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Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Desert Canyon

6415 Yds, Par 71, Slope 123, by John Allen


They Say: "Desert Canyon Golf Club - a truly unique golf experience. Desert Canyon features a challenging yet playable golf course. The course winds it way through wonderful desert terrain up and down the natural arroyos and canyons that occur in the Sonoran Desert. You'll find tremendous variety in the layout as well : Five holes are doglegs to the to the right, four holes are "left benders". Two par threes are blind uphill approach shots while another, the seventh , the signature hole, is a dramatic downhiller skirted by bunkers. Players will not want to miss our tribute to the great Scottish courses."

The Great P.G.Wodehouse observed in the forward to one of his golf story collections that Critics should have to publish their handicaps so that the readers could judge for themselves the validity of their critiques . . . so, in that spirit, I will say up front that I have no right to critique this course, neither to praise nor to damn, I had a 56-54=110, with one par and 8 lost balls . . .8^0. . . Mr Science had 47-42=89, and grumbled the whole morning about the greens, the patchy areas in the fairway, and his own errancy: 3 lost balls on the front 9.

The course isn't THAT hard, shouldn't have been for either of us -- we think we would play better on a second round, adjusting to the greens better, in addition to knowing the course better, having actual knowledge of the blind and semi-blind tee-shots.

This course designer has cleverly insinuated doubt into the mind of the golfer on many of the holes with large trees leaning into the narrow fairways, disguising the landing areas, severe elevation changes that confuse the perspective, insidious dog-legs, and elevated greens. Even on the "easy" holes, that seem wide open from the tee, there are cunning impediments to par, such as very large false fronts on elevated greens -- plus the sudden release from claustrophobia breeds overswings.

I don't think there's a bad hole on the course, nor one that is actually unfair, but those greens were so grainy, even short putts were a mystery to us. When Mr Science made a sandy par on the par 3 #17 he pumped his fist like Tiger in an uncharacteristic display of emotion. My sandy par putt curled around the hole like a meteor bending around the sun, just like on a dozen other holes.

On several holes, #9 & #10 in particular we were perplexed about what club to hit, to the degree it affected our shot quality (that doubt, even only in the subconcious, is very detrimental). On #13 I over-hooked my first drive OB, then pushed my 3rd shot OB on the right, thru the dog-leg. So: trouble everywhere.

Somewhere we read that Desert Canyon was voted "Best Public Course in Fountain Hills". Not knowing any better one might think that was a rather modest claim, but knowledge of Eagle Mountain, Sun Ridge, and We-Ko-Pa leads us rather to think not . . . "Musta been the Desert Canyon Employees Association voting on that one," said Mr Science.

Now Mr Science's main problem was putting, I see from his scorecard, that looks like something from A Beautiful Mind from all the stats he's scratched on there, but the ugliest thing is the 35 putts, half-again over his average, I'd say.

My problem, OTOH, was a breakdown in training . . . I broke one of Satchel Paige's Rules for a Long Life: "Don't eat fried foods that angry up the blood." The Steakhouse attached to the Pro Shop looked alright, but they served me the single worst breakfast sandwich I have eaten in the valley, a soggy, greasy, micro-nuked ham & egg croissant, and, AND a candidate for the worst coffee (but I sometimes pass on the coffee at some low-end courses, so I can't say for sure). It wasn't fried, but I shouldna et it, definitely put me off my game. No way would I let those clowns burn a steak for me.

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