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Saturday, November 25, 2006



7366 Yds, Par 72, Slope 133

Mr Science insisted we should play the Oasis Thanksgiving morning . . . our TurkeyDay luncheon appt wasn't till 3pm, so we had time, so fine . . . and he insisted we'd have time to drive down to extreme southeast PHX to Florence, so Fine . . . and he insisted that we'd have to play the 9-holers sometime and this was good as any, So FINE!

Then he insisted he didn't need my Mapquest instructions, cuz it didn't know that the 202 had been finished, and that we should take Rittenhouse, even tho' my instructions said Hunt Hwy - - the jist wound up we had to stop and ask directions at Los Colinas . . . so we doubled back and zoomed around queen creek down to the Oasis, late for our t-time, but it didn't matter, there were few people there.

While I got my morning microwave-warmup from the concessionaire-head, he hit balls into a batting cage out behind . . . we would have walked, but the course is on both sides of the Hunt Hwy, so they don't recommend it.

I was kinda stunned by the course as it revealed itself: it has been artfully shaped into very natural, but very tortured contours. Everything everywhere has a kind of still-under-construction feel to it, but the golf course itself is great. Never once feels like a goat-track or cow-pasture, even tho' the course has been broken up into 4 separate tracks and stretched out thru the neighborhood. The houses never really come into play, but they are everpresent, except where construction is incomplete. The desert areas all look a little unfinished, graded and combed, but not replanted. The water areas look a little artificial, the usual Arizona bathtubs, but with cattail reeds inserted.

Each hole has 2 greens and 2 sets of (6) tees, tho only 1 set looked in use. So there's some variety inbetween the 9s. Add a little bit of wind and the golf challenge is plenty. Each hole kinda has a Panksian/Graham feel to it, in that the greens are elevated just enough and contoured with tiers and slopes, so that tho' the fairways are wide, the approach can be vexatious.

The most exciting thing about the course is the two chances you take crossing the Hunt Hwy . . . it wasn't that bad this Thanksgiving Day, but it is clear that at some times on normal days and weekend this would taking your life into your own hands.

I shot a 92, not playing that well, just wrong, if you know what I mean, while Mr Science revelled in another 79. I could have had an 89, if, on the last hole I hadn't muscled up on a 5iron and topped it into the water, dangit. I had discovered during the round that my forefinger knuckle (my excuse du jour) didn't bother me if I swang s-l-o-w enough, but I forgot.

On #8/17, Mr Science & I had an interesting discussion.

The First time around we couldn't even find #8, till a marshall that happened by re-directed us. Since we couldn't make heads-or-tails out of the yardages, and he was still there we asked him: turns out they had switched the flags, but the scorecards hadn't been updated yet.

I mean: each hole has 2 greens, one closer than the other, and mostly, the front 9 green (Red Flag) is closer than the back 9 green (Blue Flag), but not on this hole. So anyway, after consultation with the marshal and enough shared calculus to qualify for college credits we hit.

Mr Science mis-judged the elevation and/or wind and wound up on the back of the green. He still made his par, of course, but he had to make a touchy 15 footer, that if he misses the cup would have rolled down a steep slope 25 feet past.

I, on the other, judging perfectly, lay at the bottom of that hill, so it was no easy lag putt par, but I made it.

So as we surveyed #17, we expected that we should know what to do, but uncertainty plagued us. The Blue Flag green was closer, but less elevated, and the wind didn't seem as blustery as it had before. "I give up," I said, "I can't do it in my head. I know that I should take less club for the green less elevated, but I don't know why? Because the parabola doesn't have room to play out its full length to an elevated green?"

Mr Science gave me the pitying look of the Educated for the Illiterate: "It is simple," he said, "when the cosine of the arc-tangent is less than the hypoteneus, you need more club!".

"Is that like one of them 'imaginary lines' you draw in Geometry?" I asked. "I never could understand that! How do you know to draw an Imaginary Line? How did you know you needed an Imaginary Line?"

