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Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Stone Ridge in Prescott Valley


Yds. 7052, Par 72, Slope 132, Randy Heckenkemper

- Very, very good restaurant in club house. Definitely in contention for best fried-egg sandwich in the valley – even tho’ it is an hour-and-a-half away. . .
- Trash down both sides every hole. Perhaps this is not respectful of the natural mountain desert surroundings and the awesome scenery, but it is VERY penal: you are very unlikely to be able to hit a recovery shot from out off the grass.
- Every green is bisected by a ridge or else multiple tiers. Some both. With mounds and swales. Being on the correct side or the correct level is often not enough.
- Every green is tactically guarded by deep bunkers, sand and grass.
- Though more hilly than The Sanctuary, it is wider and longer.
- Long Bermuda rough in many places.

1. Short uphill dogleg left par 4. Green feels tiny since the longest makeable putt is about 2 feet.
2. Long straightaway par 5, downhill 2nd leg. Mounds on left, arroyo on right.
3. Long par 3, trash all the way down hill. Steep green.
4. Shortish par 4 slight uphill incline.
5. Amazing short, very down hill dogleg right par 4. No level lie past 150. So, a 7iron off the tee might be right, but it is so-o-o-o-o-o-o-o tempting to go for the green (totally blind, 300 yds) or to cut the corner of the dogleg (semi-blind, 210 – 230?), but the penalties for missing the grass are total.
6. Shortish, straightish par 4 downhill with huge sideboard on right. Could drive the green by hitting a hot hook to carom off the bumper mounds on the right – we of course plunked slices into the hill instead that still dribbled off into the fairway.
7. Short par 4 uphill dogleg right. Fairway banked like a race-track. GPS was wrong and since the green is so elevated, our blind shots to the wrong side of the green left IM-POSSIBLE putts over mounds so steep the ball rolled 40 feet away.
8. Down hill par 3. The long rough in the pothole next to the green restored my respect for grass bunkers.
9. Awkward, short par 5. Short drive means 2nd shot layup short of trash crossing fairway, making it a 4-shot hole. Tough 2-tiered green, very large and very steep, can easily make for another 4 shots.
10. Down hill lay-up drive to a hidden fairway left of where it “ought” to be; 200 yds. more uphill to the green.
11. 120 foot raised tee to fairway below rising sharply away from tee. Right side open away from desert knob on the left, but you still can’t see the green.
12. Downhill par 3. Excruciating 220 yds from the tips to another difficult putting green.
13. 100 foot raised tee to fairway below rising gently away from tee. Desert Knob on right. Though the yardage is very short, narrow fairway inhibits the drive and the elevated green tends to reject the approach.
14. 80 foot raised tee to fairway below rising gently away from tee. Reachable bunker on outside of dogleg right. Uphill green has false front, characteristic ridges & mounds, only more so.
15. Short dogleg right to an uphill raised green (not redundant). Tough tee-shot to fairway over a yawning bunker in the crook of the dogleg. Very tough green. Harder than 14!
16. Straightaway par 5. Hard fairway, lots of roll. Mountain on left, arroyo on right. Green lies flush with the fairway but drops off hard behind and to the right
17. 150 foot raised tee par 3. Green complex is a huge bowl that will feed the ball to the hole, but again, there are no easy putts.
18. Misbegotten s-shaped par 5. Blind *2nd* shot to a fairway that seems tiny, angled awkwardly. An impossible layup to an uphill, elevated green. Might be better just to go for the green in 2 even without any chance of making it, taking a drop 160 yards away, and hoping for a 1-putt-par.

This design is like poetry, a sonnet, to be exact:
The first 6 holes are “easy”
The middle 6 holes are “hard”
The next 3 holes look easy but are hard
The last 3 holes are supposed to look hard and be easy, but unfortunately, 18 is just too impossible.

5-6-7 and 13-14-15 are two very interesting stretches of short and shortish par 4 holes, that will make-or-break the round: I feel if I can maintain composure, keep patience, and don’t try to overpower these holes, I could score better, even if the middle-6 DOES kick my can.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


ASU Karsten

7057 Yds, Par 35-37=72, Slope 132

This is the Par 3 16th, their Signature Hole:, a double bogey for me, so call this sour grapes if you must: look at it: railroad tie bulkheads; severely scalloped bunkering & moundings; megawatt powerlines; water towers . . . not the most bucolic environment.

