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Tom Mortellaro flipped on the television to the Golf Channel, new to the airwaves in the mid 1990s, intent on improving his game and learning more about the swing. Without fail, daughter Kayla, a toddler, would grab her plastic club and emulate the swings she saw on the screen. “I’d mimic everything the instructors were doing,” Kayla said. “I was learning the whole time he was trying to pick up the game.”
The golf bag has been removed from deep inside the storage closet. The tire pressure on the three-wheel cart meets specifications. The grooves on the irons have been scrubbed clean. You need a tee time.
I grew up in Western Washington so I’m familiar with many of the golf courses on that side of the state. I was fortunate to play Sahalee, site of the 1998 PGA Championship and 2010 U.S. Senior Open, as my home course in high school. Yes, that was a long time ago. I’ve lived on this side of the mountains for nearly 30 years, but I’ve tried to keep up with the newer courses that have sprouted up on the west side. It’s been a losing battle, but I gained on it during a recent three-day trip.
Maybe a C or C-minus. No, not the golf course’s grade. My grade.
Davis Love III is already thinking about Sept. 3. That’s the night before he will announce his four captain’s picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. It’s also the night he will be breaking hearts.
The pro shop is situated high above the golf course and provides a panoramic view of what awaits a first-time visitor. Below sits a moonscape of dunes and mounds, knobs and knolls, slants and slopes. Eighteen holes weave through the sandy terrain, bordered in the distance by railroad tracks and Puget Sound. A slice of Scottish links just outside of Tacoma.
When playing a golf course for the first time you always come away with at least one valid gripe, right? Too expensive. Mundane layout. Too tough. Not tough enough. Dreadful greens. Shoddy fairways. Visually unappealing. You won’t encounter that problem at Druids Glen. The course could probably offer a satisfaction guarantee and not have to worry about grumbling customers. That’s coming from a guy who turned a 20-minute drive to the course into a 70-minute exploration – I’m blaming MapQuest – and then played so-so golf for 18 holes.
It probably says a lot about BanBury’s layout and playability that I toured the last nine holes in a wind tunnel and still thoroughly enjoyed this challenging course in Eagle, on the outskirts of Boise. The winds picked up considerably as I made the turn and, just my luck, the next four holes played into a stout breeze. It became a serious crosswind with debris skittering across the 14th, a tough 190-yard par 3. For some reason, my mood picked up on No. 15 with the wind at my back.
This sprawling, 36-hole complex sits just outside Boise in Kuna, but it’s only a 15-20 minute drive from downtown. The 18-hole track is Falcon Crest, a diverse layout with one of the toughest closing stretches anywhere. There’s also Robin Hood, a nine-hole executive course with five par 3s and four par 4s, and the Freedom Course, a nine-holer that travels 3,914 yards from the professional tees. Freedom’s par 5s are 714 and 640 yards. Three par 4s check in at 462, 467 and 473 yards.
Your first decision comes before your first swing. Hole No. 1 is a 277-yard par 4. There are a series of bunkers left, trouble right, a pond in front of the green and a creek behind the putting surface. And the green is just a tad bigger than your kitchen table.
I’ve spent some time in Boise. I watched future Olympian Ian Waltz launch the discus so far that officials at the 1995 state track meet had to find a longer tape to measure his record throw.