Sunday, September 03, 2006
7029 Yds, Par 72, Slope 123, by Gary Panks
Somewhere in the middle of the back9, the two athletic young men we were playing with were debating the relative merits of this course, The Devils Claw with the other, the Cattail -- and they were of the opinion that they liked the Devils Claw more. I couldn't help myself: "Oh, I think the Cattail is miles better! I don't even think its debatable!"
"Why do you say that?" the youngster asked me a little pugnaciously.
"Cause you can make an eagle on the Cattail!" said Mr Science, to bail me out, but I don't think he sees much difference, either. So we left that and went on around with our golf, but this is the beauty of The Blog: The Last Word is Mine: so here it is:
"Why The Cattail is Superior to the Devils Claw"
Empirically, I would cite these two points:
- The slopes: Cattail = 132; Devils Claw = 129
- The Nationwide tour uses Cattail; Devils Claw is relegated to a practice facilty and parking lot.
Architecturally, I think it is most obvious that The Cattail has more features / obstacles imbedded into the design. If we compare the 18th holes, and use that as a way to encapsulate the differences between the two, that will make it most clear and definite:
- The landing area on The Devils Claw is wide open -- it is uphill, which adds a subtle challenge to the tee shot, but there's no danger. The Cattail landing area for the drive on #18, in contrast, is pinched between two bunker/mound complexes, plus I think the swales and mounds in the rough make missing the fairway more penal than the gently sloping side shoulder rough at Devlis Claw
- The green complex on Devils Claw is just not visually intimidating as on Cattail; the mounds and swales are so gentle as to be invisible, and the greenside bunker does not intrude into the shot as much.
- The green surfaces at Devils Claw are Panksian, but the Cattail greens are uber-Panksian, if you see what I mean. . .8^D . . .
So, the best way to describe Devils Claw is by mentioning the extras found on Cattail. But I don't wanna dis' this course . . . the fairways are lush and wide and the greens are soft and smooth . . . it's not any worse to me than Corte Bella . . . if that's not Praising With Faint Criticism, I don't know what is . . . 8^D. . . .
My resolution for this round was not to swoon in the middle between a good start and a strong finish . . . so started off with 2 bogeys and then went 8 over on the next 4 holes. . . "Looks like the course jumped you early this time," noted Mr Science. Yeah, I had 3 7s on the front9, mainly because my driving sucked so bad . . . even with those huge fairways in front of me, I can't seem to just make solid contact. I still finished strongly with 4 pars and only 2 7s on the back9, 50-45=95. Mr Science polished off the course with a solid 40-39=79, which impressed even the young flatbellies we played with.
Playing this course reminded me how much I admired the par 3s on the Cattail, too. I mentioned all the par 5s on Cattail, I think, as among my faves, but the 3s there seemed to be unique, but uniformly challenging. On Devils Claw only the #12 par 3 registered on my dangermeter.
I liked these holes, especially, tho', at Devils Claw
#1 Par 4, with its uphill drive and downhill approach
#2, Par 4, with its heavily bunkered landing area and uphill approach
#3, Par 5, is very skillfully made to be challenging to long hitters trying to reach in 2 and yet also layup- friendly
#8, Par 4, a short hole that Mr Science both parred, he with 3 iron/8iron; I with driver/9iron, despite lots of fairway and greenside bunkers and a triple tier green. The young fellas both bogied, being unable to recover from the uneven lies in the rough they encountered "going for it"
#9, Par 4, verges on target golf. I was driving so poorly, there was no way I could go for the short route, and hit at the left side on this divided fairway, so sure enough, I hit my first good drive . . . I tho't it would go thru the end of the right fairway, but I was 50 yds short of that, and still 190 yds away from an uphill 2-tiered green guarded by bunkers short-right and long-left. Intimidated & frustrated, I had to foozle a 3wood, fan an 8iron, and chunk a chip for a 7 from there. Mr Science played it pretty well, and still wound up with a bogey -- tough hole.
The back9 greens seemed more elevated to me, in a very natural way, and even if the holes are more minimalist than Cattail, the back9 seemed better than the front.
#12, par 3, is like a redan hole, with water . . . 8^0. . .
#13, par 4, almost belongs on Cattail instead. Challenges the imagination of both the long hitter and the strategic player. Has one of the few greens that is mounded instead of tiered.
#16, par 4, I liked for its uphill approach. It may have seemed like a tougher shot to me because my drive was so poor, but this was one of Mr Sciences few bogies, so that tells me it was tough for everyone.
#17, par 5, has such a wide desert area separating the green complex from the rest of the fairway that it doesn't matter whether the golfer goes for it in 2 (very penal if missed) or tries to lay back with strategy (downhill shot variances)
OF all the 36-hole clubs, this might be the best one to play all 36 in one day . . . they offer a $25 "replay" option that doesn't require any reservation. The restaurant is good enough to make it part of the attraction. I ordered another breakfast burrito, but this time they weren't premade. I had to rush thru it to make our tee time, and didn't practice putting or loosen up at all, but the burrito was just as good as last time, and the sides brought with it on the plate were perfect: muy picquante salsa and delicious seasoned potato cubes.