YGCC – Private Course/Public Feel
Long before golf courses had 6 separate tee boxes, multi-tiered greens and 10-foot-deep bunkers the game was a much simpler challenge. It was also perhaps much less stressful and the investment in golf balls significantly reduced.
Lay outs for those type of courses, which were much like that of Yuma Golf and CC, were often a back and forth design. You played up the first hole and came back down the second, then went back up the third, back down the forth and so on and on. Doglegs were not severe and par 3’s fairly straight and level.
The greens were built two different ways; mostly with drainage in mind. At Yuma Golf and CC, they are sloped from back to front. Typically it was recommended then, as it is now, to leave your ball short of the flagstick. Uphill putts tend to stay on line easier and can be hit firmer without fear of the ball “getting away” from you like downhill putts can do.
The second design style was known as a “turtle back” with the high point in the center meaning the water would drain off in all directions. Green of this style are much trickier to putt on.
Courses that have maintained this style of layout, like Yuma Golf and CC, are often referred to as a “traditional” or “old fashioned” layout or design. Built in 1950 with second nine added in 1952, this was an era where it was quite usual for the golf professional to assist in the design or layout based on experience playing other golf courses. In some cases, that same pro might be seen on a tractor or assisting with some of the labor.
Courses like Yuma Golf and CC still have their place in the current golf marketplace. This traditional style of course provides a gentle respite from some of the ridiculous designs that have come about in the last 5-20 years. In the 1980’s, Steve Bell Design was hired to perform some slight upgrades and alterations, but for the most part the course you play today is not far off the 1950’s layout.
We began our day at Yuma Golf and CC with a very warm welcome from Josh Welch – Golf Shop Manager/Merchandiser along with 20-year employee Gabriel – Cart Barn Supervisor. They gave us plenty of insight and history about this private members golf club. We all had a chuckle regarding the parking lot which had a larger than usual number of Canadian license plates. I perused the sign in sheet for the day at the pro shop counter and recognized many names from our home town of Parksville, BC on Vancouver Island. Fernando set our clubs and camera gear onto a power cart. Ready to go, the course, practice facility and spacious clubhouse was ours to enjoy. Myra and I agreed that if this is the manner in which a member is treated it’s no wonder why they have a healthy mix of male and female members. We hit balls on the range for 15 minutes and after 5 minutes on the putting green we teed off.
The first hole is a gentle slight dogleg left Par 4 and with its defined over-seeded lush green fairways and dormant Bermuda rough focusing on each shot was made easier. Although a desert area, the course could be best described as a parkland course with a mixture of pine, palm and eucalyptus trees dotted throughout and along the perimeter of each fairway. Small single-story condos and single-family homes lined the outside boundary of the course.
The course is very walk able and really there really aren’t any elevation changes of note. If we had our golf carts, we would have joined the many walkers on the course as we love the exercise that you don’t necessarily receive from riding on a power cart. We suspected it was ladies morning as a couple of holes in front of us and beyond were foursome after foursome of ladies in their brightly colored outfits. Occasionally an excitable reaction and laughter could be heard from one of the groups; a reaction to a great shot or perhaps a funny miss-hit too. It was not a distraction at all and made us realize there was a lot to enjoy and appreciate about playing this lovely course. A number of the holes were really pretty to play and gaze upon. The 6th is a beautiful gentle dogleg left. As well, I really liked the back to back Par 5’s of holes 14 and 15, which I managed to par. The 17th is a brute of a Par 3 playing 225 yards to the flag.
Adjacent to the 17th is the first hole and it’s there where I witnessed a first in my 50 years of golfing. Now I’ve seen a single guy on a power cart accompanied by his non playing wife/girlfriend holding a child/baby. I’ve seen a golfing couple joined by a non-playing child and yes we’ve all seen the grandparent playing late at night with their own chauffeur driving the power cart, a grandchild full of glee behind the wheel. Today though was an awesome sight, a lady golfer was walking towards her ball, golf bag slung over her back pushing a baby stroller. Twenty yards away was her husband carrying his golf clubs. Yes, it’s a first for me and maybe for you the reader and the picture says it all. I think a life of golf awaits 11 month old Kai, who was using his Dad’s Ping putter cover as a teething ring. Mom, Micole, a local ER doctor, looking radiant and proud and Dad, Scott, a big, strapping fellow rounded out this wonderful family. They are now making a life in Yuma, a dramatic but positive change from their home state of Washington which is closer to our neck of the woods.
As they went one way, we went another to finish up on the Par 4 18th another gentle dogleg this time to the right. With the clubhouse as a back drop, it was a fitting end to a very relaxing pleasurable round; old fashioned golf in the modern way. Knowing Josh would be away from the pro shop when we finished, I popped in anyhow and said farewell to both Devin and Katy, two multi-talented gals busy organizing fliers for upcoming member events.
The entire day was really relaxing and filled with a few great shots by both of us thrown in for good measure. If your goal is to join the many golfers that come down to Yuma, AZ for the winter, consider popping in and seeing the team at Yuma Golf and CC.