Wednesday, June 28, 2006
or IS it?
Mastering the golf swing is by no means a simple task. However, the frustration experienced by many weekend hackers stems from the lack of knowledge as to the science of golf as it does the application of precise mechanics . . . Read More
Mr Science plays hooky without me -- his wife instead -- at Sanctuary.
"I shot 76 today. One triple bogey (on 8. 3-wood left, just over the cart path in the desert. Bladed lob wedge over the green into the lake. Easy chip and 2-putt.)
Three birdies: 8 feet on 1, 10 feet on 5, 8 feet on 11. Ms Science birdied 5, too.
Missed Birdie putts: 10 feet on 3, 32 feet on 4, 32 feet on 10, 22 feet on 12, 10 feet on 14, 8 feet on 18.
Missed Par putts: 8 feet on 6, 23 feet on 7, 12 feet on 16, 10 feet on 17.
Couldaben a 67. The greens were a little bumpy, the Bermuda's not quite grown in yet.
Ms. Science almost made par on 8. Tee shot in the water, 6-wood (from the tee) 4 feet dead behind the hole, made the putt for virtual birdie."
Friday, June 23, 2006
7545 Yds, Par 72, Slope 130, by Ralph Plummer
They Say: "Horace Stoneham's San Francisco Giants Spring Training Complex also included the vision of building a championship Arizona golf course that would be a classic masterpiece. He commissioned renowned golf course architect, Ralph Plummer to complete this integral piece of the facility.
Plummer is known for the attractiveness of his layouts and for his remarkable ability to shape greens and bunkers by the eye. His portfolio includes Shady Oaks Country Club, home of famed golfer Ben Hogan, The Colonial Country Club in Forth Worth, Texas, and Tryall Golf Club in Jamaica.
This par 72 traditional course layout features lush fairways, over 1500 mature trees, well-manicured greens, and three strategically positioned lakes. The desert-framed golf course is the longest in Arizona at 7,545 yards and is adjustable to 5,200 to make it both challenging and fun for all skill levels. In fact, the course is one of the few that overseeds fairways, tees, greens, rough, and public areas that total over 188 acres."
HEY! Wait a minute! This isn't a bit of resume polishing is it? Colonial was done by Bredemus! Maybe Plummer did a re-fit?
First impressions of the Franciscan Grande Resort may be a little disappointing to eyes trained to the overwhelming opulence of The Phoenician or The Kierland: flat, flat, flat, horizonless terrain interrupted only by the solitary tower that looks so odd by itself . . . "There should be like 4 or 5 more of them," I said.
"Yeah, then it would look like one of the Bronx housing projects!" said Mr Science.
"Well, I had in mind something like Miami or Myrtle Beach -- most projects don't have penthouses or even balconies like these," I said . . . 8^D . . .
But the course is not entirely flat -- I would say I was still a little disappointed to find the reality didn't match their own purple prose, but then, it rarely does, does it? Still, there were several interesting holes, and we enjoyed ourselves, once we settled into the "relaxed" pace of an out-of-town resort:
#1 - the first hole is also the #1 handicap hole, a long par 4 -- no sense mucking around! A huge trap on the right dares you to hit over it (not bloody likely) or skulk around left of it, which brings several trees into play. Mr Science scalpeled a fade between the trees and the trap, but I hit a double-cross out into the trees. But I rescued the situation with a miracle 1 iron that clipped only one leaf and wound up short left on the fringe. Mr Science couldn't believe it , got out of the cart to look for the gap I found, said "I still can't see it!", then chunked his 7iron he was so mystified and wound up with a bogey. I had an easy up-and-down for par.
#2 - is an excruciatingly long par 5 -- not particularly difficult, tho'.
#3 - is an entertaining little downhill par 3.
#4 - is a moderate length par 4, but the tee shot is all up hill & blind. The green is a skinny bean shape wrapped around a pot bunker, with ankle deep bermuda rough all around the back and side of it, I came to find out. We both made double-bogey, perplexed by the uncertainty of our shots. A good hole, but we figgered it'd be easier a second time.
#5 - is a great par 5. We couldn't tell where to hit, sortuva double dogleg that goes downhill for the 2nd shot then back uphill to the green. I had to hit another miracle half-1iron off the desert border sliced back into the middle of the fairway. Mr Science hit an even better knock-down 3iron hook out of the long rough on the right into the middle, just inside my ball. We both got in for pars, even after indifferent 3rd shots that were nowhere near the hole.
That was the end of the interesting holes, tho' . . . there were some other good holes, just not that interesting or unique.
The long-and-the-short of it was that I was 1 over after 6 holes, but it didn't last. I wound up with a 42-47=89, with a birdie and 5 pars. Mr Science had 43-41=84 with 8 pars . . . he started off very slow where I started very hot, but he found his groove while my game deteriorated -- he had 5 pars in a row to start the back 9.
