Sunday, January 29, 2006
Cave Creek is Phoenix's most popular municipal golf course, with about 100,000 rounds played annually. Started in 1983 as a landfill reclamation project, Cave Creek Golf Course is a pioneer of sorts in environmental golf course design. Success stories like Cave Creek prove that these sites can be put to worthwhile and environmentally friendly uses - good news for all concerned.
Note that Snyder has also done the Wailea Blue Course and Mountain Shadows here in the Valley. This is a great walking course, but not for those that define a good walking course as one without any hilly challenges. I would call it a very good desert links layout, tho' so many of the holes run North/South -- it never seems boring. We were told that it is much more "mogully", bumpy, hillocky than it used to be, due to subsidence in parts of the landfill. What is left are some amazingly tortured fairways with knobs and swales that can make a good shot roll offline or take a devastating bounce . . . and the greens! The greens were tiered in the first place, but now, some of them have been twisted and scalloped by "nature" in ways that Heckenkemper nor Von Hagge & Devlin ever dreamt.
Mr. Science & I both liked this course to the point of overrating it, perhaps, as a 3. He showed his standard consistency, 46-45=91; I, 46-48=94. The greens tore us up, tho' Mr Science felt with another round he could overcome his discomfort. I had at least 9 3putts, and I'm not so sure. I don't know when I've had so many 3putt bogeys and double-bogeys. But then, I haven't putted well since the scopion stung my thumb 2 months ago.
On the front 9, Mr. Science had a sandy par (#2) and a sandy bogey he was proud of on #9, a birdie on # 3, and a chip-in par on #8, the #1 handicap hole. He pulled his drive short left WELL off the elevated fairway, then hacked his ball over to the gravelly desert sand short right of the green, then poked a scottish bump-&-run over the green into the mounds on the left side of the green, and THEN, after watching me and one of our playing partners roll putts around the big bowl in the middle of that green, calmly chipped in with a 7iron, I think, from like 35 feet. But "nothing was happening," he reported, "on the back 9".
#8 was my only par on the front 9: I lambasted a tight draw down the middle to just left of the 150 yd. pole, then pureed a knock-down 7-iron towards the Red Flag on the ostensible front of the green over to the fringe on the left side, not that far from where Mr. Scince wound up; I made one of the many great lag putts I made all day and somehow made the 3 foot slider for my Par.
#13, the par 3 shown in the picture up above was my best shot of the day, a 180 yd 4iron pin high in the middle of the green, but what the picture doesn't show is how the right side of that green is sunken 1.5 or 2 feet below the middle, and maybe 4 feet from the far-left side of the green, so a 2-putt par was still fantastic -- I made a great lag put there that almost went in, but trying to make birdie would have just been the first of a 3putt.
I sort of remember the tortured fairways and heinous greens on the front 9, but #8 & #9 are really the only ones I remember clearly. The Back 9, however, especially from #12 on, one has to admit are just beautiful holes.
On # 10 -- while we waited for the fairway to clear, Mr. Science gave us all a sand lesson, since we were all marveling at the buried lie sand shot he'd played so well on #9: he dug it out, got it over the lip, and put plenty of roll on it, then made the putt to save bogey, but it's too long to go into here, maybe we'll post that later --
On # 10, the short par 4, I foozled my drive -- the one resolution I had after the last few weeks was NOT to foozle ANY drives -- oh, well -- but I kept my composure and hit a jaw-dropping perfect little 5wood draw onto the green off a slice lie, but I was still 50 feet and 3 putts away on that huge left-to-right sloping green. Even after watching the others putt, I couldn't make myself borrow enough against the break.
These, BTW, have to be the largest greens and bunkers I have ever seen on a muni. The bunkers are kinda funky looking and filled with that nasty sand that the City apparently gets a bulk deal on, but they were very well maintained. Nobody, even me can use the sand as an excuse for a bad shot.
On # 11, an intimidating looking par 5, 521 yds, fairway elevated from junk on the left and some water on the right, I hit a fantastic drive that left me with only 240 yards to the green, but a down hill lie, so I semi-chunked it. I still only had 110 to the green, but for like the 3rd time that day I left my wedge short of the green, chipped miles past the pin, then three-putted trying to get back down to the cup.
#12 is a sharp dogleg right short par 4, with HUGE Gum trees guarding the dogleg. One has to wonder why, when you can SEE the 150-post right in front of you in the middle of the dogleg fairway, why anyone would ever go into those trees, but three of us did, and none of us could rescue a par from there.
#13 is that gorgeous par 3 illustrated above.
#14 is a straightaway long par 4 to a down hill fairway guarded by more huge Gum trees and water. I got behind a tree, hit my safety in the water, bladed my wedge into a trap, took 3 to get out for a 9. Mr Science parred this hole, so I think I just blew a tire. I still think its a very attractive, woodsy hole, but I had to grab a handfull of eucalyptis leaves to revive myself.
#15 is another, shorter par 4 with Gum trees, but no water, but I skulled my way to a 6, anyway.
on # 16, Mr. Science broke out the beers and thus restored, I resolved to par into the house to reclaim my round. I hit a good drive down the right side, and so did Mr. Science. I tried to draw a 5 wood away from the trees on the right into the middle of the fairway, but it went straight into them; Mr. Science tried to fade a ball around the trees on the right but the wind blew it back into the trees anyway. As we walked up, I said, of the ball we could see, "Gee that's a horrible lie, under the tree and behind the water!" all the while thinking it was my ball, but it was Mr. Science's. Mine was sitting in the muddy edge of the water hazard. Mr. Science hit a great shot somehow, that rolled up onto the green, say 30 feet from the pin. I too hit a rather good shot, using a de-lofted PW to pick the ball clean out of the mud that rolled from the front of the green to 18 ft past the pin. I claimed a par there, but Mr Science took a bogey.
on #17, a 208 yd. uphill par 3, I hit a beautiful tight draw 5wood that disappeared over the front lip of the green. Mr. Science was left of the green, pin high. Now this green deserves discussion: it might be that the subsidence has exaggerated the design of this green just a touch too much. The pin was sitting in a swale 8 feet below the front and left side of the front 1/3 of the green. I just made a wave past the ball with my putter to get it rolling and it rolled 5 feet past the pin. Mr. Science just coughed into his hand behind his ball and it rolled down the gully 8 or 10 feet past. I did get my par, but Mr. Science had another bogey.
#18 is an awkward tee shot over the cave creek wash, similar to a hole at the TPC (#5?) where the fairway seems go off at a wierd angle from the t-box. How much to bite off? Our playing partners were trying to get us to aim at the trap on the left, but that would mean flying the ball 280+, we figgered later. So we aimed right of that and I wound up about 10 yds back of the 150 pole, and Mr. Science about 200 yds away. The wind was behind us. Mr. Science hit a choke-down 3wood into the mounds on the right side front of the green. . . the ball kicked hard left, rolled over the front, disappeared from view. . . "Watch it, Watch it!" cried our partners as we stood on tip-toe trying to see. Then his ball slowly rolled back into view, past the pin, 12 ft left.
"I meant to do that!" said Mr. Science.
Flush with confidence in my mission to par-into-the-house, I hit a choke down 5iron off my launching pad mound lie that flew impossibly high, landed on the front of the green, rolled out of sight into a swale, then reappeared rolling past the pin, 18 ft. Oh, just, GREAT, another dang downhill putt, another 3 putt for me, going for the birdie. Mr. Science finished with a flourish, a lip-out birdie, settling for a par.
Mediocre breakfast sandwich. Above average Pro Shop.