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Saturday, April 29, 2006



6673 yds, Par 71, Slope 128, by Brian Curley


Report from Mr. Science:

They call themselves the best-kept secret in the valley. That could be true. The Lost Dutchman Gold Mine might be easier to find. The maps are wrong, so you can't go up 303 from I-10 to Camelback, it dead-ends before you get there. Come in from the East. Their icon is a fighter plane, and I don't recall a Navy jet called a Falcon, so it must have been Air Force. It looks like an A-6, sort of.

The clubhouse is totally unimposing -- there's a portrait of the Three Stooges playing golf in the men's ro
om, along with a poster of The Masters winners. In the Pro Shop is a poster for Caddyshack. The cart girl was the most pleasant I've seen. Even Mrs. Science remarked that she was the nicest she'd ever come across. The golf course is in concert with the surrounding property, which seems to be an abandoned Air Force base. OK, that's a little harsh, but this is certainly not a manicured Scottsdale resort course. It is a desert course, but probably as close to Links style as you'll find here. The greens ran very true, though not particularly fast, and the fairways were hard and fast.

Our playing partners were hitting from the white tees, so I did, too. 6294 yards, par 71, slope 119. From the blues it stretches to 6733 yards. It does not play short, though. All 4 of the par 5's are over 500 yards, and two par 3's over 200. Fairway bunkers are well-placed on the par 4's which are short, on average, but all 339 or more.

#1 is a par 5, 521 yards, and I was within lob-wedge distance for my third shot. And for my 4th. 2-putt bogey and a disappointing start. But, after a kick-in birdie on the par-4 5th I was even par again. 7 is the #1 handicap hole, 425 yards, and it got me for a double bogey. There's not much sand in that left bunker. On 8 I pulled a 3-wood into a bush and took bogey 6. After a par on 9, I had 38 (3 over) for the front. Mrs. Science (Handicap Index: 40) shot 47 with three pars, including a chip-in par on the first. You get a Mulligan on the first hole, don't you?

Then I parred the next 7 holes. I was really in the zone, hitting the first 6 greens and then getting up and down from 30 yards on the 406-yard 16th. 17 is a par 3 with nothing but desert and a huge bunker in your face, and I hit a 6-iron 8 feet above the hole. Well, 8 feet past, but maybe only 6 feet above. I got the putt onto the fall line (it broke a foot) and it went in for birdie. Good drive and good 3-wood on the par-5 18th, and I knew I needed bogey to shoot my best score ever. Pitching wedge to 20 feet. 3 putts to win. Down hill. The first one came up 5 feet short, but I made the par putt for 2-over par 73. It must have been the 12th 5-footer I had made today. 8 greens in regulation on the back.

I have to rate this a 3, considering the others that are 3's on our list. It is certainly a good value for money, not fancy but a very playable course. I'll be interested to see what Cactus Dave thinks of the design features. The architects are Brian Curley and Grant Haserot.

Friday, April 28, 2006


Rancho Manana

6016 Yds, Par 70, Slope 134, by Bill Johnston

(this is an impressive list of course-designs, even tho' few: The Dominion in TX is a celebrated layout in San Antonio, The Pointe at LookOut Mountain is Great, too).


They say: "RANCHO MANANA GOLF CLUB, located in the heart of the Sonoran Desert in historic Cave Creek, Arizona, features a par 70, championship course with dramatic elevation changes and unspoiled desert terrain. Our stunning, high desert course invites you to match your skills against nature while enjoying the unparalleled and unforgettable surrounding desert. It's where Mother Nature plays!"

This round was Important. We, Mr. Science & I, are on a quest, not only to play all Phoenix Golf Courses, but to rate them, rank them, and analyze why we like the ones we do. I think Mr. Science likes We-Ko-Pa again as #1, but he ranks 8 as being in the #1 category. Not very scientific, I sniff, and incorrect, since there can be only 1 #1, and that #1 is Rancho Manana. Would Rancho Manana meet this challenge and retain its premier ranking with this Steely-Eyed & Flinty-hearted golf blogger? Keep Reading.

