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Monday, July 11, 2005


The Foothills (at South Mountain)

(Weiskopf and Moorish, slope 132)

This was the second time we had played here. There are very few places we want to play twice, even if they ARE nice, because we are on a Paganican Mission: to play all 237 (increased count) Golf Courses in the Phoenix area, so no matter how much we like a course, time does not permit.

But we make exceptions:
Of COURSE they have rain in Arizona -- not in the ridiculously named Monsoon Season, which has been blessed with less than an inch of rain for most of the last 9 years, but in the winter. I'm sure thousands of golfers from all-across-the-country have an Arizona Rain Out story. I hit a tree out here once, too. We no longer laugh at all the balls stuck in the tee-side saguaros anymore, tho'.

So one day last summer we were there at The Foothills, and on the twelfth tee, I said to Mr. Science, "We were right to come out today, despite the threat of thunderstorms, for look: it's a beautiful day and not too hot!"

"Is that lightning over there?" asked Mr. Science.

Two holes later, on the 15th tee, the rain came in buckets, without preamble. The temperature dropped 30 degrees. By the time we got past the 15th green, having abandoned our game, the hail started. Whatever the size is between pea-sized and marble sized, that's what we got . . . so fast-and-thick you couldn't see the grass on the fairway.

The hail flew into our faces blown sideways by the howling gales. The cunning drainage architecture on the last 3 holes meant the cart hit high-water-crossings that splashed bowwaves over the transome into our faces. I was blinded by the rain, pained by the stinging hail, and near-hysterical with manic amusement at our predicament, but Mr. Science put on his bulldog face and a white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel as he plowed thru every obstacle.

When we got back to the Bedlam taking place in front of the proshop, Mr. Science naturally went in to see about a rain-check, while I brought the car around. I started the heater on high, threw the clubs into the trunk, and unclipped my golf towels to try to soak up some of the chill-water I'd brought in with me. When Mr. Science returned, rain-check-less, we just tore out of the parking lot to go home.

On the way, I realized I'd left his Umbrella and his head covers on the cart. . .8^0. . .

So we came back to The Foothills. They had a good summer deal and it didn't look like rain at all.

We were hot off our good games at Talking Stick, well, Mr. Science was, I was a little disgruntled. . . even a 91, on a Slope-120 course, feels like 111 when you're playing with Mr. Science with his 78. But it was relatively cool at 7:20 in the morning, say 90, we felt great & confident, and while Mr. Science took his warmup, I got a breakfast burrito from the snack stand.

I feel I play better with a full tummy than I do with a bucket of balls, so I always eat rather than practice. I hate trying to hit a golf ball while I have that light-headed, shakey feeling from hunger. But I must be brutally honest here: the quality of most Arizona golf course brekkies is far inferior to most of my experience.

And tho' I remember the acriomonious exchange between Barry Goldwater & Lyndon Johnson, where in Goldwater claimed that "Texans wouldn't know the difference between good chili and the leavings in a corrall", I have been disappointed in the quality of mexican food in general in Arizona -- not in ALL of it -- geez -- but in New Mexico, or even Texas, you can't turn around with out tripping over a good Mexican restaurant, whereas in Arizona I wanna put up a copper placque ever time I even find a half-decent salsa.

I do want to say I did have a really fine, first-rate, fried egg-and-bacon -and-cheese sandwich at Estrella one morning, so fine I think that's one of the few games where I've scored better than Mr. Science -- I KNOW he HATES THAT -- who can blame him -- but the breakfast taco at The Foothills I can recommend without any reservations at all.

It was reheated in the microwave, but it was still great:

It set me up in fine fettle for my round. We both parred the 1st hole. . . not unusual for Mr. Science, and not entirely unknown for me, just not common.

We played a couple of young fellows, sturdy fellows with soft handshakes. One never did get untracked -- doesn't play a lot -- suffered terribly all day, manfully, with no demonstrations, classy. The other could scrape it around a little bit. Built like a large fire hydrant. The kind you think are just going to CRUSH the ball, but he was a little erratic, didn't hit the ball solid often, but he was magic around the greens. Said he had seen a lesson on the golf channel on the flop shot and 3, 4, 5 times at least, he flopped the ball successfully over a trap, onto the green, stiff to the pin. Nice guys.

The course seemed harder than I remembered it, but we started on the back 9 which IS longer than the front nine, and long-ish, besides. I got around with 7 bogeys and 2 pars ( 10 & 18) which is awfully consistent compared to my usual game. So I tho't I would tear up the front 9, being that much shorter, but the treacheries of the slope-132 gave me several double-bogies.

Like at #2 or #3, I forget which: a short par 5, but the green, and the pin, this day, are hidden behind hump 20 yards in front. Made me chunk my sandwedge approach the flounder around the green. I got to # 8 vowing to get 2 pars to get me back to level-bogey 45. I totally crushed my drive and had only 235 to the pin, but I pulled back and smoothed a 4iron down towards the green. "Smart play," said Mr. Science, "better'n last time!"

"Whuh?" I groped, then I looked down by the green and noticed the water hazard, a lake bordering half of the green on the slice side. Last time, in the same place, I had pulled the 3wood and bounced into the water. "Yeah, I meant to do that," I calmly asserted.

I managed to chip on and putt close enough I could claim a gimme ( tho it was a VERY generous concession, I admit). On 18, I managed to roll my double-breaker birdie putt close enough for a knee-knocker that I went ahead and tapped in, just to show I could. 43+45 = 88. Mr Science had an 82. I said, "see, if you average yesterday & today, I'm still just 9 strokes worse than you."

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