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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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