Mr. Science & I agree, not on so many issues, but absolutely on the important issues, such as, "How should one devote all of one's available spare time?" (Playing Golf is the only correct answer) We agree on our Calvinistic approach to golf (we do not admit that there is any other way than this true Paganican Life, but we do see there are many who fall short and we forgive them), but also, a generosity of spirit that makes our Quest an enjoyable one. All in the spirit of Inquisitiveness of Thoreau: "I am wealthy in sunny days, and I have spent them lavishly." And like Thoreau, we intend to do it economically.

Mr. Science is excellent at scoping out the bargains on the internet, from GolfNow and AZCentral, and half-a-dozen other daily emails he gets. Sometimes we get free rounds as raffle prizes at tournaments, or answer trivia questions right at some Par 3 challenge, or once, just once, I won a contest from AZCentral for a golf course review. Saweeeeet! The prize was this round at Rancho Manana.

Manana means "tomorrow" -- usually in the context of indolent procrastination, but when I was young, we often traipsed eastward to Ft. Worth, to see a show at Casa Manana, a theatre in the round. There, manana means "the Future", in a sort-of avant garde sense. Rancho Manana might mean, then, a kind-of Never-Never-Land, a golfer's paradise.

I love the whole gestalt of Rancho Manana neighborhood, which is mostly huge adobe-style Casa Grandes. The clubhouse is very nice, part of a complex of buildings that includes the Tonto Restaurant, but nothing is opulent, like the Phoenician Resort, just comfortable. We enjoyed the Cowboy-Golfers Prints they had framed around the pro shop.

We checked in and in our regular habit, Mr Science went off to bust a bucket while I warmed-up over lunch. I sat in the shade of a large tree on the patio outside the half-way house that sits on Hole 11 by the club house, eating my ordinary cheeseburger & chips lunch. We were taking comp-time again after a grueling weekend of work, and I found it very restful.

They called us early to the tee, so I didn't even have time to putt. I went on over to the First Tee and met our playing partners, Otis & Janelle. I could tell immediately by their cultivated accent that they were from the South: Virginia. Otis was great to play with, and Janelle was knowledgeable, just, apparently unwilling to take on the challenge.

<-- These Helpful Hints are English Bull, they seem to make sense, but really they are useless. Otis birdied the first hole, his only one. But I hooked my 5 iron approach (after a very weak drive) into Andoral Wash, left of the fairway, which cost me a triple bogey, all told. See, it seems like good advice, but the thing is, after #1, you can't hit it anywhere but the fairway or you are in trouble.

I chunked a couple approach shots on #2 from steep downhill lies, while Mr. Science went over the green and Otis flew over the green into the creek behind the green.

#3 is the first time the inevitable claustrophobia grabs hold. From the back tee it seems all you're looking at are pock-marked saguaros, then the green is elevated and tilted severely right-to-left. It doesn't look like a ball will stick, and the cavernous traps guarding the green look huge.

#4 is the hardest hole in Phoenix. It is definitely in the 18 Best, no matter if AZCentral says different -- I think it's the best hole in Phoenix. And it's one of, if not THE, most beautiful hole in Phoenix.

This picture shows my normal POV for my approach (in the desert on the left, the wrong side of the dogleg). Mr. Science figgers it's 60 feet uphill for the tee shot, then another 60 ft uphill for the approach. With the cross-hazard and the desert encroaching in on the fairway that tee shot is daunting, but it seems impossible to approach the green successfully from a steeply uneven lie to such an elevated green. With the wind we had that day, it was very complicated calculus to reckon the right club. Tough green, too.

#5 is a testy Par 3, long & narrow, a little downhill, with a green surrounded by trouble behind and left. The comical look on Otis' face when he realized his chip had rolled past the pin, off the green, and into the hidden back bunker made us laugh -- he may have misjudged the course after that opening birdie, even tho' we told him what to expect.

