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Sunday, September 04, 2005


The 500 Club

6976 yds, Par 72, Slope 120.

The comments on GolfWeb all express a degree of pleasant surprise. This is due I believe to the large difference between the flat and unimaginative front 9 and the dynamic & scenic back 9. After our layoff of 2 or 3 weeks, I expected to be rusty on the front 9 at least -- at least until I parred the first hole -- but I was, after all. Mr. Science ground out his usual consistent 41 - 39, while I had a 50-39, with a birdie on the last hole, that left me crowing about breaking 90 while Mr. Science grumbled about not breaking 80.

#10 is an attractive par 5, with a little bit of strategy involved, but I think the cross-hazard is misplaced. We both hit good drives then laid up with an 8 or 9, then hit 9 irons to the elevated green, and two putted for par. With the elevated green it just doesn't seem advantageous enough risk-reward-ise to go-for-it, even tho' there's plenty of room over the hazard.

#11 is a bodacious version of the redan-style, not quite as forbidding as #12 at Superstition Springs, but testy none-the-less: a two-tiered green with a false front that slopes hard away. Mis-placed tee-shots long or short leave impossible chips or putts.

#12 has a semi-breath-taking view of a long downhill landing area that goes flatly off to a green backing up to a lake. Looks like they chickened out on using the island right behind the green as as the island green, but that would have made it a VERY tough hole, indeed.

#13 is a par 3 slightly uphill. easy par.

#14 is a friendly little par 4. easy par, with an apparently irresistable pull to the left: both of us were in the "arizona woods" over there. Somehow we both managed pars.

#15 rivals # 12 for a scenic, testy par 4 -- apparently recently lengthened from what would have been a kind of non-descript short par 4 into a respectable distance with a flat landing area separated from an uphill green by the rock-rimmed cart-path / arroyo. The left side of the 2nd half of the fairway is a huge, deep grass-bunker and the right side is a huge unwieldy grass mound; in between is a tiny ribbon of fairway. Driving over the cart-path might be possible but there is trouble all around the other side. Laid up with a 3 wood, hit my seven iron to the green. Mr. Science laid up too short with an iron, confused by the conflicting information on the score-card and the marker at the hole, but then hit his 3 wood closer than my 7 iron, but off the green. That green has a small plateau in the middle from which the rest of the bean-shaped green slopes away which makes for impossible putting. We both got fives there.

#16 is a short straightaway par 4 with shaggy rough on the left.

#17 runs uphill again, which makes the distance seem less manageable -- don't know why but we both had trouble getting to the green in good shape -- both got 5s and left scratching our heads.

#18 is not much of a challenge as a par 5. For me, big hook into the church pews for a drive, chunk a seven iron layup short of the single ugliest hazard I have ever seen on a golf course -- pathetic little concrete gutter with tiny fan shaped fountains on either side of the fairway, then blade a PW 15 ft left of the pin where I made the only putt I made all day for a finishing birdie.

In short, despite the semi-amazing back 9, rating of 4, it's just not a 3:

- too close to the race track with revving engines and squealing tires
- too bland front 9
- slow play
- the most awkward and unnatural mounding I've ever seen on a golf course, especially around the greens
- indifferent cart-path routing
- unfair nuisance cross-hazard sandy arroyos lined with rock-walls. . . only a foot deep but not visible from the tee -- ugly too
- no gps, no 150 yd stakes, and a lot of the sprinkler heads are missing yardages, too

But on the plus side,
- very friendly staff
- 2nd best breakfast tacos in the valley
- semi-amazing back 9
- good price

Worth playing, and worth playing again, just not likely unless my sister comes to town and wants to play somewhere not-too-hard. I wish I had pictures of the back 9.

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