Now, we haven't been hardly anywhere else in the Valley that allowed walking, much less encouraged walking, but Mr. Science took some umbrage that they wouldn't let his pull cart on the course. It's hardly fair to lumber ASUK with the sins of every other course in PHX, but there it is. On top of the rubber mat practice area, the practice green with so few holes on it, the cart-paths-only, the mediocre restaurant, and the fact that the whole staff seemed a little wired because of the junior tournament the morning of the day we played (understandably), the ambience just seemed a little lacking.

The greenbelts are very wide here -- good for us, cuz it was awfully windy, and the desert areas are graded clean . . . not even any saguaros. Despite my wild driving, I didn't lose any balls, they always seemed to be just on the edge of the grass -- course I did lose 3 or 4 balls in the water. New balls. Mr. Science said, too, "Now I remember why I never play with new balls."

Now, Pete Dye is a Design Master. No point in debating that. And the shot values on these holes are very good, some might be great. But I hate the dang railroad ties everywhere, including the bulkheads. #9/#18 looks like a copy of Ancala's #9/#18.

The front 9, par 35, is deceptively easy looking; the back 9 didn't seem so much more back-breaking difficult, tho' it is par 37. Rusty & wind-blown, I shot 47-46=93; Mr. Science 44-47=91.

There's oodles of traps, grass bunkers, and water, and the tees are often stationed off-line so that the fairway looks impossible to hit to a first-timer. #2 & #8 exemplify this. On both, I hit a smooth 3 wood off the tee to place myself strategically, and both times wound up in a sand trap anyway. On #2 that meant a bogey. On #8, out of desperate frustration more than anything else, I hammered an 8iron uphill out of the sandtrap thru the trees blocking my view onto the green 25 feet short of the hole. Uphill on these greens is a lot easier than sidehill, for sure, and I made the birdie putt, even tho' it was a double-breaker.

Post-Birdie-Foul-Up decreed that I had to hit 2 balls into the water on #9, as a result.

We finished in 4 hours, but it had felt like a very slow 4 hours.

The layout feels a little cramped. Aside from the power lines and water towers hemming the course, there just are places where the holes are too close together. The giant bunker between #5 fairway and #6 green seems to be a source of constant friction. I'm convinced some old beezer picked up my ball when I was on # 5, and as we left #6 green a guy yelled to us, "Hey! Did you "see" my Titleist in here (the trap)?"

For sure, at least the last 6 holes bear investigation and analysis for their architecture. They are the most dynamic and interesting on the course. They fulfill the promise a "Pete Dye Links Design" holds out to us.


McCormick Ranch

7044 Yds, Par 72, Slope 137

Played a scramble at McCormick Ranch. Even tho' I was a little rusty, I maintained my training regimen by choosing brekky over the driving range.

I am sorry to report that I found the coffee at the Ranch disappointing; but I am more pleased to assert that the breakfast at the Ranch is the best in the Valley. I had CornBeefHash -- the Golfer's Breakfast! -- and I state unequivocally that this CBH reigns supreme in the valley not only of Golf Courses Cuisine, but of any other establishment in the Valley.

We played the Palms, started on # 9 -- Not the easiest starting hole one could hope for -- but suitably fortified I confidently smacked my ball down the middle of the island. A dang good shot. I know because it was next to Mr. Science's ball, and he looked satisfied. But on our second shot, I lobbed my 100%-certain half-9 iron onto the middle-of-the-green, but it just rolled and rolled off the back into the bunker. And so did Mr. Science. And so did one of our partners, but the other topped violently into the water.

Thus was the tone of the day set. Misfortune beset us and we were nobbled with a TOFU, someone who is Totally Effing Useless, can't hit, can't chip, and can't putt. Mr. Science & I had partnered a scramble 4 some at Kierland to 17-under, so we were hoping for a good showing, even without an Ace. But we were unnerved by the unseemly bogie on the first hole and Mr. Tofu's ineptitude.

It could have been, too, that the course was harder than it looked. It was designed by Desmond Muirhead. But there weren't any amazing, controversial holes: it all seemed so ordinary -- attractive in kind of an Old Phoenix Way, but ordinary. But it seemed to flummox us. Would like to play it again to see if I was just unlucky, careless, or just not good enough.

I call these the Duffer's Rules:

  1. Play Fast
  2. Stay Cheerful
  3. Keep an extra ball in your pocket at all times.

I had found that most good golfers would forgive my other faults for these virtues. But now after Mr. Tofu, I have to add a couple of even more rudimentary suggestions:

Last of all, in a scramble, the other players will talk about strategy without you, and, they will talk about you as if you aren't there. Don't take it personal, I never have all these years. . .8^). . .

So we were 3 under with 3 left to play, and we vowed to finish 6 under - and get Mr. Tofu his second drive for the tournament, but:

So, We finished 2 under, and 17 under won.

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