#6 is a short par 5, narrow, but downhill, so reachable in 2 for even me, but you have to have an A game to hit that green, protected as it is in the front with a large, LARGE bunker. I left my 4 iron shot just on the cusp of that bunker, cuz I knew there was no way this duffer was going to float a 5 wood over that bunker onto the green, but it wasn't until my little pitch over the trap rolled all the way across that green that I realized the green sorta slopes away from the fairway, too. Mr Science had sorta fanned his drive over into the grassy mounds along the right rough, then sorta squibbed his 2nd shot into the rough on the right again, but his 3rd shot from 70 yds almost knocked the pin down.

"Did I ever told you," I asked Mr Science, "how much it irritates me that you get inside my ball from further away?"

"Why, yes, I believe you have," Mr Science replied mildly.

But I eyeballed that little putt, 18 ft from the 2nd fringe -- this has been my specialitie lately -- and sure enough, holed it anyway for my birdie. Mr. Science burned an edge with his for a tap-in par.

"Doesn't that eat away at you," I teased Mr Science, "that I got my birdie from off the green and you missed an almost-a-gimmie?"

"Not at all!" declared Mr Science, "I am happy for you to get a birdie; I am rooting for you to make birdies!"

Well! didn't that make me feel a bout a foot tall?

Then I heard him say under his breath, "Besides it will stop your whining, for a while." 8^D

#7 is an awe-inspiring downhill par 3, with nothing but trouble all around. Enamored of my birdie, natcherly, I wound up over the green and bogeyed.

#8 I felt I was on my game now and confidently drove the ball into the fairway on the short par 4 . . . actually toooooo close, because that left a thin lie pop up pitch over the large and deep sand traps. My little quarter-wedge lob shot came a foot short from perfection, which meant failure. Bogey.

#9 is so similar to #7 that the deja vu is debilitating. But this hole is a club shorter; the green shows its thin side to the tee, unlike 7; the green has a long deep bunker down each side. I was in the trap, made a great sand shot, but missed the 8 footer. Bogey.

#10 is a par 5, right next to #18 . . . the only really dangerous part of the course as the people on 18 can't see any fairway except #10, so that's where they hit. There's a tree in the middle of the fairway that interferes with both your 2nd & 3rd shots, just messing with your head. It feels very narrow between the houses and the desert mounds separating 10 & 18. Bogey.

#11 is an apparent nothing hole, #18 handicap, 126 yds par 3 next to the halfway house. I'd sat and watched 4 groups come thru while I ate lunch. Not half the golfers hit the green. Not a quarter made par. Neither did I.

#12 restores one's sense of claustrophobia, this time with houses on the left and desert on the right. It's really pretty wide, but if your drive is sufficiently inhibited, you can't reach the way-downhill-green, protected by the arroyo in front, traps on the sides and a creek bed in back.

#13 introduces a lake into the paranoia. The very narrow fairway is squeezed by the Desert on the left and the water on the right, there's room, but it doesn't feel like it. I hit a good drive but wound up on the side of a knob, trying to hit a half-wedge downhill into the wind. Pin-high, but off the green . . . bogey.

#14 is another short par 3, 148 yds, over water, and the green looks like it is sticking out into nothing, elevated as it is over a ring of sand-traps with a backdrop of reeds. I pulled my shot into one of the bunkers, and the ball rolled up right against the bulkhead. Double bogey.

All this time I feel like I'm playing good, but events conspire against me -- the surest sign of a good course I know. . . meanwhile Mr. Science is cruising along, making pars, but fewer on the back 9 than the front.

#15 apparently fooled all 3 of us somehow, both Mr Science and Otis were off in the lake on the right, and I was just a few yards away myself, but dry. . . There's plenty of room over on the left, but also out-of-bounds. This fairway has a huge bowl in it that might make for some interesting shots. I'd like to find out someday. A Freakishly good chip got me a tap-in par.

#16 seems like a dangerous place, just to the left and below the 13# tee. This beautiful par 5 swoops in a graceful curve right, dares you to cut the corner guarded by trees gorged on creek water. Mansions looming over the left side of the fairway give you that claustrophobic feeling again, but there is room. I actually clipped a saguaro with my drive that caromed back into the fairway. I babied a 3 wood down to where I could see the green. But the large traps in front made me play long over the green again. 2-putt par.

