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Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Whirlwind Cattail

7218 Yds, Par 72, Slope 132, by Gary Panks

A typical Gary Panks, yet finer:

the fairways are just as lush and wide, yet there is just an extra dimension of slopes and moguls and swales and uneven lies;

the greens are "Panksian" in their subtle, unseen, but definite breaks - never actually unfair, but very challenging, while still rolling true and smooth;

the tees and greens are elevated just that much more, to make the subtle difference that separates the great courses from the merely good.

I told Mr Science after 4 holes, "this course is miles better than the Tonto Verde Ranch", but he didn't believe me, he thought it had interesting holes . . . I can't remember a single one, and I bet he can't either.

For sure, he'll remember the par 5 # 12 at the Cattail, tho'. After our first two shots, he was laying in the rough on the right 35 yards behind me, in the fairway, but he managed to hole out his 6iron, while my wind-blown 8iron rolled over the green into the rough, from where I failed to get up and down: he gets a 3 and I get a 6. Phewey. We were virtually even on the front 9, but he was 12 shots better on the back 9. He had 44-35=79, with 11 pars and The Eagle, while I stumbled in with a 45-47=92, with 4 pars and a birdie on the short par 5 #17.

I had a good start and a good finish, but somehow the middle of the round is killing me lately, with double, triple, and quadruple bogeys everywhere.

I especially liked:

#2, par 5 - I can't imagine many people can go for this green in 2, but if they could, the mounds and traps guarding the green would give them second tho'ts; but laying up is a trial, too, since there is a mound of bunkers on the left that hide the green AND the lay-up area, with the inclination to push the ball off that hump into trouble off the right side.

#5, par 4 - with the water cum giant sand bunker guarding the whole inside of the dogleg left, even tho' it is a short hole, again, going for it in one needs a second tho't, and the approach the the moundy green is still tough.

#7, par 5 - has perfectly proportioned shot values, because of the heavy bunkering and mounding around the green and the broken fairway.

#12, par 5 -- where Mr Science got his Eagle -- I think has a very tough green for a par 5, sort of rounded up into a turtle's back, at least on the left side where our pin was. Even tho' the fairway is very wide, there are lots of bunkers guarding the landing areas, and mounds, swales, a trap and some water guarding the green.

#14, par 4 - is dangerously close to being target golf: a rare double-dog-leg par 4 with a bunker complex guarding the inside- right of the first and water bordering the left of the 2nd, then, the green hanging out into the water.

#17, par 5 - where I got my birdie -- looks impossibly long on the first 2 shots, but it's a trompe le turf . . . 8^D. . . all my moving swing parts suddenly slammed into place, starting on # 15, but on #17 I hit 4 perfect shots.

Mr Science said, "Shucks, I wanted nuthin' higher than a 4 on my back 9, but now I have to hole out a chip".

After I made my putt, on the way back to the cart, I told him, "I got your 4 on that hole, and I'm going to get your 4 on #18, too!"

"That's ok," he said, "I plan to make 3, anyway!"

"Well, then," I said, "I plan to take that one, then!"

#18, par 4, is almost an unfair hole, for anyone who can't fly the bunkers pinching (absolutely choking off!) the landing area, 280+ from the back tees, so that leaves a second shot around 200 yds to the green, with a big bunker guarding the front, coming from the right side of the fairway where you have to go to avoid the fairway bunkers: an impossible shot. So Mr Science laid his 3iron just over the fat part of the green in the long rough, and I pierced the green with an arrow-like 5wood that didn't fade at all, so rolled off the green into the deep swales left. I had a sidehill/uphill lie on fringe like grass, so I used my old Texas 7iron putting chip stroke. The ball lobbed into a carom off the side of the swale towards the hole, broke right, then left, then rattled the flagstick real good, but didn't go in -- just kick-in distance away.

Mr Science looked at me balefully, "You never do what you say you're going to do." Then he made a semi-miraculous short-side up-and-down for his par, too.

So I thought this was the best Gary Panks course solo design we've played so far -- as good as the collaborations with David Graham.

The club house is very nice. I had my breakfast taco and coffee sitting at the bar, talking to the barmaid while she setup for the day . . . the coffee was very good, from an urn; the taco was very good, too -- pre-made, wrapped in foil, and kept warm, so I don't know how good it would be after a couple hours, but I got mine just after they brought them out. It had little bits of fresh green jalapeno that I tho't was just crazy-good . . . that delicious, exquisite agony of chile-burn with hot coffee was just perfect. I saw other guys on the course eating the tacos, but first picking out the green bits. I bet they use their footwedge a lot, too.

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