We planned our rounds of golf before traveling to Palm Desert. Playing the Stadium course at PGA West was going to be my highlight of golfing on the trip. The idea of playing the course was so enthralling we decide to play the Stadium course twice. After hearing how awesome and challenging the Pete Dye design would be, taking two shots at playing it seemed logical. However, like any well devised plan, often times it changes. When we arrived at the golf course on our last full day in the desert, we were met with something unexpected. It seems worthy to note, sometimes the unexpected can lead somewhere great. So, we’re all amped to take on one of the most challenging courses in the world for a second time. After beginning our warm-up on the driving range a course marshal arrives on the driving range to speak with us. He informs us of a tournament under way on the Stadium course. It’s no big deal, they can get us on the course, but it would be a slow round of golf. We had the option of playing the Nicklaus course where our day would not be slowed. A seemingly short discussion took place.
It would be fun to take on the challenge of the Stadium course again. When you play a difficult course, trying to improve the second time always seems appealing. However, there is always wonderment involved when playing an unfamiliar golf course. After spending time at PGA West and having a good experience on the Pete Dye course, it was enticing to see more of the property. So, we took the opportunity, moving our round of golf to the Nicklaus course. It took some regrouping to prepare for a different course. From the driving range, we moved back to the golf shop and picked up the yardage book for the Nicklaus. A yardage book has always helped my comfort level when entering onto a course of unfamiliarity. From the golf shop, it was on to meet with the starter of the new course. While finding our focus after a quick change of plan, the starter mentioned the Nicklaus course was his favorite at PGA West. This seemed encouraging, as we moved onto the first tee and began our adventure.
The golf course began with an inviting par-4. There seemed to be an immediate feeling of comfort with the Nicklaus. It wasn’t the first time playing a course he designed and that familiar feeling may have led to the comfort. My challenge was a seemingly wide swing of emotion. Playing the Stadium course a few days prior brought about feelings of discomfort. So, moving over to the unexpected ease of the Nicklaus was an emotional swing. Living life with cerebral palsy can sometimes bring about these emotional swings. Because moving about our world can be more challenging, mentally and emotionally preparing for days is important. It feels easier to take on the feelings of each day when they have been thought about. Especially when an activity is going to be more taxing not only on my emotions, but also my movements. Having prepared myself for the enormous challenge of the Stadium course, the change in venue brought about quite the shift. Even with the decision being great, it was tough to settle into the round. But, that didn’t remove me from enjoying the beauty of this new golf course.
There weren’t the awe-inspiring views on the Nicklaus course. We couldn’t see the mountain range visible from every hole on the Stadium course. It didn’t provide nearly the challenge, but the playability of the Nicklaus was awesome. As a lover of golf, it seems we always look for that country club course. In my mind, it doesn’t necessarily mean the course is private. When coming across a golf course you could envision playing every day, something special happens. Everything about the course just seems to fit. But, finding that type of every day course seems slightly different for each player. The Nicklaus fit the criteria for my style of golf course. Many times, it’s probably referred to as a golf course fitting the players’ eye. For me, it goes beyond that idea and into fitting into a positive feeling. A golf course can bring on feelings of peace and comfort, while also causing excitement with each hole. It can give the player a variety of looks, as they wind through eighteen holes. Those types of courses stick out in my mind as places that could remain fun after playing multiple times.
Finding an escape from cerebral palsy is a blessing. Being transformed into a place where the disability doesn’t enter my mind. Even if the escape only lasts a few hours, it’s a respite. Golf has the ability to provide that occasional break from cerebral palsy. However, the feeling achieved by the golf course has much to do with that escape. The Nicklaus provided one of the truest holidays from my journey with CP. The course seemed to welcome me in like an old friend with its first hole. Each hole provided a new look, paired with the comfort from the hole before. Every hole stole my wonderment away from the struggle of having a disability. The sun-drenched desert keeping me warm, while unique water hazards provided appetizing views and thoughts of jumping in for a swim. This round overwhelmed each of my senses. The thought of walking off the course and back into the reality of life with cerebral palsy causing fear. It felt a little like what Heaven might be like. A world where cerebral palsy doesn’t carry as much weight.
The Nicklaus Tournament course might not evoke those emotions for you. However, it does seem a good golf course to experience with extra time. The Stadium course would be the one not to miss. If given one round of golf at PGA West, the Pete Dye design is the course to spend your time on. When going back for a second time, the Nicklaus is worth consideration. It might be the easier of the two courses, but that doesn’t make it easy. The challenge of Nicklaus is the ability to score. It doesn’t feel like a course the player is required to survive. There are many inviting golf shots. Unlike the Stadium course, which can leave a player feeling drained. Finishing the Nicklaus leaves that taste of wanting to grab lunch and go play it again. The course provided a relaxing escape for me, like nothing I’ve felt in a long time. Maybe it will evoke something great in you too.