#17 is another par 3 like # 14 in that there's no obvious trouble, but the foreboding persists. It looks like a simple shot with no hazards, but the giant bunkers guarding the green and the way the green surface slopes right-to-left, looks like it won't hold a shot. I hit a hosel-push into the sandtrap. Double Bogey.

#18 tee shot is an act of faith: that there will be a fairway for your ball instead of the desert mounds on the left and houses on the right. After 2 days of practice, I confidently hit it to theoretical postion A. OK. I pulled my second shot over some trees on the left, away from the water, short of the arroyo in front of the green, which I knew was there but couldn't see. Then I flat foozled my pitch shot to the green into the trap. Bogey.

Even in the wind, on these treacherous greens, on a course 19 slope points higher than the course we played yesterday, Arizona Traditions, we both scored better: I had an unusually symmetrical 45-45=90, with 3 pars & a birdie; Mr. Science, an unusually unsymmetrical 40-44=84, with 8 pars.

I have not changed my mind. I still think Rancho Manana is the # 1 course in Phoenix. It is as beautiful as any other course, has as beautiful scenery, has golf values the equal of any, has the #1 hole in the valley, has wind, water, sand, desert, trees, cactus, elevation changes, velvet fairways, fluffy-sandy traps, variety, tortured greens.

The juxtaposition of Rancho Manana to Arizona Traditions is telling, I think. They are both short-ish courses, Par 70, but Golf at Rancho Manana is an otherwordly experience, comparatively.

The lopsided (34-36) design works to the advantage of the charm of Rancho Manana, rather than appearing as a negative.

The par 5s are all unique and distinctive.
The par 3s, on the other hand, 3 to each side, resemble each other either as a similar or an opposite: #7 & #9 are both long and hugely down hill; # 14 & #17 seem like short uphill opposites to those; #5 and #11 are the 17th & 18th handicap holes.
The par 4s are the holes that seem the most constricted, these holes are the essence of Rancho Manana:
#2, #3, #4,#8, #12, #13 are each a great hole in its own right.

The mixture of those par 4s with the unique par 5s and the rhyming par 3s makes a very good design. I like the 5-3-4, 4-3-4, 5-3-5 back 9. The course is laid out very intelligently to take advantage of the terrain, which, as Mr Science says, you wouldn't believe could hold a golf course until you saw it there.

A course you could play everyday forever without getting bored: A Golfer's Never-Never-Land.

Just a word about the Tonto Restaurant: It is excellent. Mrs. Science & Mrs. Cactus drove up to join us for dinner there after our round. The men had the NY Strip cooked with bleu cheese; the ladies had the Tenderloin Medallions. We drank Tontoritas (which use orange juice instead of Triple Sec).

Click on the gold "Rancho Manana" at the top to link to the golf course web site . . . check out the photo gallery.


Arizona Traditions

6235 Yds, Par 70, Slope 115, by Dick Bailey


Arizona Golf Courses

They say: "A challenging par-70 parkland style course with spectacular views of the White Tank Mountains. Rolling terrain, an abundance of mature trees and undulating greens make Arizona Traditions one of Greater Phoenix`s most unique golf courses!"

We played in a kind-of tournament put on by GolfNow.Com, nee Golf602.Com, a handy site to make golf reservations, btw. They're doing this as a series, like one-a-month, so it's good. But . . .

  1. The "restaurant" has a hot grill outside, only . . . so getting your hamburger, or whatever, is chancy, as I found out . . . they just simply didn't make it, or give it to me, or gave it to somebody else . . . they gave my money back easily enough, but it all interrupted my training regimen.
  2. The tournament "launch" was very disorganized, with multiple guys giving orders of all sorts, then just throwing up their hands and saying "Oh, just go down the street and turn left past those houses".
  3. When we got to our appointed tee, there were "members" still traversing our holes. Indeed, while we waited, another foursome came from behind us, and just zoomed past us to the tee -- so we just waited some more.
  4. The course itself is fine . . . a 3, we agree . . . it's short, but its only Par 70 -- so I wonder, does that hold down the Slope, too? We braved a 2-club wind all day, which made the course play tough in places -- hardly ever seemed like we were hitting WITH the wind -- but it IS wide open and the well-groomed desert areas are more like economic decorations than hazards. But at least one hole was bizarre: #5, I mean. Looks like they planted 3 or 5 pine trees along the left edge of the white tees to make the back tee shot more difficult, and it did. Those trees on the right make the lake on the right in the inside of the dogleg practically unavoidable: 2 of our foursome wound up in the lake, and I put such a land-lock on my drive that I pull-heel-hooked my ball into the grassy swales left of the fairway. That is dry, but it is a tough shot, and cost me a bogey.

