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 room, 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.