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Monday, July 25, 2005

 

Kierland Golf Club

Acacia/Mesquite, Par 72, Slope 131, 6913 Yds.

Never been over there before. Quite a resort. Makes the Phoenician look kinda grimy & second rate. Everything about the course looks top-shelf, too. Portable canopies that cover the practice tee. Golf carts with air-conditioners. Huge putting & chipping practice areas. They probably do golf schools there. Would be good.

Played there in the "Bunker-to-Bunker" tournament for Cystic Fibrosis. The tournament was extremely well put-on. Got 144 groups launched with a minimum of hassle. Our group was Me, Mr. Science, Clinton, and Jake. We work with Clinton, and picked up Jake at the tournament.

"Clinton hits the ball a l-o-o-o-n-g-g-g-g-g-g way" whispered Mr. Science on the tee -- I'd never played with him. And so he does, and so he did, there on our first hole while the rest of us were still groping for our tools and the B group for our tee chatted and giggled, with a kind of club whoosh that turns heads, the kind of crack-of-the-bat that makes men wince, the kind of tight-draw that makes other golfers lean to the side trying to see around it, and the kind of trajectory that makes jaws sort hang loose and open.

So it would be all day. It's one thing to be long. It's another to be semi straight. Clinton had control of his driver - oh, yeah - and he could hit his irons and he has good short game too. Whew.

Jake, on the other hand, was entertaining, but not much help. If he coulda played like he could talk, we WOULD have been something.

Mr. Science & I played well -- for us -- I'm convinced I would've shot 10 less than my handicap -- very close to even with Mr. Science, and there were times where we contributed. On the first hole, I hit my famous half-9iron closest to the pin, then drained the birdie putt. Clinton gave me a grudging nod. I didn't mind. I KNOW after watching my swing he was convinced it was a wasted afternoon. When I did it again on our 2nd hole, he actually smiled. Both Mr. Science and I were hitting credible shots to go with his INcredible shots and hope of a good showing in the tournament was aborn.

Long story short, we finished 17 under, with 2 pars and an eagle. I bet we didn't have more than 24 putts all day, all told, for ALL FOUR OF US. We had 12 mulligans and still had 11 of 'em on the last hole. We were making the putts so easily we started letting Jake putt first, and he started making them, too.

What was weird was when Clinton seemed to "warm up". He'd been playing great, but on the par 3 #4 on the Mesquite course, playing about 132 yds, if my algebra is right, he came within an eyelash of a hole-in-one.

"Glad you're finally contributing something" said Jake, for about the 5th, and not the last time.
After we let him make the putt, which he comically marked and plumb-bobbed, he reminded us every hole that HE had made that birdie putt. What a card. . . 8^D. . .

"I'm GLAD I didn't make it!" said Clinton, "buying drinks for 144 people could get expensive!"

On the next tee, Clinton was so jacked up he hooked his ball left into the rough, still in play, but we used either Mr. Science's drive or mine, I forget. Clinton calmed down enough to lay his ball about 25 feet from the pin -- I think now he musta hit a PW with his adrenalin. Jake foozled hopelessly, then Mr. Science & I both hit good 6 irons over the green: his low shot landed short and just kept trickling; my high-ball bounced twice on the green and rolled off. Just goes again to show how good Clinton was playing, to stick that ball on a downhill, downwind shot.

After watching Jake leave his birdie putt short, and watching my ball roll by a ways, Clinton drilled it: an amazing double-breaking speed putt. I got cold chills then. That near hole-in-one was cool, but it was short enough that those things happen, but that putt, that was pure-de-skill.

It was a movie: Clinton started dancing with his putter like cossack with a sabre as the ball took the last turn into the hole; Jake had the look of someone surprised on his birthday; Mr. Science broke out of his studious pose (preparing for his putt) with a shout and a fist pump; I pointed at Clinton as he circled the green; he broke toward me with the upraised palm; I gave him a hard high 5.

On Acacia # 8, a downhill 190 yd par 3, both Mr. Science & I hit great shots, and we spent several pleasurable minutes debating which was closest and the easiest putt. Then Jake made the birdie with the first putt, 12.5 feet. Golf had never seemed so easy.

So we figgered to be in the chase, if not outright winners. But when we got to the Fox Grill, the scoring was a sort of modified Callaway system or something.I think we finished up 2nd net. Mr. Science conducted a lengthy review with the tournament folks about the deficiencies of their math, but they were unmoved. Worse: 1st place got some weird looking tommy bahama shirts or such like, and we got bupkus.

Played our asses off, and got diddly-squat for it.

Raised $3200 for CF. Fine. Played the Kierland for $52. Fine. Played great, had fun. Fine. Competed against a bunch of club-pros and semi-pros and finished 3rd, more or less. Fine. Came away empty handed. What -the- hey? I don't think we'll join the Anthem Bunker to Bunker tourney, unless we just want to play the course. We will see.

So the course itself, as part of the Kierland Resort is like an Oasis in the Arizona desert, lush and green. There are some washes and well-groomed desert areas, but not a single saguaro or jumping cactus, chollo, ocotillo, agave, or prickly pear. Kinda odd when you think about it. The dang thing is so forgiving and wide and wide-open that it plays a little easier than it actually is, if you see what I mean.

So, by Mr. Science's rating system. Kierland gets a two.
By mine, a two must have the potential to be the one-and-only # 1, and as fine as a course it is, a beautifully maintained excellent layout, the challenge really is not as great as so many other courses here in the valley.

Mr. Science says we may have to play that one again, too, just to be sure. It may have been our judgement was skewed by having Clinton's drives to work with all day. . . 8^D. . .

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