Without my "warm-up" under my belt, my blood sugar plummeted, and I took a 10 at the Par 5 # 13. The course is fun, and interesting, but not so challenging as to cause quintuple bogeys . . . without the wind, it wouldn't happen. I grabbed a ham sandwich on stale bread at the turn, but it was too late, I was already doomed to hypoglycemic erraticality. Wound up with a 44-49=93; Mr. Science Stumbled to a 46-43=89 (that 9 on # 5). I remember something disagreeable about the greens, but I can't remember what it was, now . . . extra slow, I guess, and full of extra break as the ball slowed down around the hole . . . tough to make putts that way.

We worried over every shot, "What if it's this windy at Rancho Manana tomorrow?"

We worried over every putt, "How are we going to adjust to the greens at Rancho Manana after these croquet lawns?"

Mr. Science tho't he might have a chance to win the tournament with his net 74, but some sandbagger turned in a net 63. I've never had any luck in those dynamic handicap tourneys, but I scored a Lob Wedge in the Raffle: it has Golf602 on the sole of the club: a collector's item.

Mr. Science explains the tournament: 6 holes are picked at random (The club-pros pick the holes). Multiply your score for those 6 by 3, to get an 18-hole score. Subtract par, and take 80%. That's your handicap. Gross - Handicap = net. Natcherly he was looking over the scorer's shoulders while they played with their laptop spreadsheet: "Hey, that's not right!" he said, pointing to his score. They had to fix their calculations, but it didn't help.

Turned out the guys we played with were running the tournament . . . it was kinda distracting even after I realized it . . . they were giving themselves putts and drops not allowed under normal tournament rules . . . but they weren't in the tournament! I had to keep reminding myself not to rake off the tap-ins like they did, but to putt them out . . . 8^D . . .They gave us Golf602 ball markers, too: more collector items.

Thank you GolfNow!

Saturday, April 15, 2006


Tatum Ranch

6856 Yds, Par 72, Slope 127, by Robert Cupp


They Say: At Tatum Ranch, we believe the private golf experience should be equally challenging, rewarding and fun. Our 18-hole, 6859 yard Robert Cupp designed golf course is a demanding yet enjoyable layout that allows golfers of any skill level to enjoy playing time and time again. This risk-reward course will ignite all of your senses with impeccable manicured greens, expansive rolling fairways, panoramic mountain views and desert flora.

Mr. Science recollects: This is a more difficult course, on a more difficult day, a little bit windy. Lots of local knowledge required, and there were times I found out too late that I had hit the ball someplace that you just can't play from. Still, I got off the tee really well most of the time, and it was fun. After starting with 2 double bogeys, I was not expecting anything great. Then after 5 holes I was only 3 over par, so my spirits picked up. In the end, only 7 pars and a birdie, two 7's and two 6's on the card for 86.

We had started on 13, so we were forced to play 6 more holes to get back to the clubhouse, and that was when I drove the ball past Clinton, who is a long hitter and was playing the very back tees (except for this one hole) and still hitting last from the fairway all day. I made sure Cactus Dave took note of the fact that both of us were in the middle of the fairway, and Clinton was hitting first. Cactus Dave responded with an ethnic slur which caused me to miss my next shot, but I made par anyway. nyah-nyah, nyah-nyah-nyah.

Nothing like playing courses like Dobson Ranch and Apache Creek to highlight the difference between the top-notch courses and the also-rans. The artfully contoured velvet fairways, the large amoeba shaped bunkers, the convulsed, yet smooth-rolling greens all make the experience better. That combined with the fact we were playing hooky from work (taking comp time in grownup-speak) made it all the sweeter.

