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Monday, May 08, 2006



(White/Gold) 6804 Yds, Par 71, Slope @130, by Ted Robinson


They say: "Lush, rolling fairways abundantly sprinkled with mature trees, colorful flower beds, water falls and lakes come into play on nearly every hole.

This superb 27-hole championship course has become one of -if not the -finest upscale daily fee facilities in the country."

One has to mention the stirling work Ted Robinson has done in the past: 117 entries on GolfWeb in his name, including these:
Hyatt Bear Creek - East Course TX -- AWESOME! Big Oak Trees In the Fairway -- -HILLY HILLY Terrain
Hyatt Bear Creek - West Course TX -- AWESOME! Same
Sahalee Country Club - East Course WA -- AWE- #55 – SOME! Site of the 1999 PGA (I think) BIG PINE TREES in the middle of the Fairway
Indian Wells Country Club - North Cove Course CA -- PGA Tour Event (Bob Hope or Pebble Beach?)
Inn Of The Mountain Gods NM – heard of it, haven’t played it.

The thing about these is that they all have big trees in the fairways and they are all hilly -- it will be interesting to see what TR did with a semi-flat arizona desert site. The pictures look nice.

We played in a GolfNow Tournament, the "Blind Bogey" Tournament -- we'd tho't it was a 2 man scramble, and were excited, figgerin' if Mr. Science played to his new standard, and I could manage a fair game myself, we might could get low enough to win, maybe that deflated us a little bit when we went at it . . . We started off on Gold # 8, a short Par 3. Mr. Science totally mis-hit his first shot off into the water. From where he dropped looked like a harder shot than the tee-shot: the pin was on a tongue of green sticking back out into the water. He got a 5. Parred #9 in a typical Mr. Science way, with an up-and-down he makes look easy. Then double-bogeyed White # 1 when his approach wound up in a very wet trap . . . how wet? when I was cleaning my line there was a clod of mud in my way from his attempted explosion shot that turned out to be a glop when I tried to pick it up. Yeeeech . . . His ball didn't even move. He birdied the Par 5 White # 2 but never caught fire to play the way he has the last couple months: 1 Birdie, 5 Pars, 43-46=89, 15 strokes higher than last Sunday. Me too: 49-49=98, with 4 pars.

I'd started out a house-a-fire, tho' . . . almost birdied the par 3; almost birdied the next par 4; almost birdied the next par 4 -- then -- then -- then missed the tap-in par . . . I'd been hitting the ball great, solid, without feeling comfortable about it, but after that missed putt . . . I skulled a my second shot on the next par 5 into the water from an uneven lie in the rough. On the next par 3 White # 3 hooked a 7 iron into the water -- had toooo long to look at it and think about it before I hit, from waiting on 2 other foursomes to play out.

So counselled Calmness to myself, and the restrained game until I got my feet back under me, dictating a 3 wood on the short #4 Par 4, where water surrounds the landing area on 3 sides, but still reeling from the effects of that missed putt, I hooked my 3 wood to a bunker between the water on the left and the fairway. . . not IN it, where I would have had a shot, but next to it, where I had to stand on shifting sand two feet below the ball and use a base ball swing -- Hey! That IS my game. I was so optimistic when I hit the ball I didn't care that I also fell flat on my kiester, but oddly enough, I didn't control the pull hook likely from such a stance and the ball bounced into the small pool next to the green. Double Bogey.

Reckless with irritation I nonchalantly scissored a good drive just short of the trap on the left of White #5. In muddy grass one percent of humidity short of casual water I hit a heavy 4 iron just short of the green -- a very Mr. Science leave -- and got my up-and-down par.

On #6, a long par 4, my weak drive left me still 190 yds short and my 5 wood betrayed me for the first time that day. Double Bogey with a lip out.

on #7, I hit a half-6iron that ballooned in the wind and wound up short right, in the trap. Mr. Science hit his onto the front of the green then showed me his 5iron. He got a par; me, a bogey, even after a good sandshot. "These greens are nice if they're not wet" I said, "nice heavy crushed granite, or something."

#8 is one of the few holes with no water. . . disoriented, Mr. Science & I both took bogies.

