert Classic is not a tournament to shun – except La Quinta get out of here!