My play benefited from the two previous rounds the two previous days, so much so that at times I seemed delirious: I chipped in 3 times. On #13, our starting hole, my 30 foot lag putt off the fringe came off the huge tongue-shaped mound bisecting the green and rolled into the hole for a birdie; On #18, fresh off the first of my two quadruple-bogies on par 5s, which included blading a downhill wedge off a mound over the green, this time instead, the same shot bumped-and-ran perfectly into the hole to save par; on #8, after a toe-hit double cross wound up in the desert fight of the green, a semi-spectacular pitch over the mounds and an uphill 15 footer from the fringe got me another par. I had 8 pars and a birdie for a 47-46=93. I was playing so much better this day than the previous two, it is obvious that a little local knowledge really helps on this course: an infallible tip that the course is good. I hit several fairway shots that were so pure they were on the back of the green, which is very wrong on this course.

About this alleged racial slur: I merely observed that we as a group had consumed several beers by that time, and whereas for Mr. Science, who is Irish, this seemed a benefit, while for Clinton the Ace, who is not Irish, it was not. Now maybe that was out of line, but I was down in the trash left of the fairway on that par 5 17th hole again, and possibly a certain amount of peevishness had crept into my mien.

But I never apologize. Never! As noted by the great golf writer P.G. Wodehouse, "the Right Sort of people do not require apologies, and the Wrong Sort will make mean use of them."


Dobson Ranch

6712 Yds, Par 72, Slope 123, by Gary Panks


They Say: Dobson Ranch Golf Course is an 18-hole championship golf course featuring mature landscaping and large greens. Twice voted Best Public Golf Course by readers of a popular Valley entertainment guide, golfers appreciate the excellent course condition and playability.

[Can you believe that's the picture they use to advertise themselves?]

This'd be more like the low-end Muni efforts by Gary Panks, than the more exotic opportunities he has had. It's still a nice course, similar in condition to Apache Creek, and almost as flat, but with tons more trees and no desert transition areas . . . a park-style course in the old Phoenix mold.

The Clubhouse complex deserves mention: it is huge, with several outbuildings, including one for club repair (I couldn't tell if it was ever open); the driving range is also rather commodious; there are two practice greens, and if the whole course was a lush as this area, it would be a very fine resort facility. The Ranch House Restaurant and Bar which serves the golf course instead of the caddy-shack kind of operation was a little strange, full of antiques and bric-a-brac like it'd been decorated by a bunch of little old ladies, but the corned beef hash was mighty tasty and my old club in Houston had a piano bar, so, who is to say what's right?

But despite being suitably fortified and "warmed up" by playing the day before at Apache Creek, I couldn't get started well playing consistent until the 8th hole, from there on out, I had 7 pars; something about shortening my backswing and swinging under control, I guess. I wound up with a 52-44=96. Which didn't feel great, but a heckuva lot better than the daylong torture the day before. Note that back 9 is 500 yds shorter than the front nine, tho'.

Mr. Science Reminisces: Another good round, overall, but much less consistent. Better ball-striking even than yesterday, but the putting was lacking. I arrived at the 18th tee having made 10 pars and one birdie, but 6 over par and thinking I was 5 over. 65 yards from the pin in 2 on the par-5 18th, needing to get up and down to, I thought, again equal my best. 55 yards from the pin in 3, thinking I can still break 80 even with a double bogey. Shot 80.

Yeah, I remember that last hole. While Mr. Science floundered there, I finished strong. Condition-wise this course has it all over the other Phoenix-area Munis, but that doesn't make it a better golf course than Cave Creek, Aguilera, or Papago.


Apache Creek

6795 Yds, Par 71, Slope 128, by Joe Alsip

They say: Apache Creek is turf-style (meaning links?) desert course with transitional areas framing the fairways, making accurate tee-shots an absolute must . . . The small-to-medium-sized greens can be a bit feisty. However, with a little skill, you can capture a few birdies . . .


