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Friday, June 23, 2006


Francisco Grande

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.

Oh, yeah:
#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.

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