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Friday, July 28, 2006


The Boulders

6873 Yds, Par 72, Slope 139, by Jay Moorish

Golfweb: North & South

They say:
The North course is the older of the two and features bent grass with spectacular views of Black Mountain as the course meanders through the Boulders community. Both courses are built right into the desert foothills and offer breathtaking panoramas - including stunning boulder formations, striking Sonoran
Desert sunsets and natural desert terrain. Keep your eyes open because desert wildlife is often visible during play. Every day, golfers are surprised to see a bobcat, rabbits, coyotes or a javelina while hunting for a wayward shot. In short your experience should be a scenic and natural wonder.

The South course provides its players with much of the same experience they would find on the North course. The scenic views and desert beauty continue - with even more locations for the perfect photographic moment. While the North course is the original offering from the resort, many people believe that the South course is the most scenic. In fact it has holes that go right up into the boulder formations. During your round you will encounter the signature "Boulder Pile" and also "Rosie's Rock", two of the resort's most recognizable rock formations.

We played a summertime combination, Front South / Back North, and started off on the Back North -- very confusing. The Boulders is one of, if not The Top Resort in the Valley. Their Spa is Famous and the Golf Courses are Awesome. We played here again at the wish of Mrs Science, who henceforth wishes to be adressed as Golfing Queen, or The Queen Of Golf:

Golf for Women rates The Boulders South Course as the number one most woman-friendly public course in the U.S. I enjoyed playing there. Next on my list is number 24 Troon North Golf Club Pinnacle Course. After that is number 41 TPC Scottsdale Desert Course. Those are the three in Arizona and fortunately they are in or near Scottsdale.

I'm not sure that it is good form to allow people to dictate their own monikers, but then Mrs Science is rather Regal, so Queen of Golf, it is. If Howard Stern can declare himself King of All Media, why not?

I shot a 52-46=98, with one birdie, two pars, 7 violent lip-outs, and 4 burned edges. I'm not complaining about the greens, at all, but it was a trying day. I know I'm supposed to be positive about a lip-out, but 7 of them was beyond my ken. After one particularly viscious lip-out Mr Science said, "You hit it too hard to go in", by way of consoling me.

I said, "Aren't you supposed to putt it hard enough to go by the hole by a foot?"

"Well, yeah," he conceded, "but then, on an 8-footer, you're supposed to hit it right at the hole!"

He, OTOH, had his usual good round, an 86:

I was 6 over par in the first 2 holes, and 2 over in the last 8.

My lie in that sand trap behind the 15th green was the worst I've ever had.
[a side-hill fried egg]I have taken an unplayable lie in a trap before, but this time it was so bad there was no place I could have dropped in the trap that would have been better. Any drop would have rolled (fallen!) closer to the hole, and the placement would have been on the same steep downslope. I don't think I could have gotten it out even if it wasn't buried.

We saw a snake on the 8th tee. Shoulda brought my camera. I think it was a Sonoran Gopher Snake.

There's not a bad hole among the 36 at the Boulders, and both courses are as strong as the coffee at a Marine Mess, but in particular there were some favorites.

On the North Back 9, I had 3 6s to start . . . the holes aren't that difficult, but they are L-o-n-g, and like I said, my putting was just-wrong.

On #13 I'd hit a good drive up the left side, but I fanned my 6iron approach onto the right side of the green (something that would also trouble me all day long) 60 feet away and on the wrong tier. Bogey. Mr Science had his birdie here.

#14 is one of those holes that has the hoo-doo on me: a moderate long par 3 that kinda bends right around a water hazard . . . I haven't hit a solid tee-shot in two rounds there yet, and that includes 3 balls in the water and one in the desert on the left side. Quadra bogey. Mr Science had a lip-out par here.

#15 is a relatively short par 5 that also befuddles me somehow. . . I hit a good drive just short of the big traps on the right, then layed up out of the long grass with a 6iron to the middle of the fairway, but from then on, made a dog's breakfast out of the hole with a chunked 8iron, a bladed chip, and one of my violent lip-outs. Bogey.

