Hole profile from Estrella Mountain Ranch: No. 9 - "The Island"
GOODYEAR, Ariz. - Normally, a hole called "The Island" brings to mind a floating green and swiftly sinking golf balls. But we're in the middle of a desert here, people, so we'll have to adjust our thought patterns a bit. You'll find an "island" and a "stream" on the ninth hole at Estrella Mountain Ranch, but the only water in sight is in the cup-holder on your cart.
The "island" is really a circle of desert cut into the short grass about 10 feet in diameter, complete with boulder and cactus and flanked by a bunker. Together, they bisect the fairway of this 435-yard par 4.
The odd layout gives golfers a choice on the tee box. First, let's assume you can clear the standard 100 yards of desert off the tee and avoid rattlesnake country to the right. You can then either aim for the wider, flatter right side of the fairway and leave yourself an imposing approach shot up a slight grade, over a desert wash (a dry "stream" that cuts across the fairway) and green-side bunker and onto a shallow putting surface.
Or you can carve your way through the narrow left side of the fairway, which should open up more of the green and cut down on the distance and steepness of your approach.
Either way, reaching this green in two is an accomplishment, and you should reward yourself with a freshly grilled hotdog at the turn.
If you manage to par the hole, go ahead and throw in a nice refreshing glass of lemonade. After all, we're in the middle of a desert here.