"You may think," I roared, "that you know what you are talking about, but I think you do not, cuz I dang sure don't know what you're talking about!"

He was laughing so hard he had to add wiping his eyes with his shirttail to his pre-shot routine. He hit pin-high on the green, and I was short, but we both parred again.

The more I think about it, tho', I can almost see them imaginary lines in his formula, like a cad-cam visualization . . .



7002 Yds, Par 72, Slope 126, by Greg Nash


They Say: Tournament ready: As a five-time host of the Senior PGA Tour, two-time home to LPGA competitions, and past host of the Johnny Miller Pro Am, Hillcrest Golf Club has earned a reputation as the choice for exciting tournament play.
Challenging: Playing over 7,000 yards from the tips, Hillcrest poses a challenge to even the biggest hitters. There are, however, plenty of doglegs, water hazards, and white sand bunkers to keep them in check."

Interactive Map

Mr. Science had played here before and found it wanting, but I told him the interactive hole maps on the web made the course look really interesting. After we played I felt he might have been right, but he said, "As we played each hole, I remembered it from before and I thought it was very interesting, this time." Of course, he enjoys any course he breaks 80 on -- I question his objectivity. . . 8^D . . .I think I broke 100, but I can't find my scorecard.

The fairways are more subtle than the hole maps seem to indicate, and by-and-large, the course is flatter than one would think was desirable, but the doglegged fairways and the omnipresent water hazards keep the interest keen and the challenge fresh.

I don't remember what the #1 Handicap hole is, or what the Signature Hole is, but the hole I remember is #14, a long downhill Par 3, where the green juts out into the lake. The pin was nestled behind a frontside bunker and the shot looked impossible -- to get on the green anywhere near the pin instead of in the trap or the water -- but all 4 of our foursome was on the green. Only one of us made par, the other three had 3-putt bogeys, mine from over 100 ft.

I reckon some winter day we'll head back to see whether this course is as good as we think it is.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Mr Science Makes an Ace

Although Mr Science has had 6 or 8 eagles in his life, he'd never had an Ace. I've seen 2 of his eagles; I've seen him leave a dozen par-3 tee shots inches from the hole; I've seen him hole out from off the green from impossible lies -- lately at least once a round, but not an Ace, but now he says:

I played at Continental today. It's an Executive course, par
60. I shot 61. Had a 1 on the 15th hole. 123 yards, 9 iron. The pin
was behind the trap, so I didn't see it go in, but I told Doug on the tee
"it could be in the hole".
I swear that it is more-than-mere jealously that drives me to point out how inadequate this anecdote is -- I suppose Mr Science's basic Paganican modesty forbids reveling t-o-o-o much in this accomplishment, but -- IF we have to endure other people's golf anecdotes, do we not prefer that they be lively Bunyanesque tales, not dry accountings?

F'rinstance, this excerpt from my own Pilgrim's Progress!

What's amazing to me is how well Mr Science copes with success -- everyone else I know that got an Ace was having and did have one of their worse rounds. . . 8^0. . .


Pointe at Lookout Mountain

We played here soon after we got here in PHX, but before I started blogging. It was a great course, designed by Bill Johnston, who also did Rancho Manana, but, since, especially at the beginning of the Quest, all we played were Great courses, we might have overlooked it a little bit.

Or it might have been that first hole . . . Sometimes it happens that I hit two good shots on the first hole and Mr Science does not, despite his warming up with a bucket of balls and I, with a hot breakfast, and it happened this time.

I was in the middle of the green putting 20 ft for a birdie back towards the front of the green while Mr Science was in a deep swale in front of the green, so you'd figger I'd be in good position to par and he would be in position to save bogey with a shot, a putt, and a tap-in, but . . . . he pitched right up next to the hole for a tap-in par, from that position I now have come to recognize as a very typical Mr Science leave, but if you have the short game, why not use it?