#9 is a tough risk/reward propostion. From my position on the left side rough, I had 195 yds, but I said, "sometimes you just have to choose whether you are a Man or a Mouse" and pulled the 5 wood again. Too much performance anxiety, tho': smother hooked it into the water. Bad approach, triple bogey. I said, "A mouse wouldn't have made worse than double bogey." Mr. Science said, "Well, this mouse almost made a 15-footer for par."

Back over to Gold #1, then, feeling pretty shakey . . . blocked a line drive over to the right side of the fairway, the wrong side of the fairway, pulled my 7iron left into the bunker trying to fade it in. Good sand shot, missed the 8 footer for par.

On Gold #2 par 5. Hit a giant pull slice to the right side of the fairway. Hit a 5 iron second, to be strategic (the Easiest Shot In Golf: the 5 iron second shot on a Par 5). It ballooned on me, and only went 140, so I still had 130 to the pin. Blocked the 8 iron way right of the green, fumbled around the traps and mounds for a double bogey.

Feeling REALLY shakey then, on #3, foozled my drive, pull-hooked another 5wood, fumble around, burn another edge for a double bogey.

#4 is of a type here at Ocotillo, maybe the most so: the driver is taken out of your hands, the uncertainty is placed there in its stead. In some ways the fairway looks plenty wide enough, but there is all that water, and right-side OB crowding the fairway. I managed to draw my 3wood out to the middle of the fairway, but way back, 175 yds from the green. Uphill, against a tiny wind, over water, backed by mounds and traps, a rather intimidating shot, but miraculously my 7wood did not betray me and I wound up on the back fringe. Made another good lag put, and a tap-in par.

#5 Long par 3, 190 yds. After a little pep talk with myself about the similarity between the 7 & 5 woods I confidently, hooked two balls into the water. Boiling, I grabbed my 1iron out of the bag and hit it instead, a beautiful high fade half-1iron, right over the pin, into the mounds behind the green. If I'd hit that shot first I would have been ecstatic. Sweet Mystery of Golf. Snowman.

#6 Par 5, I'm sure is a top hole. I just don't remember anything, I was so mad. . . Probably foozled my drive.

#7 Suddenly actually hit a good drive . . . I mean one where I felt right, with that late-hit sensation that gives me solid hits. Mr. Science commented on his drive, too, that was 15 - 20 yds past mine . . . a monster hit for him, for sure. My 7iron came off thin but usable I tho't, it kicked off the hump guarding the left side of the green correctly, but the ball just kept going straight right, away from the back pin. I felt outraged. When We got up there, I could see that it had been rejected by the tier-slope that bi-sects the green. 3 putt bogey. Perfect finish.

A great course, With 27 holes, you could play this course regular and never be bored. But like on #9, 433 from the Blue tees where we played, all water carry on the second shot, how often is a duffer going to make it in 2? Not Often.

This course, typified by Gold#4, frequently fools the eye with water hazards, attractive mounding, huge amoeba traps, and false fronts on the greens. I can't judge the par 5s, I had double bogeys on all of them -- I can't say I played them, really. It's not target golf, per se, but accuracy is real valuable here on every shot, especially the approaches.

The par 3s are pretty artistic and varied, from the short Gold #8, with its steep green and waterside hazard to the long Gold #5, there is a nice variety, except for the water, the water, the omnipresent water! . . . 8^0 . . .

White #4, #5, #6, #8 -
Gold #1, #4, #7, & #9 are Par 4s where the threat is on the first shot. If the golfer can ignore the doubts gnawing away at his confidence, the holes are not really so long or hard, but the effort wears on a boy, the concentration wanes, the score goes up . . .
White #1 & #9 (remember what I said about #9!) -
Gold #3 are the holes where that lost concentration will cost you strokes, when the first shot actually seems easy, but the approach to the green seems impossible.

A great course. Love to play it with my A-game. It scares me to think I DID have my A-game.

Oh, yeah:
I had an excellent breakfast burrito in the Cafe to warmup for the round while Mr. Science hit balls. I looked askance when they served it, but it was great: a ham & egg cheese burito in a spinach tortilla wrap with chipotle salsa. Best coffee I ever had at a golf course, too.

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