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Saturday, December 10, 2005


Corte Bella

Par 72, 7011 yds, Slope 129?, Gary Panks

Another Bunker-to-Bunker tournament, with Mr. Science, his old friend TJ, and The Defenestrator.

I felt called upon to renew an old competitive tradition I had with my regular partner back in Texas: "The Ritual Exchange of Excuses". This sombre ceremony allows the competitors to announce their shortcomings BEFORE they fail, which theoretically ought to permit greater success from reduced tension.
All the holes at Corte Bella, I'll say now, look basically the same to me: very wide, plush velvet green fairways; mildly elevated tees and greens; huge sculptured amoeba bunkers that were very aesthetically pleasing, but not necessarily in play, nor very natural looking, as if they had been set on the hole, rather than built in. It's not that the course is flat, it's just that, on some holes on some courses, the green is below the fairway. Having 14 semi-blind shots to elevated greens gets a little old, after awhile. The desert has been manicured with red Sedona rock, roman cypress, & palm trees. No scrub, no saguara, no cactus of any kind.

The greens were fast and true, and interestingly contoured.

We got 5 under after 6 or 7 holes and then never got close to another birdie or bogey the rest of the day. The reads & speeds just totally threw us on any putt longer than 4 feet.

It was kinda freaky how we got low so fast. TJ hit a 5 iron 4 inches from the par 3 4 th hole, where we tho't the closest-to-the-pin was but the B2B people had changed it at the last minute. The defenestrator hit 2 approach shots on par 4s that rolled around the mounds on the green to kick in distance from the cup, like pro-shots. But then, we ran out of miracle shots, and just parred into the house. There were some 12 & 15 footers we ought to have made, but my scorpion sting apparently affected my touch. . . I was putting 10 feet past every hole and couldn't stop.

Didn't affect my long shots, even tho' my arm would quiver so much it made me nauseaus -- in fact, my arm felt so good the next day I am making this medical advice to everyone: If you are stung by a scorpion, play 18 holes of golf: physical activity seems to mitigate the poison.

The course was well-maintained, and the staff was friendly, attentive, and courteous, in the Troon tradition. Nice locker room.

The course will benefit with age -- it's only a year old now. . . the decorative landscaping will grow out a little bit and the hard edges in the greens will soften a little bit. Mr. Science give it a 2, cuz he favors the conditions and amenities; I give it a 3 cuz it could never be argued as THE best course in the Valley, so it can't be a 2, either. I don't favor courses which only defense is the wind and unputtable pin positions -- I prefer some challenge out in the fairway, even if it is only psychological, a la' McKinzie.

OTOH. . . I think there IS some potential there . . . # 18 at Corte Bella reminds me of # 18 at Pine Hurst #2 (this is not #18, but typical): it had a exagerated elevated green with steep drop offs on all sides. The difference being the difference between the world-class eccentricity of Pine Hurst #2 and just an interesting hole: the rough creeps up the side of the sides of green mound, so that tho' your ball will roll off like at PH#2, it will also hang up in the rough instead of rolling all the way down, giving the golfer a chance to see his target for the recovery chip instead of a blind shot from the bottom of the hill. Much easier. CB#18 is a par 5 so you're (I'm) hitting a short wedge into the green, rather than the mid-iron at PH#2#18 . . . but mine still went over. . . I don't know that it would the second time I play the hole.

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