Can anyone think of a better way to spend a few hours than playing 18 holes of golf with two old and very dear friends? We savored that very experience last Friday at Lincoln Hills Golf Club. Although we focused on our games, we shared jokes, gentle barbs, and occasionally some compliments as we played on a hot (what else is new?) summer day. After the round, in the air conditioned, lively environment of the Meridian Sports Bar, we caught up with each other’s lives over a cool drink – priceless.
The course at Lincoln Hills gets mixed reviews from all of us. The club actually has two 18-hole courses. On this day we played the Orchard Course. Our friend Nancy tells us that it is the harder of the two courses because of barrancas on several holes that a player must cross on her drives. The ladies’ club has even created drop areas on the far sides of the barrancas to speed up play, a nice idea but it could lower handicaps inappropriately. On hole #3 the women lobbied successfully for a forward tee built on a wooden platform like a wildlife viewing stand to allow shorter hitters to clear the riparian area. (All of these problems could have been avoided, of course, if the course architects gave any thought to women players or shorter hitters in general when they designed the course.) Mary, our other playing partner, complained that there were no trees on the Orchard Course. On such a hot day we did end up searching for shade. The other Mary (blog co-author) noted that the course is losing its battle with water grass. We all found ourselves, whether in the rough or middle of fairways, trying to power our way out of the sticky stuff. This unexpected hazard penalizes women particularly since “muscling” shots is not really part of our game. As for me, although a wildlife lover at heart, I do not like seeing Canada geese on a golf course because I know the damage they can do and I hate stepping on goose poop. Lincoln Hills, unfortunately, is overrun with Canada geese.
My first impressions of the Orchard course were quite positive. Again, I thought of Palm Springs while playing another Del Webb course, but even though the fairways generally have homes lining one side, the opposite side often had sweeping views of natural ponds and riparian areas, making the holes seem more wide-open. The course is not walkable even on a cool day, but the golf cart ride is an experience in itself, taking players through tunnels, across surface streets (carefully marked with stop signs), on wooden cart paths and walkways, and across winding bridges over ponds and natural areas.
On the negative side, a woman player has a choice between only 2 sets of tees, somewhat limited but both fair for women. The purple tees at 5571 yards have a rating of 72.5/120 and the red tees at 5366 yards are rated at 71.5/118. Again, the architects might have given the women players tees with more than 200 yards difference. The two ratings and slopes are very similar, limiting the variety of the playing experience.
Many players do not realize that the Lincoln Hills courses are open to the public since they were originally built exclusively for the homeowners there. Unfortunately, membership in the women’s golf group, which meets on Thursdays, is only open to homeowners. The drive to Lincoln Hills is worthwhile as tee times should always be available with two courses to play. We intend to return in the near future to review the second 18, the Hills Course. Meanwhile, I will leave you with a safari-like wildlife photo.