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Wednesday, August 30, 2006


TPC Desert

6423 yds, Par 70, Slope 119, by Weiskopf and Morrish


They Say: "The Desert Course has been distinguished as the Valley's "Diamond in the Rough." This uniquely different golfing venue offers impressive course conditions, magnificent views, forgiving fairways and a high standard of maintenance -- all at a great value. The Desert Course also offers golfers the opportunity to walk or ride all year.
As a compliment to the city of Scottsdale, the Desert Course was designed by Tom Weiskopf in 1996 to provide local residents with a great course to play at preferred rates all year. Like its big sister, the Stadium Course, the Desert Course is also recognized among the elite golf clubs of the world by the Audubon Sanctuary Program. That is part of our No. 1 ranking in Arizona for our commitment to preserving the natural environment and conservation."

This course is easier than the TPC Stadium Course, but it's no pushover, from the back tees. We played in a scramble there, from the 2nd tees and it seemed quite tame -- no pin was inaccessible, no carry was too far, no angle seemed impossible, but from the back tees, all of a sudden those sucker pins looked tiny, at least one carry WAS too far for me, anyway, and the angles looked a little sharper.

The thing about this course that makes it really deceiving, even from the shorter tees, is the optical deception, the trompe le turf, caused by the huge greens here . . . on many holes, you can hit what looks to be a good shot, then find it's 50 or 60 feet away, especially on #2 & #3.

By and large, this course is flatter and wider and shorter than the Stadium, but that's not to say that it is flat, wide-open, and short, as absolutes.

#5, par 4, totally befuddled me: I hit 2 balls in the water (usually a big dry hole), balls that ordinarily ought to have been good enough to get over most forced-carries in AZ, but too much hook-spin. Then I pulled another 5 wood approach to the green into the trees on the left, in the same gulch as the water, which the hole doglegs left around to a very elevated green. A tough, memorable hole.

#15, par 4, is the only other hole that comes readily to recollection, a mid-length downhill hole with another very elevated on a late dogleg left -- that is, the last leg is short -- lots of surprises in the forms of odd bounces in the fairway and rough and a 3tier green.

I had been in my mid-round swoon again until #15, which must be my capitulation point, which is why I suddenly start swinging well again, I dunno. I hit a high soft-frisbee of an approach out of the swaled rough on the left inside of the dogleg right over the pin, easy two-putt par.

I had a sandy par on the par 3 #16.
I had a tap-in-bogey on the l-o-n-g par 4 #17, the #1 handicap hole.

On #18, a mid-length straightaway par 4 with water all down the left, both Mr Science & I hit poor pulled drives, we were both 190 yds out still, but he was in the rough. I hit a 5 wood right of the green hoping it would draw into the pin and avoid the water; it stayed right, but the slope of the land around the green coaxed it down into the middle of the green. Mr Science pureed his magic 3 iron over the green into a shallow swale -- still a good shot, two good shots. He's been on fire lately so I wasn't surprised when his gutsy chip perfectly gauged the slope and wound up 3 feet below the hole, 5 feet from the water, from 85 feet away. My knees were shaking as I leaned over my 25 ft putt straight down the fall line, when all I could see was the glare from the water behind the hole. Sure 'nuff, I left it 10 ft short. . . I couldn't believe it would stop like that on that incline. But I did make the par putt.

That gave me a positive finish to a very mediocre 47-48=95. Mr Science "struggled" to a 38-42=80, which must 've felt like 100 after the round he had at Whirlwind Cattail. Mrs Science, The Golfing Queen finished 51-61=112 -- I will say it WAS uncomfortably hot the back 9, swelterin'. Maybe that's why all our back9 scores were higher.

I don't know about their regular fare, but the breakfast sandwich popped out of a plastic shrink wrap and microwaved was all but inedible -- but I did eat it. The english muffin was crumby and soggy, the bacon was totally tasteless, the cheese some sort of homogenized american blandishment, and the egg, stirile, tasteless as thin foamy packing sheets. Not Even Louisiana Hot Sauce could save it.

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