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Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Other Rankers

Golf Digest: http://www.golfdigest.com/courses/state/index.ssf?/courses/state/2005arizona.html
it includes a lot of private courses not open to the public.
it says "Walking Permitted" on a lot of these courses,
same way walking around with a gun and quart of jack daniels "is permitted" here in Arizona, but I'd advise against it. . .

This list, much more limited than the other list, but also only of couses-you-can-play agrees much more with our list.

I'm still looking for the list I saw somewhere else, the ranking by local golfers. It had Gold Canyon Dinasaur Mountain as # 1, as did Mr. Science. . . I don't know whether that would please him with validation or offend his sense of independent contrariness.

Monday, August 15, 2005


53 Phoenix Courses ranked, so far



Ancala Country Club

uh, @7000 yds, Par 72, Slope 138
Pete Dye Resume (106 entries):

Played here on a "Member for a Day" program -- What A Good Idea! First rate facility, staff, and golf course.

I personally do not care for the artificial mounding with unnatural, hard-to-mow shapes, nor, of course, the dang ubiquitous railroad ties.

I personally do not care for the "signature" pairing of #9 & #18 around a water hazard with Florida-styled bulkheading (railroad ties, natch). It looks wrong, to me, here in Arizona. Some of the football sized bunkers seem misplaced here to me too -- on some par 3s they don't even come into play with a horrible shot, but there they are, just for "visual" appeal, I guess.

There is no contesting that Ancala is a great golf course, tho', a VERY steep challenge. These guys we played with, friends of Mr. Science, from out west in Sun City, complained about the punitive & cramped fairways, but to us, they seemed almost generous after several rounds at The Sanctuary, not to mention, most recently, SunRidge. There is nothing subtle about the undulations either in the fairway nor on the greens. Compared to some of the second tier courses, like say, Talking Stick, The Phoenician, Starfire, or any of a dozen "sun city retiree courses", one can see why those other courses are condemned for being flat and uninteresting.

I provided merriment to my playing companions -- or at least distraction from their own wretched failures -- with my perpetual exposure to uneven lies and Vijay-at-the-PGA "Violent lip-outs". I offered to tutor them on uneven lies, but they declined, & said they could get into trouble on their own. . . 8^D. . .

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Sun Ridge Canyon

6766 yds, slope 152, Par 72

Golfweb: http://www.golfweb.com/courseguide/ocdata?st=detail&gwid=20715

Keith Foster Architect: http://www.golfweb.com/courseguide/ocdata?srchkey=advanced&couky=&pk=&hhk=NON&staky=&cntyky=&citky=&prox=&pdist=5&punit=mi&zipky=&ik=&phoky=&bk=any&lk=keith+foster&gk=

My goodness Keith Foster has done some good 'uns, besides SunRidge: Anthem, Eagle Nest, and two Texas courses of some notoriety, Bandit & The Quarry.

52 Course Rankings: http://people.consolidated.net/DBADave/Golf/PGC.htm

Tried to play Talking Stick North course Friday evening. Got rained out on the 6th hole. Our partners had already fled to the Clubhouse that is adjacent to the 6th green, but I'm standing there with soaked with my hat blown off, trying to 2-putt from 35 feet in a 40 mph wind because I'm only 1-over so far. But Mr. Science is waving me over from our cart, "Bring my ball, too, willya?" His game was no-good that day and he was happy to quit. We had a couple of beers and called it a warmup for SunRidge. Lost my reading glasses in the hubbub, too.

The view from the first tee, looking east over to Four Peaks at sunrise, is purty dang inspirational. Sadly, the golf to start off was not. I double-bogied the first 3 holes from blocking my drive out in the desert. I knew I should have eaten brekky instead of warming up on the driving range. I forget what Mr. Science's trouble was, bad-iron play or something, but we righted the ship by #5, the # 1 handicap hole, and both almost birdied. Mr. Science left his chip hanging over the hole, but it wouldn't fall in.

We were a twosome, in between a bunch of 4somes, so it seemed we were always waiting -- it's always hard to get a tempo going in situations like that, but then this course keeps you off-balance all the time, anyway.

Is it harder than Las Sendas? Is it better than Eagle Mountain? Is it a better value than either, or worse? Hard to say. It's worth playing more than once; it's worth playing regular if you're not on a Mission that takes you away. It left us thinking we could do better next time, having seen the course once, like on # 10 where there seems like there is an arroyo crossing the fairway at an awkward angle and an awkward distance, but it really poses very little hazard: your ball would probably skip right thru it, its so shallow, and anyway a good drive would get over, but we laid up, not knowing any better. On # 11 I had to prove to myself heuristically that the same principle does not apply to its arroyo, which is fortified with a rock wall and deep, gravelly sand.

