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Saturday, August 12, 2006


Ken McDonald

6743 Yds, Par 72, slope 125, by Jack Snyder


They Say: "Ken McDonald is one of the most active and reasonably priced 18hole par 72 championship golf courses in the metropolitan Phoenix area with a full service restaurant and bar. Location . . . The golf course was built in 1974 and designed by the famous local architect Jack Snyder. Services include professional golf instruction, club fitting, club repairs and special event planning."

It says something that this course is not as interesting as Cave Creek, also designed by Jack Snyder . . . whether this is a reflection on the evolving talents of the architect as he matured, or, that Cave Creek built on a dump still makes a better layout than Ken McDonald, I can't say.

We rated it a solid 3, in relatively good shape and certainly not entirely unimaginative, but the only holes that stuck in my mind were the last two:

#17 downhill par 3, not quite 200 yds, with water looming on the right. I missed my birdie from below the hole about 8 ft, and Mr Science missed his from 3 . . . by that time we were so ground down by the bristly, slow greens we hardly even grimaced.

#18 is a rather amazing hole, a moderately lengthed par 4 dogleg right around a lake. The tee shot is one of those that preys on the mind. On this, our first time on it, we had no idea how far a drive should go, and how much room there was in the landing area between the water on the right and the trash on the left. Mr Science had a shot sort of in the fairway, but on the slope down to the water that kept him from hitting a solid 2nd shot. He was unable to get up and down from the fairway in front of the green, but it was close. I pulled my drive left to the outside of the dogleg in the patchy rough -- almost in trouble, but with a clear, long look at the green. I chunked my 5 iron in a way that I tho't was impossible, and it trickled just over the sand trap in the corner of the dogleg, down a steep, bare slope almost to the reedy creek. I hit an amazing choke down half-a-7iron out of the woods onto the green for a 2-putt bogey.

I had a 46-43=89, which was almost acceptable -- except that I'd started the back 9 with 3 straight pars, and so flush with my success I was looking forward to the par 5 #13 -- but the ol' jamais vu hit me in the middle of my backswing -- it felt like I was holding the wrong end of the club -- and I had to stop in the middle like Tiger when the photogs get crazy.

"Ah, well!" Mr Science felt called upon to interject into this "teaching situation" with young Aaron with whom we shared our round, "You see: in his crouch, Cactus can't get the club upright like this," as he demonstrated his own perfect form. I couldn't help but listen at first, but then I plugged my ears and chanted, "LALALALALALALALALA" till I saw him stop talking. So naturally, nothing would do but that I hack my way down the fairway like I was cutting weeds with a yoyo, finishing with a snowman. But it was just that one hole where I fell apart. Bogies the rest of the way in, except for #17, of course.

I hadn't realized then that Mr Science was on an historic roll of his own at that point: he birdied 10, 12, 13, & 14, which was the best 5 holes he'd ever had and the best start to a 9 he'd ever had. If he'd only made that putt on #17, that would have made the most birdies in a round he'd ever had. Even so, he carded a 42-35=77 -- pretty good for 6700 yds and a slope of 125!

This was the first time I'd played in 2 weeks, so breaking 90 is all I could ask for . . . it must have been the prize winning brekky I scarffed before the round in my normal training regimen. This egg sandwich was so lightly toasted, the egg was so perfectly fried, and the monterey jack cheese lent a unique spicy deliciosity that this sandwich seriously challenges for the Best in the Valley.

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