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Thursday, January 26, 2006



6936 Yds, Par 72, Slope 129, by Gary Panks


This course shows what Gary Panks can do with a good piece of ground. The routing is economic in acreage, but varied in elevation and clever in spacing so that one hole's play doesn't often interfere with another's. Only on the first hole, when Mr. Science bladed his bunker shot over into the swale behind the green -- then there was some confusion in balls with an errant 4some near the 7th green.

"Only a great back-17 can rescue a 4-rating for this course," he complained, "that trap was full of footprints and a broken rake!" explaining his poor play. Like Miss Haversham's Mouldering Wedding Cake, the sides and shoulders of all the bunkers are caving in, and the dirty sand & gravel composition of the bunker is nasty.

Gary Panks should rush out there and rescue his course, because whether he was paid or gifted his services, his reputation could suffer unfairly from its poor condition. I think it is an excellent design over a great piece of property with fantastic views of South Mountain.

The two short par 4s, # 8 & #17 are diabolically bunkered and have water guarding the green. I guess some guys would call those drivable, but there is a very low risk/reward ratio. Mr. Science & I debated amiably how to play them . . . On #8, I hit 3 wood-PW, and he hit 5 iron-7iron and we wound up a foot from each other on the green. On #17, I hit 4iron-PW and he hit 3iron-7iron and I wound up in a bunker and him over the green. Mr Science had to hit a provisional after a very weak 3 iron, and he hit his driver about 40 yds short of the green, over the water. "THAT's the way to play THAT hole!" he told me.

This design is poetry, tho' not a sonnet like Stone Ridge, rather a sombre Spenserian couplet:
4-5-3, 4-5-4, 3-4-4
5-4-4, 3-4-5, 3-4-4

. . . short par 3 - short par 4 - long par 4.

Those par 3s may be the shortest set in the valley, but those greens are the most heavily bunkered on the course -- deep, amoeba-shaped traps that would be tough enough in good shape.

I had a 41-52=93, while Mr. Science carded his usual consistent - if higher than usual - 46-45=91 . . . he was grumbling on the front 9, but grunted in satisfaction at the final score, "At least the equilibrium in the Universe has been Restored."

I certainly felt like the Cosmos conspired against me on the back 9. I was playing almost great, with a birdie and 2 pars on the last 4 holes of the front 9, and stood 115 yds short of the green on #10 with my sure-fire half-9 third shot, but the next thing I knew, I had 2 balls in the water then a 2 putt to save a 9; then the same thing happened to me on #18.

A good course in need of some TLC.

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