The two championship courses at Palm-Aire Country Club-the Dick-Wilson designed Champions, and the Lakes, laid out by Joe Lee-are in immaculate condition and very "member-friendly," more strategically challenging than penal. What's more, the driving range, chipping and putting greens are in tiptop shape, too, all of which makes for a great golf experience.
Both courses are quite long from the gold tees. Champions measures 7,005 yards, Lakes 6,698 yards. However, there are a total of five sets of markers, so golfers can choose the tees and length of course best suited to their level of play measured by a handicap.
Until I sat down and talked to one of the on-site professionals, Terry Walsh, I had no idea of the grand history of Palm-Aire, originally called DeSoto Lakes until 1970 and the first private club in our area to offer 36 holes. Over the years, such golfing legends as Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen, Ken Venturi and Mickey Wright have played at this fine facility. Palm-Aire was so well known that matches were filmed for the original Shell's Wonderful World of Golf television series, a show that still runs but was first made popular during the 1960s.
I was impressed by Palm-Aire's manicured tees, lush fairways, super-smooth greens and pure white sand in the bunkers. Plus I enjoyed myself so much going around both courses that I had trouble picking a singular "signature" hole. That's my way of saying all the holes are good. Palm-Aire is truly a course you'll never get tired of playing-as evidenced by some golfers who have been members for 50 years, enjoying their regular games and taking advantage of the country club's first-class amenities, including tennis courts and swimming pool.
PALM-AIRE COUNTRY CLUB
5601 Country Club Way
THE LINGO Confused by the strange-sounding language spoken by experienced players? Here's a quick lesson in "Golf-speak" to help you understand what your playing partners are talking about.
Backspin: Reverse spin imparted to the ball to make it stop quickly on the green.
Clubface: The hitting area of the club-head.
OB: Abbreviation for describing a ball hit out of bounds. The out-of-bounds line is defined by the inside edge of the white stakes at ground level. If only part of the ball is in bounds, the ball is in bounds. If white lines are used to mark the boundary line, the line itself is out of bounds.
One Ball Out: Explains how much break to allow for, say, on a right-to-left putt. "Play it one ball out to the right," a fellow partner may advise.
Provisional: A second ball played from the tee when the original ball may be lost or out of bounds.
Roadie: Occurs when a player's ball hits a paved road inside the boundary of the golf course. In a friendly, informal game, if the player goes on to score par, a point for a "roadie" is awarded.
Stub: Barely hitting the ball.
TIPS FROM THE PROS
According to Jeffrey Grant, head golf pro at Tournament Players Club at Prestancia, most amateur golfers lose power because they grip the club too tightly.
If you're losing distance off the tee, reduce your grip pressure in both hands to six, on a one-to-10 scale. You'll soon see that this one small change relaxes the muscles in your hands, wrists, and arms, so you're able to swing faster and hit the ball farther and straighter, in the same way that a big-league pitcher generates more speed and control by gripping the baseball more lightly.
THE RULES Knowing the rules set down by the United States Golf Association in the book The Rules of Golf will help you avoid penalty strokes and win more matches. Therefore, know what to do when confronted with the following course situation.
Situation: Player A is competing in a head-to-head match play event. On the fourth hole, a par-five, he hooks his second shot toward the out-of-bounds markers. When he discovers the ball, it's out of bounds. He retrieves the ball and penalizes himself a shot.
Common mistake: Player A drops the ball two club lengths from the nearest out-of-bounds stake. Next, he plays his fourth shot from that spot. Since Player A breached Rule 27-1, he loses the hole to his opponent.
Correct procedure: If you hit a ball out of bounds like Player A did, return to the spot where you played your previous shot, penalize yourself a stroke, then play your next shot from that point.
SARASOTA'S JOHN ANDRISANI is the former senior editor of instruction at GOLF Magazine and the author of more than 25 books, including the newly released Tiger's New Swing. Send questions and comments to John at email@example.com.