#12 isn't a bad hole at all, tho' it's sorta flat. The fairway's almost closed off by a bunker and a couple of trees, and there's that doubt, again . . . "what am I supposed to do here?" It flummoxes me when I don't know what to do . . . so, another double bogey.
#18 is the #2 handicap hole, but we both parred it easily, by playing safe to the fat side of the green away from the sand trap guarding the front and back of the green, and making a two-putt for me, and a handy up-and-down for Mr Science. That's a hard hole, with trees guarding the fairway, especially on the right, but the obstacles can be seen.
Boring holes and unexplored blind shots don't faze Mr Science, but I have the attention span of a cocker spaniel and the tendency to botch holes with hidden challenges unless my game is well-practiced (more than twice a week).
I attributed my fast start to my regular warm-up: breakfast, this time at the buffet at the Resort Restaurant, which left me comfortably stuffed, which prevents me from getting "too quick". I don't know, tho', whether to say that the buffet is over-priced or under-stocked. I just mean the value for dollar was acceptable, but not extraordinary.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
They Say: "Sundance Golf Club is an 18-hole golf facility located in the West Valley. Panoramic views of the White Tank Mountains to the north and the Estrella Mountains to the south provide guests with a great visual golfing experience. With four sets of tee boxes varying in distance from 5300-7000 yards, Sundance Golf Club offers an excellent test for players of all abilities. This Greg Nash designed golf course uniquely blends Sonoran Desert washes and arroyos with lush green conditions. Generous landing areas and sloping greens differentiate Sundance Golf Club from today’s other golf courses."
For some reason, possibly the extreme COD of the situation (Crack-of-Dawn) and the interminable drive out past Buckeye to Sundance, I was crankily determined not to like the course . . . it was obviously not one of the top-dollar courses, and the detritus of house construction was everywhere around the course -- it had that rawboned look of the recently developed . . . but in the end, in the 19th hole as we waited while a covey of cheerleaders washed my car as part of their fundraiser, I had to agree with Mr Science it was praiseworthy. The staff was most accommodating and friendly at every opportunity, so remaining peevish for petty reasons was not possible. This was even tho Mr Science played not his best. He complained, but with a speculatively pensive look in his eye, as if he seemed certain that on a return bout, his local knowledge would lower those strokes. He had a 39-46=85, with 8 pars; I had a 45-42=87, also with 8 pars. The differences being on the blow-out holes we each had: for me, # 2 and for Mr Science # 14.
#2 is the first of 5 split fairways, with the trash that obscures the other side only 200 yds from the tee -- seemingly too close to lay up back from, but that's what Mr Science did successfully. My drive must have run down a rabbit hole in the desert left of the fairway -- I turned over all the boxes and tar-paper laying down in the acequia without finding my ball. It's a good hole, I just had too much uncertainty from the tee-box.
#4 is a long par 5 that curves to the right around the neighborhood. It sure seems to play longer than the posted difference.
#5 seems like an easy hole and did to me, up until my approach shot bounced off the left side of the green down into the trash. . . the fairway split trash obscures the green and I didn't realize that all the room was over on the right -- and it was a left pin.
#7 is another apparently easy hole, with a moderate water-carry from the tee, and a large, depressed desert area guarding the inside of the dogleg to the tiny green. Unlike many of the other holes, tho', this fairway is very skinny, & pinched by bunkers on the left side, too.
#9 is an uphill par 5, so the trash breaking the fairway really does obscure the second shot. There's nothing really to worry about, but a mishit could really hurt you.
#11 is a short 'drivable' par 4, but the fairway is squeezed tightly between two brushy intrusions of desert just over 200 yds from the tee.
#12 looks forbidding from the cart, but up on the tee you can actually get a glimpse of the fairway, but only just. It's an act of faith to hit it over there on the left. It was a little funny there. We both hit horrible approaches after fine drives, then miraculous chips that left us each with kick-in pars.
#15 is another of the broken fairways, with the green partially obscured by the shrubbery. We both laid up with irons -- Mr Science more ably than myself, but I used the Acceleration of Gravity on my 7wood and hit a majestic shot 5 feet from the pin on the elevated green that I could not even see. Missed the birdie putt, to set a personal best for 18 holes for missed birdie putts, which I later extended on 17 & 18. . . 8^( . . .
#17 is the #1 handicap hole, a fearsomely long par 4, but I crushed my drive, then hit a solid 7 iron right at the pin. I was twirling my 7iron like a baton in pleasure as I started back to the cart, but then my ball bounced crazily right off something in front of the green, and I watched in horror as it rolled perpendicular to the pin, then actually away, down to the bottom tier of the green. Far from a birdie opportunity, I now had a lip-out bogey.