We neither one had a birdie all day, tho' we had many chances, but any putt over 15 ft, is going to break, a lot.

While we waited on the last par 3, one of those gimmicky, long-or-short, double-green holes that suddenly seem as common as split-fairways, we chatted with the foursome behind us. They said the course was great and the weather very nice (below 100!). I, in turn, lamented that the only bad thing was that having played Friday, with only two of us, we had no more interesting conversation or funny stories to tell that we hadn't already heard.

"Well, we haven't heard them!" said the foursome.

"Ah," I cleared my throat in preparation.

"Yeah," interrupted Mr. Science, "you've heard them."

Oh, they thought THAT was witty. They thought that was VERY droll.

I'm going to start carrying "business" cards with this blog url on it, then make hand signs when I give them away, like a mute selling pencils.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Superstition Springs Golf Club


7005 yds, Par 72, Slope 130, by Greg Nash.


Not so well maintained as it deserves right now, a little bit shaggy and the sand traps were largely in very poor condition, as if the monsoon rain we'd gotten recently had overwhelmed the staff. Except that the staff is AGC http://americangolf.com/play/index.cfm, one could give them some slack.

Greg Nash has done a lot of arizona courseshttp://www.golfweb.com/courseguide/ocdata?srchkey=advanced&couky=&pk=&hhk=NON&staky=&cntyky=&citky=&prox=&pdist=5&punit=mi&zipky=&ik=&phoky=&bk=any&lk=greg+nash&gk=
including, apparently, Gold Canyon (one, both?), so I have to believe the problems I had were not just my bad golf but also the course being harder than I realized. . . it lacks the threatening eye danger of a desert-course, with wide greenbelts & fairways, but there's lots of water, and some artful elevation changes. The par 5s are very long, the par 3s awkward to hit into, and many of the par 4s require some local knowledge. We couldn't have gotten around at all without some help, and as I say, even at that, I didn't get around that well.

Everytime I'd feel like I was getting my rhythm, the course would throw me for a loop -- I wound up with an even 100, while Mr. Science had an 86 -- like when I almost chipped in for a birdie on the par 5 # 11 -- hit 4 great shots and still wound up with only a par -- then go to the par 3 # 12, a very extreme example of the redan-style, but with traps only in front and huge mounds surrounding the green, and all of it elevated 30 or 40 feet above the tee -- a very intimidating shot when you first see it. None of our foursome even got inside mounds, a very large target, to miss.

The more I think about it the better the course seems than it did while I was floundering around on it. It all (including the course and the clubhouse) has a kind of gentile dilapidation, in an Old South kind of way, if you see what I mean, rather than a Arizona feel to it, with a deceptively easy appearance that belies it's difficulty.

Monday, August 01, 2005


Club West Golf Club

It is always so simultaneously difficult to know where to begin, what to say and where to end, what to leave out.

F'rinstance. This week Mr. Science & I went to two wine tastings together. Fascinating as it is, I mention them only as a preamble to this week's golf at Club West.

I am not so social that I actually enjoy wining & dining out twice during the week, but the opportunity presented itself, so we did.

I enjoy them mainly for the idealized possiblites they present, rather than the actual experience: I just love to read the purple prose written to describe the mead & manna to be consumed. Often what you get is something less.

Tuesday night at the 98 South Tasting, to name names, we felt that only one of the wines was worth driving all the way down to Chandler, and the nibbles they provided hardly justified the $45 cost. One dish was called "Two Spoons" and indeed the edible spoons were the best part. So we argued about where to go aftewards for something more to eat: Guedo's Tacos, MarbleStone Creamery, or FLo's Chinese -- in the end we just went home hungry.

Thursday night at The Secret Garden, the wine flowed more freely and the menu was there normal fare, plus the free noshing beforehand. I vaguely remember some good cheeses, but nothing else.

The point is this, Friday, as usual we went into work early for a world-wide conference call, and we take advantage of it as a chance to leave early and play golf after work. Mid-morning, tho', Mr. Science appeared in my cubicle like Banquo's Ghost, feeling ill. So I took him home, and revised my plans for golf that day as a single.