The woman of the couple we were playing with was away on the green, not too far off my line, so after she putted off the green, I said aloud that mine might not reach the hole -- but it did and rolled off, too, so we both wound up with the same shot as Mr Science had had. Not as good of results.

So I haven't been back, tho' I'd like to, but Mr Science did recently, for a charity tournament:

We played the Pointe at Lookout Mtn. It was the complete opposite feeling of playing Palm Valley the 2nd time. Instead of a vague familiarity, I remembered every hole, and each interesting feature. The 10th is my favorite tee shot in Phoenix.

It was a scramble.

Paul is a 4, and the other two were about 20, longer than me, but wild. We came in 13 under, 5 shots out of the lead. We needed 3 tee shots per man, and Paul used two mulligans on the last hole to get his last one in. I drove it pin high on 14, 327 yards. Hit a 5-iron onto the 18th and we made the eagle putt.

I had some sort of swing "feechur" in the middle of the round. I was hitting it pretty good, but at the start of my downswing my sunglasses would fly off my head. I think that has to indicate some sort of flaw, but I'm not sure what I was doing. It went away after a few shots.

I can't remember the 10th hole, or many others, to tell the truth, but I know it was a choice place. Mr Science's swing "feechur" is obviously a manisfestation of the Kokopelli Golf Stance!

The snack shop at the turn is on top of the hill, with the marble
bathroom. (The others are marble, also, all decorated the same, with gold
fixtures and stained wood trim.) Long steep path up from the 9th
green. The tee is up there, and the fairway is about 80 feet below the
tee. 419 yards straightaway par 4 with desert on the left and thick bushes
on the right. 187 yard carry to reach the fairway. Greenside bunkers
left front, right front, and behind the green on the right.

The hole goes South. You're in the middle of the mountains in the middle of Phoenix (7th Street and Thunderbird). Desert and mountains in all directions. The Marriott resort is there, but not walking distance from the course. There are some houses, but a lot of it is preserve

Monday, November 13, 2006


Pueblo at El Mirage

6596 Yds, Par 72, Slope 125, by Fuzzy Zoeller

At least he hit the fairway
Another course with precious little information on the Web. They don't participate in GolfNow or AZCentral . . . they hardly advertise . . . if we hadn't narrowed our search down to the 20+ Championship Public golf courses left to us, we wouldn't have seen it. . . so imagine our surprise when we whipped up into the parking lot and realized we'd been here before. We just hadn't remembered. . . yeah, that's kinduva black mark on the old course escutcheon.
But we remembered the parking lot, and we remembered the ambience of the course, just not any of the holes . . . I don't want to be unkind, but it must be said: I know that this neighborhood represents the aspirations of some folks, that RV-park-on-a-golfcourse-retirement-community, but honestly, it really is so mot juste that Fuzzy Zoeller's golf course sits amongst a -- let us be frank -- a trailerpark . . . these semi-permanent docking stations where people hook up their RVs never come into play -- they're set well backfrom the fairways, but they are shoehorned into every niche and cranny of the course that they really dominate the landscape.
As Mr Science said, there's nothing wrong with the course, itself, it's just that the ambience sucks.
They let us walk, the course itself was lushly overseeded (and still a little wooly), generously watered, and the weather was perfect, so we had a good time.
Fortified with an absolutely fabulous Fried Egg Sandwich, I started off strong, with a couple of 1-putt pars. My mid-round collapse was limited to a triple and a double bogie on the back 9 on two consecutive holes. I resolved to finish strong, starting on 15, and with a couple of good-miss bladed irons that left me with birdie chances, I parred 15, 16, & 17. On 18, tho', my woods suddenly & totally abandoned me, finished with 9, for a 41-46=87.
Mr Science struggled with an inadequate warm-up -- no woods allowed on the driving range, so he just putted while I got my sandwich. It took him 5 holes to start striking the ball well, but then he was en fuego, including two consecutive birdies on the front 9. Except for his start, and a lost weekend on #9, his play sparkled, 43-41=84.
After he got thru grumbling about the bumpy greens (too wet, not resilient enough from footprints), he said, "If you had parred the last hole, you would have beat me!".



