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Thursday, May 25, 2006


Tonto Verde Peaks

6737 Yds, Par 72, Slope 133, by Graham & Panks


They Say: "Tonto Verde has two challenging 18-hole courses with spectacular views. Renowned golf course architects David Graham and Gary Panks chose to keep the natural contours of the land on our first course. The result is a golf experience in harmony with its setting. Our courses respect both the beauty of the desert and the ability of the golfer. Both courses have been honored with national awards for their scenic charm and playability."

The Peaks course is awesome: creative, challenging, unique. Easily my favorite Panks course -- it must be the catalytic impact of David Graham that makes the difference. Many of the holes seem to have the standard Panks imprimatur, slightly elevated tees & greens, wide, wide fairways, and "subtle" greens, but several, most, have a twist to them -- psychological challenges and McKinzie-ish camoflagellation built-into the course in a way that befuddles a first-timer and charms the golfing recividist.

I played like crap, again, 50-50=100, up until the last few holes. Mr Science had an uneven 37-46=83, with one birdie, but he was beaming all day long, enjoying the superb bent-grass greens, even when he missed putts on the back 9. It got real windy during our back 9 -- we still meet people who claim that Arizona's not windy -- a 3-club wind, at times. On some holes, that are w-i-d-e open, it doesn't really matter, but then, on other holes . . . like on the 300 yd par 4 #13. . . the landing area looks tiny from the tee, especially into a 3-club wind. #14, a par 4, seems even smaller. #15, a 200 yd par 3 into the wind seemed even more miniscule -- except for the giant trap on the left side of the green, much larger than it looks on the card. I liked the eye-shaped bunker on #16, the double dog-leg par 5 # 17 and the easy finishing hole. A great back 9 on a very good course.

I have to double-back now and mention #4, #5, #8, & #9 on the front as very fine, doubt-inspiring holes.

Most people struggle with bad habits and adversity . . . I'm the opposite, I suffer from good habits and prosperity:

so, somehow, this last week (probably in direct result from the assault on my finer sensibilities by the breakfast chef at Desert Canyon) I had been trying to play "defensively", and to "use good technique", such as standing up straighter and using a one-piece-take-away, and tho' I knew about it, I didn't realize it until the middle of the back 9 at Tonto Verde.

On the par 5 #11, I forgot myself, and played correctly (for me) off the tee, from a comical crouch, a strangler's strong grip, and a pick-up-backswing (early wrist cock), resulting in a huge drive down the middle of the fairway, into the desert-cross-hazard. The gasps from Mr Science and the couple we played with rubbed salt into my bleeding wounds. . . "Try not to sound so surprised," I complained, "When you tell me 'good shot'!" 8~D But I still didn't know what I had done, so I had to hack around 4 or 5 more holes before I remembered my "proper" technique.

On the par 4 #16, both Mr Science & I had 300 yd drives (down wind), but his pitch shot caught the greenside lip of the bunker, twice, and I bladed my half-wedge over the green. Bogeys.

on the par 5 #17, I ripped a Driver/3wood down 40 yds short of the green, but my 1/3wedge shot was mysteriously solid, and rolled off the back of the green. Still a par.

on the short par 4 #18 I managed to hit the right half-wedge. Par.

All of this success by avoiding 'good technique'. . .8~D . . .

There are large practice areas for driving, pitching, & putting -- but more than that: there is an 18 hole putting green course, that includes sand traps and water hazards. 16 of those holes would be good holes for the "betcha-can't-hole-out-in-2". It's not a Putt-Putt course, with a windmill, but rather a Par-54, exaggerated Real golf experience. Fun. Worth the drive out to the most extreme North East Corner of Phoenix. There may be a pitch-and-putt course, too, over by the Ranch course . . . we saw the flags on our way out.

Definitely a 2. Has all the accoutrement' of any first class course, that Mr Science looks for, and I think it could be considered for The Best Course in the Valley -- I don't happen to agree, but I wouldn't call you crazy for saying so, if you see what I mean. . . .

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