I simply went over to the Sanctuary again, the course I have played most often in Phoenix, the one closest to my home. In scorching 104 degree solitude I shot a 42-42=84, with 2 birdies on the back 9; better than usual there because I didn't lose 4 balls on the front 9. I tend to overlook the first 7 holes in anticipation of the back 9, where the really interesting holes are, but the front 9 demands and deserves attention with its narrow, slanted fairways.

Hit a 200 yd. 5 wood pin high over the water on the Par 3 # 8, and then parred # 9, too.

Laid up perfectly on # 10 for a par there. Drove the traps on the short-downhill # 11, put my half-sandwedge below the hole for an easy birdie.

Heart pumping, I hooked my 7wood into the desert on the 185 yd Par 3 # 12, and was able to salvage a bogie.

Got the stroke back with an ordinary par 5 birdie on # 13.

Bogied # 14 when I pureed my new 7 iron over onto the mountain behind the green.

Bogied # 15 even tho' I finally kept my 5wood out of the desert, cuz I bladed the half-sandwedge over the green.

Finished bogey-bogey-bogey, even tho' I hooked my tee-shot on 18 into the gully that bisects the fairway. I have despaired of ever hitting that fairway.

Finished in 2 1/2 hours. Golf the way I love it.

So I was feeling confident, if somewhat weary the next morning early when I picked up Mr. Science. He definitely had a renewed spring in his step as he jogged out of the house and jumped into my car.

Now Mr. Science has a bulldog tenacity, a Calvinist spirit, and a need for his regular warm-up routine. But he was a little groggy yet from his enforced idleness, and I am hopeless at directions- to be kind -- so the short of it was that we wound up on the wrong side of South Mountain on 14th street looking for the club. After a quick cell phone call, we backtracked to I-10 and down Chandler Avenue to Club West.

We had just enough time to still make our t-time, but none for Mr. Science to warm up, but when he split the middle with his drive, then made a spectacular sandy par, I tho't it might be alright after all.

I started off with 6 straight pars -- a personal record -- before I dropped 5 strokes on the last 3 holes, for no apparent reason at all, so I didn't really notice how Mr. Science was struggling on this course he ought to have torn apart, but I did notice on the back 9 that jauntiness had gone as he ground out his pars as best he could in spite of uncharacteristic unforced errors. He blamed it all on the curried chicken at the Secret Garden, and who am I to disagree. . . 8~D. . .

The short of it is that Mr. Science showed his usual consistency, 44-43=87 despite his discomfiture, and I carded my personal best for 18, 41-41=82. I couldn't get too excited as the course lacked much challenge, tho' it was very well kept and the layout wasn't tooooo terrible -- not a good course for walking, tho'. The staff are phenomenally friendly and the views of South Mountain are very scenic above the lush green fairways.

It's only a slope 129 from the tips at 7142, with very wide fairways and a general non-descriptiveness that makes it rather unremarkable.

I remember # 10, a short par 4 with an elevated green for some reason, but I think the Par 3 # 17 is the only hole that really excites comment: The tees are elevated 75 or 100 ft above the greens (plural, one is 40 yards closer than the other). I'd never seen that before.

One of the members-there that we played with that day said on 15, the other par 3 on that 9, "I think it's playing about 132 yds, today."

His partner said, "I'm not that precise -- I just play it as if it's 135."

The first member said, "This hole gives me fits, I'm always between clubs!"

"Maybe," I suggested, "you should round to 5 yds on your distances too, so you wouldn't have that problem!" . . .8~D. . .

I don't know for sure, but bless his heart, I think the guy is sporting a vanity-handicap: I mean, he acted like a low-handicapper, talked like a low-handicapper, and he DID birdie that short par 3, but it looked like to me he decelerated every swing, pulled left an awful lot, and I don't think he scored THAT well . . . something weird that he did, too, happened when he was in a fairly deep fairway bunker. He laid his club down pointing toward s the green, next to the bunker, then stepped on the face of the club so that the shaft stuck up in the air. It looked to me, the way that he studied the angle, that he was "measuring" whether the loft was enough to get over the lip.

Mr. Science scoffed when I told him, but I think he was scoffing at my interpretation of events, rather than the misguided notion that that would tell you whether you could get a ball out of a bunker using a given club. . . 8~D. . .

Proximity compels me to compare Club West unfavorably to The Sanctuary, of which both the fairways and the "green belt" are half-as-wide, plus the Sanctuary's desert areas are much more punitive. And Club West lacked the drama of the Kierland course we played recently, tho' they are very similar layouts.


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