#16 is almost like a double-dog-leg par 4, if you can imagine: the dogleg-right fairway bends slightly back to the left, which I find a little disorienting. . . there's also a ravine in front of the 3 tier-green. Tough hole. Bogey.

I finished that nine with too more double bogeys, hitting the ball well, but just-wrong.

I started out the Front South 9 with a bang:

On #1 hit my first solid drive of the day almost thru the dogleg, fanned my 8 iron (again) to pinhigh right of the green, inches away from disaster, then chipped in with my west-texas 7iron putting stroke for a birdie. A very interesting starting hole, design-wise.

On #2 I almost birdied that short par 3 from 35 ft, but not quite.

#3 looks like a manageable par 4, but both Mr Science & I had mid-irons into the green. His 2nd went to the left side of the green, almost like last time, when he was in the desert over there. He kept saying, "Where is my ball?" and I kept saying "Pin High" on the left. But he was looking in the trash short left of the green, because, he said, that was where pin high was from where he hit the ball, but I meant pin-high from the center line. He got his par with a good two putt up two tiers on the green. My 2nd was from a steep upper slope in a fairway mogul, and concious that I had been fanning every shot, I tried to hit my reliable half-5iron, but it wound up in the pit bunker on the right side of the green anyway -- just like the last time -- and it took me two to get out -- just like last time -- double bogey -- just like last time.

#4 is typical of the great holes here, with a wide-ish landing area for the tee-shot, but half-hidden greens at the end of the shrinking fairway that just look tiny while your standing over your shot. There's not the dramatic inclines like you would see at Rancho Manana, but there is enough altitude dynamics to make a difference and precious few flat lies to hit approaches from.
another double bogey lip-out.

#5 is not the signature hole, but it oughtta be. I am so torn between laying up and going-for-broke I still haven't hit a solid shot on that hole at all. It is so beautiful, treacherous, and dramatic it's hard to be too upset, but I'd like to just replay that hole till I get it right. If you lay up short of the trash dividing the fairway, you will have two more very long uphill shots to a green stuck back under The Boulders (the pile of rocks this development is named for) in a sort of protected canyon with an arroyo on the right, bunkers all around. And the green is typical with 2 or 3 tiers that have their own subtle inclinations, so a two-putt is not guaranteed.

#6 is a relatively short hole surrounded by trouble. IF you hit your drive well left of the dogleg, and IF you can land your short-iron on the green, you may well dismiss it as an easy breather after #5. If OTOH you wind up behind the trees and boulders on the right or if you miss the green long and left or short and right, you may be grumbling at how unfairly penal is that hole. Mr Science and I both had short irons to the hole, but still wound up on the back of the green. "I think those distances are wrong!" I told Mr Science, "I hit my totally reliable half-9iron there, and what are the chances that both of us would overclub?" He just gave me a pitying look and a shake of his head. Last time we were here, Mr Science had played well left on his drive, then hit a full 9iron to the back of the green, over the big bunker, stiff. After he made his putt, he chortled, "Who cares about sucker pins!"

#7 is a bit of so-what, but only if you DO hit the green on this mid-size par 3.

#8 is another deceptively open hole, with a wide landing area mogulled with humps and hollows so that there is no flat lie from which to approach funny-shaped, awkwardly placed, multi-tiered green surrounded by swales and bunkers and fronted by a dry wash.

#9 is another deceptively closed off hole, with huge deep fairway bunkers pinching the landing area. Only the familiarity of several rounds would ever get me on that green in two, but I'm not claiming I would do it regularly, even then.

As I say, the amenities and the staff are non-pareil there. I stopped into the cafe for my normal warmup training, while Mr & Mrs Science -- er, Mr Science and the Queen of Golf -- putted and chipped . . .the course had dug up their large practice range for remodelling, so only the very large chipping and putting practice areas were open. I found the menu there a little limited and spa-pricey, but my eggs & fruit & toast & coffee were very special -- the bacon was weird, but good, not maple cured, but with some other flavoring that threw me for a loop. I was able to sip coffee and liesurely read the NYTimes with my brekky, and chat desultorily with the counter girl till my tee-time.

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