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Monday, October 02, 2006

 

Trilogy at Vistancia

7259 Yds, Par 72, Slope 134, by Gary Panks



They Say: "Tall native Arizona grasses. Breathtaking Arizona desert vistas. Arizona blue skies that stretch forever. Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia is not simply a new Arizona golf course; it's a new golf experience.

Crafted by renowned golf course architect Gary Panks, the championship design at Trilogy golf club draws upon distinctive land features and a backdrop of stunning Arizona scenery to result in a truly extraordinary setting.
With more than 70 pronounced and transitional bunkers that feed gently into the golf course's fairways and native areas, Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia highly rewards careful planning and precise execution by the golfer. There are five different tee boxes from which to choose on this unique 18-hole, par 72-championship golf course. Tees range from 5,573 yards to 7,259 yards, allowing players of every skill level to enjoy this exceptional test of golf."


We took a day off from work -- comp time, rather than simple hooky, if you know what I mean -- to play Vistancia . . . we had enjoyed the Trilogy at Power Point and the Raven at South Mountain so much that it seemed logical to re-play Vistancia, for it ought to be better than we remembered it, and we didn't remember that much about it . . .


. . . and I think we now think this is a fairly amazing course: the natural lay of the land mitigates some of Panks' tendency towards the mundane, the tall grass rough is unique to Phoenix, and several of the holes are exceptional.


I started out a little tentative, babying my elbow (that I'd hurt last week coming out of a fairway bunker) and experimenting with my long irons (replacing my 3 & 5 woods), meaning I parred the 1st and the 4th holes, with a couple of double-bogeys in between. I double bogeyed the par 5 5th hole, too, the #1 handicap hole, and dangit, this is how I judge the quality of my game: if I concentrate I can play par golf, and the difficult usually makes me rise to the challenge, but if I don't, I can sink into the slough of despond.


Then on #6, a shortish par 4 with a sharp dogleg right, something clicked into place and I confidently shaped a power fade over a target saguaro in the crux of the dogleg into a swale in the rough only 90 yds from the green -- that seems like such a familiar shot it must be one of the favorite looks in Phoenix . . . we think we remember a hole like it at Stoneridge (only much more downhill), and one of the Troon courses, and others -- or maybe just from the last time we played here. From there it was a simple matter to lob a half-wedge on the front of the green and let trickle up to the hole for a kick-in birdie. Meanwhile Mr Science tomahawked is drive into a bunker on the outside of the dogleg, then bladed a 5 iron into a bunker behind the green. From his downhill lie all he could do was chop it out and hope it stayed on the green, but then after a suitable amount of time had passed, while Mr Science & I commented audibly on how long it took him to play he holed a 30 ft putt for a par.

"Well!" I grumbled, "That was lucky!" Mrs Science made the sign of the buttoned lip and went to her cart in silence.


Feeling confident and in-control I smoothed a 6iron 15 ft below the pin on the par 3 #7 while Mr Science made a wierd, off-balance, quick pull into the mogully swale left of the green (in short, the Kokopelli Golf Swing!). The pin was in a devilish position, a very Panksian pin position, on a knob bi-sected by two ridges . . . I tho't there was a chance I might make my double breaker, but I didn't think Mr Science could even get up and down to save bogey. However: he lobbed the ball up to the edge of the green (from at least 8 feet below the dance floor) and let it release the remaining 25 or 30 ft, where mirabele dictu, it went in. When I saw how his ball had broken on the green like Crazy-Legs on a broken field run, my little 15 ft putt looked like 30 ft. I just lagged it up to the hole, and took my par.


Then I barked at the beaming Mr Science, "You Crazy person! You made a par more interesting than my birdie on the last hole, and now you've made an impossible birdie to outshine my regulation par!" He blithely ignored me -- what did he care? He should have been 4-over for those two holes and was 1-under.

With continued solid play we both parred the long par 4 #8, and were licking our chops over a par 5 #9, since Panks courses have such wide fairways, the 5s ought to be a gimme par birdie opportunity -- never mind that I was 13 over on these par 5s this day -- and we both just crushed our drives, so that we had a little more than 200 yds to the green. I looked my shot over, downhill, just a little wind, hook lie, short rough, good angle to the pin from the right side, and took out my 1iron to go for it. I have been hitting a 90% effective tigerwoods stinger-style shot with it for 2 years now, but ordinarily this would have been a 3 wood shot.



The "good" golfers always say you have to have confidence before you can hit good shots, while the duffers scratch their heads and ask how can you have confidence until you hit good shots, and I don't have the answer to that dilemma.

All I know is that instead of the stinger fade I was looking for I got a balloon banana-ball somewhere rightish. I found 3 other keepers in the trash there in front of the green and in the desert area right of the green, but not my ball. Despondent, I dropped there by the cart path and chunked 3 pitches to get on the green then 3 putted for a 9. Mr Science said he came up short, too, into the trash -- I didn't notice -- he was perplexed, but not as poleaxed as I was -- "That should've only been 170 yds to get over the arroyo?"

I zoomed up to the 10th tee, ready to go, but the Sciences did not follow. While I waited I walked down the hill thru the tall grass looking for golf balls, I found about a dozen keepers, some only a few yards from the tee. Probably give 'em to my brother-in-law. . . . I kept thinking they would rejoin me but they were stranded at the turn waiting for gourmet hotdogs to be prepared especiale! We remembered that last time here there had been a kid out on the path up to 10 making hamburgers and hotdogs for us on the run, but this day, a week day, that service was lacking. I let a couple of groups go thru, then went looking for them, and there they were just short of apoplepsy.

This trend towards elegant golf dining -- I don't think it serves golfers well, only the dilettantes and poseurs who pretend to golf in the manner of the chateau reptilians that haunt ski-lodges preying on people with broken legs.

I righted my ship enough to play bogey golf for the next 4 holes, but then took 9-8-6 on #14-15-16, the combination, again, of my dodgy-elbow and my balky 1-2-3 irons.



on the par 3 #17 we suddenly remembered where we were: Last time here we'd both been on the far right side of the large green and both made unbelievable 40 - 50 ft putts for birdie -- if One of us had made such a putt it was amazing, but both of us on the same hole passeth understanding, if you know what I mean. This time tho', we just made ordinary pars.




and we remembered #18, too . . . there was a very deja vu sense about it to me: a weak drive left behind the bunker, a sculled 2 iron out to the right, a 4iron pulled in anger over to the right rough, a mis-hit wedge, a chunked chip and 3 putts. It doesn't have to be that way, but somehow those wide-open Panks fairways don't always look that way from the tee, doubts creep into the mind, poor shots result in trouble.

So I floundered to a 45-52=97, for the reasons I have given. Mr Science monotonously posted another 82 with a 39 on the front (he kept his poise and made par out of the arroyo on #9 -- if HE was tiger woods, he would have said he didn't have his A-game).

We both raised our estimation of this course from the first time we played it, we have a better sense of what is ordinary here in the Valley, and what is extraordinary. This is a special course.

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