Those are the Superstition mountains in the background , very picturesque. Everything was off -- for me -- starting with the kitchen help holding my breakfast sandwich cuz they didn't realize that me sitting there meant I was the one who ordered it. It was good, but I was already irritated. Then I musta underestimated the golf course, too. It IS flatter than a tortilla, but it is not ugly, not easy, and not short. I would say that the fairways are artfully bent into dog legs so that they appear transversable, but they are not. The desert areas seem groomed and open, but there is tons of trouble out there, as I found out. Then the greens -- they call them "feisty" -- I would call them almost unfair in certain pin placements, but that could be because I putted even worse than my recent norm.

The swooping tier-line on the first green begins right at the corner of the bunker guarding the left half of the green. Our pin placement was right on the slope of that tier snuggled behind that trap. Putts below the hole were very slow; putts above were in certain danger of rolling way past the hole, down the slope to the next tier.

The second green has a large, subtle mound in the back quadrant of the large-ish green sloping severely back-to-front. That mound affects putts in unforeseen ways, even many feet away from its top.

The third green slopes so much a ball hit short of the top tier may not stay on the green, and it's a narrow little green, too, over water, and elevated over the long rough surrounding the green.

These greens weren't particularly smooth, but not unputtably bumpy either. I hadn't played for 3 weeks, so my tee-and-fairway games were inconsistent, and naturally, one's shortgame will suffer after such a layoff and these greens were extra punishing to my rusty game. That put even more pressure on my tee-to-green game, with unhappy results.

All these greens are creatively challenging, I think, but the only other one I remember well was #9, which has a huge mound intruding into the green from the top-center. Three of us had wound up on the back-right corner of the green, windblown. The two first of us to hit rolled the ball off the mound, past the hole 12 or 15 feet: an impossible putt. Mr. Science cleverly left his first putt 8 feet short, but mostly uphill, which he was able to convert for a par. The two of us left with longer, but straight uphill putts couldn't match him.

My round went downhill from there, including two holes I couldn't finish, 49-52+101. Compared to Mr. Science's round it felt like an Evening at Abu Gharib. Then on the way home, I realized I had no housekey and my wife was out at the Renaissance Festival. Perfect, Just Perfect.

Mr. Science Sez: I equaled the best round of my life, 4 over par 75. And, on a 6795-yard course, from the Championship tees. It was very consistent, only one birdie and 5 bogeys. Putting was very good, but only 1 long one went in that I can remember. I hit a lot of greens. There were two 3-putt bogeys on the par 5's on the front 9, which was especially disappointing because I played the other 7 holes in 1 under par. The back 9 started with 3 bogeys on the first 4 holes, at which time I calculated that I needed 5 pars to match my all-time best.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Augusta Ranch Golf Course

3799 Yards, Par 61, Slope 88


Mr. Science Reports:

This is a very well-done and well-maintained executive course. It winds in and around the streets and houses of the neighborhood, but they're not ever in any danger. Mrs. Science took advantage of the backup at the 3rd tee to visit three garage sales, but we still finished in 3-1/2 hours. The holes are wide, and the difficulty is the contours on and around the greens, which were not lightening fast, but could give you some trouble. I must admit some bias, because of my score.

The front nine was unremarkable, but I started the back with 3 pars and then a 3-putt bogey on 13. On 14, a 190-yard par 3, I hit my 4-wood just past the flag, and off the green, but only about 20 feet from the pin, and chipped in for birdie. On 15, a par 4, I sank a 25-footer for birdie. On 16, after a bad chip shot I putted in from the fairway for par. I was still -1 for the back 9 on the 18th tee. I won't recount all the ugly details, which involve a cart path, a tree, a maintenance building, a fence, and a free drop. The denouement was a 1-putt bogey for even par 31 on the back. 10 putts in all on the back 9.

Mrs. Science likes this one better than Mountain Shadows, because it isn't so narrow. I give it a 1 among the executive courses, it has as much interesting design and staff TLC as you can ask for in a full-size course, and the price is certainly right. It was a very enjoyable Masters Saturday morning, and the $3.50 hot dog cooked outside on the grill after the round was excellent as well.

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