Greg Nash is also the author of the rugged Gold Canyon courses and the formidable Superstition Springs. The land is not so spectacular here as in those cases, and it seems as if one can feel him restraining himself out of mercy for the mundane duffer, but this is still an exciting layout, challenging and varied.
Legend At Arrowhead
6969 Yds, Par 72, Slope 131, by Arnold Palmer
They Say: "The Legends At Arrowhead Golf Course in Glendale is a professionally designed golf course (Arnold Palmer, anyone?) that is traditional in style and just plain fun to play. It can be a challenging game, at over 7000 yards, especially when the day is windy or when the water hazards come into play. The Legends At Arrowhead Golf Arizona is set within six lakes and numerous palm trees. The scenery alone of the Legends Arrowhead Golf is worth a look, but the real attraction is the course itself."
I picked Mr Science up for the commute to the golf course at 4:50 am. I'm not the most sterling early-morning-conversationalist under the best of circumstances, but even Mr Science, an Early Bird Late Owl if there ever was one -- sort of in the Thomas A. Edison mold, if you see what I mean -- was a little incommunicado.
But, for some reason I don't recall, I asked him, "Mr Science: I know the world flies thru space at 66,000 miles an hour, but how fast does it spin around?"
He started from his passenger seat as if I'd made a u-turn on the 101. "Well . . . the Earth is 27000 miles in cirumference and there's 24 hours in a day, so say, something over 1000 MPH -- that's why commercial airliners can never quite keep up . . ."
"That's what causes jet lag, idn't?"
"Well . . . I don't know about that!"
I was a bit agitato, now, with strange ideas flashing thru my head: "So if you have a clubhead speed of 100 MPH -- just to use a round number -- how fast are your hands moving?"
"Well . . . actually your hands would actually come to a full stop at the release point. In fact, I read once where they measured Bobby Jones hands and they found that The Perfect Swing moved at the Acceleration of Gravity . . . "
"You mean '32 feet per sec per sec'? The Speed of Gravity?"
"Yes, the Acceleration of Gravity. No faster or Slower. That's what gave his swing that effortless quality."
Now I was fully alert, as if on a caffeine buzz. "I'm going to use this," I declared. "I grok it! I am going to tap into the cosmos" -- Mr Science raised his hand to object -- "to the planetary forces!"
So I was pumped, despite the dawn hour of our tee-off, but we both had to do without our warmups: neither the cafe nor the driving range was open yet, so we putted till we were called. We sort of remembered the front 9, from a distressing round we almost had here before -- after the 5 hour summer afternoon front 9, we had gotten a "slo-play" check, but it had expired. Still we had returned -- the bargain price was right. That round had poisoned our attitude, but in the cool morning, unimpeded by legions of duffers under the impression they are playing the US Open, we scampered around very pleasurably. The front 9 especially seemed very interesting to us -- possibly because we were somewhat familiar -- but the back 9 seemed less challenging, less interesting.
See: that proves my objectivity. I played better on the back 9 than the front (49-45=94), but I liked the front better. Mr Science declared on the 18th Tee: Par 5 for a 79! But his tee shot was not strong. I Gravity Accelerated a majestic hook out into somebody's yard, then skied a drive along the same line to the left rough.
I absolute gravitated my 5 wood down the middle of the fairway, while Mr Science batted his second shot off to the left.
I wound up out in the middle of a bunch of moguls -- unique on this course to this hole -- with 134 yards to the middle of the green from the back side of a particularly knobby knob. I accelerated like Foucaults Pendulum thru a choke down 7 iron and lofted an amazing high shot that sat down in its divot in the middle of green.
Mr Science flubbed his third into a bunker behind the greenside bunker. Nothing would do then but that he would catch it clean over the green and take two pitches to get to the dance floor. I calmly lagged my 30 footer down by the hole and claimed a gimme virtual par. "I got my 7!" I said proudly. Mr Science gave me a look, but then rapped his knee-knocker in for his 7, too.
I figger the whole day is a tie, based on that hole.
The Acceleration of Gravity was my only swing thought, and it worked quite well off the tee, but my iron shots were all Othello balls, Hit Well But Not Wisely, usually a pull -- just toooo strong. I still have high hopes tho: one shouldn't hope to conquer Gravity in one Round, should one?
I must have been still groggy from lack of sleep, I honestly don't remember too much about the course, but then that's often the way with Arnold Palmer courses, isn't it? For what ever reason, he just lacks the inspirational touch given to Jack Nicklaus courses. But there is some elevation change and there are some well-placed bunkers and the greens are very interesting.
So it's a solid 3, but with an asterisk, points out Mr. Science: that one tees off before 6 am.