Thursday, September 28, 2006
6646 yds, Par 71, Slope 128, by Gary Panks
They Say: "No other Sedona golf course provides a better combination of jaw-dropping splendor and exceptional challenge than the acclaimed Sedona Golf Resort. Located in the heart of one of the most captivating regions of the Southwest, the thrilling 6,646-yard, par - 71 course is widely considered among the world's most unforgettable golf experiences. Winding around the famed red rocks of Sedona, each hole provides a unique adventure. No wonder this championship Sedona golf course receives a continuous four-star rating from Golf Digest. "
I have marked Panks down on his seemingly ubiquitous solo designs for being unimaginative and repetitive -- Mr Science gives even those high marks, tho', because the conditions at those courses are all so excellent -- so when he lays down one of his lush designs over the rocky & mountainous terrain up in Sedona, the results are extraordinary . . . he does so well with such ordinary land, such as Corte Bella, that one could easily believe he prefers such a layout, but I think at Sedona he shows that he has extraordinary talent and imagination.
It would be debatable, of course, but I would rank it 3rd, behind Rancho Manana and Stoneridge (Prescott Valley), for the architectural achievment of putting a golf course "where one would not naturally occur", a very admirable and amazing achievement, if you know what I mean.
We -- me, Mr Science, and the boys from Connectitcut --were all a little disappointed tho, this trip: the greens had just been aerated and sanded, so they rolled very uncertainly . . . on a casual round you'd never bother about it, but we were playing another 2-foursome tourney, which makes those greens kinda noxious when points are on the line, if you know what I mean. All the subtle trickery of Panksian greens was overwhelmed with just brutal putting conditions . . . if "brutal putting" isn't too much of an oxymoron . . . 8^D. . .
I'd never played this game before, for each 4some, for each hole either 1,2, or 3 players scores counted, so par on a par 4 on # 3, e.g., would be 12 -- plus handicap, too, of course, so we'd just mark down many net below par or above par the 4some was on each hole. Neither 4some was more than 3 or 4 below par on the front 9, but the other 4some, Mr Science's team finished up 14 under, after being as low as 17 under to win.
I didn't even understand the game until the 6th hole, but there was when I realized that for some reason, every third hole was harder than the others. If we only needed 1 score, we sometimes had 4 pars to work with, but when we needed 3 scores, we always had at least 1 net-bogie to add in. Mr. Science said, "We had the same problem. I think it is just a coincidence that on this course, every third hole is really hard!" . . . 8^D. . .
On # 3, a shortish par 5, my drive went in a trap for the 3rd straight hole -- I was spraying the ball solidly . . 8^D. . . foozled the next but hit a sweet 6iron that curled up 6 feet behind the hole. I missed the birdie, because of the bumps and sand, but my partners seemed very pleased with my net birdie -- like I said, I didn't understand the game, yet.
On #6, after I shanked my first 1iron into the weeds on the right, I finally understood the game: we needed 3 pars on this hole, net pars, at-least! I didn't give up. Found my ball and 2 other good 'uns where I could get a club on it and I chopped it out short of a big trap, about 145 short of the green. That trap marked the right edge of an arroyo that cuts across the fairway. There are trees in the arroyo -- I couldn't see the green, which was elevated at least 30 ft from my ball. I hit a great shot - I tho't - but it ballooned up in the wind and came up short. Took 4 to get up and down, triple bogey, no help.
I don't remember #9, the #3 handicap par 5, as well as #5, the #3 handicap par 5, but I remember hashing it up really badly with s topped drive, a shanked 1iron, and 3 putts. There is nothing so useless as a shanked 1iron . . . a shanked wedge may seem more aggravating at the time, but you oughta be able to find it, at least.
#12, the #4 handicap par 5, took a lost ball drive and a drop and 2 4irons to get on the green. The par 5s can only rank so high in the handicapping if they have dynamic elevation changes. 3 putts for a double-bogey . . . no help . . . I wasn't hopeless or helpless all day, I hit some great shots and made some pars, but I cost the team more strokes than I made, for sure. Very Galling. Dang Greens. Missed both my birdie chances.
#15, the #2 handicap par 4 hole epitomized my round . . . not typically, but rather essentially. I'd been hitting my shots real solid -- when I did hit them -- but without knowing where they were going, but this one was the way I like 'em, down the left side with a hard fade on it that gets me as much roll as draw. It IS downhill, but that ball took two huge bounces back towards the center of the fairway, then rolled on into the edge of the arroyo that interrupts the fairway. A bonafide 300 yd drive, but the ball was kinda sitting down in a patchy downhill lie. So natcherly, instead of bolstering the team with the birdie I had already booked in the scorecard in my head, I had to chunk the next two shots into the trash in front of me. A little 3/4 nine iron, and I chunked it twice. "That's enough, Cactus," said my genial cart partner, "I won't give you another ball here, 'cuz I can see the steam coming out ofyour ears!" Great hole.
So, I managed to put a good swing on the ball on #14 handicap par 4 #18 . . . I don't think it's truly drivable, tho' the yardage is short, since the green is so elevated . . . my drive was high and straight at the green, but still came up 50 - 60 yds short, even from the very elevated tees. I guess that was too close, since I had to finish with a chunk, a chip, and a very good putt to par, never mind birdie.
I hate to slight the other holes, especially #11 and #13 . . . I might not be so enthusiastic about the par 3s here, but OTOH I was very grateful for the break on #17. Very. They're not gimme holes: they play easily, but you may not score well, after all.
Even if the course is not built on top of 18 vortices, it is a magical experience with great golf and great scenery.
This seems like one of those $12 burger places, tho', rather than a spot for golfers to linger and replay their rounds over a convivial beer or two, much less a convenient grab-and-go dispensary . . . both times I've played there there has been a wedding that afternoon in the clubhouse, which is very nice for the intendeds, but dashed inconvenient for the golfers, if you know what I mean.