6713 Yds, par 72, Slope 120,

by Gary Panks: http://tinyurl.com/lrck3

It is so odd, how so little information about this course is available on the internet . . . don't they want people to find them? When there are so many courses in The Valley, the competition is fierce, are they just biding their time, till some developer will build condos on the fairways -- I mean IN the fairways?
Photography: http://www.golfcoursephotography.com/results.asp
Golfweb: http://www.golfweb.com/courseguide/ocdata?st=detail&gwid=15493

King of Greens: http://www.kingofthegreens.com/kotg/kg_reviews.php?action=view&id=5

Johnny Bulla: http://www.ahwmag.com/article_display.php?sid=73
The problem with courses with so little information on the web, is that we forget we already played 'em and don't want to go back, like this one, we just weren't rating courses yet and had no record.
There's nothing seriously wrong with the course, it's just a very ordinary Gary Panks course, meaning rather monotonous hole appearances and treacherous greens . . . to give it positive spin, one could say that the course was subtle in its challenges, but that the woolly, post over-seeding condition of the course disguised those subtleties.
We just had a vague sense of deja vu up to the 13th hole, then we knew we'd been there before: a longish par 3 with the green elevated, not above the tee, but above the smoothed-over arroyo in front. Large boulders decorate the breastworks around the front of the green for a distinctive, if not very intimidating look.
We remembered the next hole, too, that doubles back parallel to 13 along the wash that separates them -- I don't know why.
That is, I don't know why we remembered that very ordinary hole, not why does it double back, if you know what I mean. . . 8^). . .
I was scraping it around without distinction, up until the last 3 holes, when I suddenly got my swing into synch, nearly birdiing #16 and #18, and nearly parring #17 -- missed all 3 putts by a total of an inch, due, no doubt to the disguised Pankreatic nature of the greens, even all woolly-like. I finished with an 89; Mr. Science with his usual pragmatic 41-41=82.
Good course to walk.

Saturday, November 04, 2006




(1) of, or concerning, the Cult of Golf. The over-riding philosophical and moral orientation of ancient Celtic tribes from which the Game of Golf is derived. See also Highland Games

(2) to be severely austere in the observance of a very few unwritten laws, and penally punitive to transgressors.

(3) to be unforgiving, parsimonious, curmudgeonly in the pursuit of some High-Minded or Noble End.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Palm Valley

7015 Yds, Par 72, Slope 133, by Arthur Hills


Note that, here in the Valley, Arthur Hills also designed the Interesting & Challenging Camelback Resort Course - not to be confused with the Old-Fashioned & Flat Camelback Club Course.

They Say: "One of Palm Valley Golf Club's most valuable assets that set it apart from other Phoenix golf courses is its diversity in play. Whether you're an experienced golfer seeking a serious challenge or a new or junior player looking to polish your game, Palm Valley, housing two of the top Phoenix golf courses, offers golf just the way you like it. Only minutes from downtown Phoenix, Palm Valley is one of the most complete golf facilities in the entire Southwest. In fact, Palm Valley offers 36 holes of great golf. "

Well, everybody raves about the 9th hole, I didn't see anything so special about it. I'd birdied #8 after a string of seven bogies, and figgered to at least par #9 to break 45, so I placed my drive carefully over in the grassy mounds on the right, away from the water that runs all the way up the left side, strategic, if you know what I mean. From the half-buried side-hill lie, I tho't I was playing it safe -- even with my 3wood -- and planned a fade down the right side again, but what I got was a tomahawk hook into the water. Score a 7.

Meanwhile Mr Science capped my birdie on #8 with a chip-in birdie on #9.

"This is starting to irritate me," I complained. . . "it's getting to be too regular for you to chip-in on top of my birdies, like at Vistancia!" I swear, he missed 4 more chip-ins by less than a foot, total.

I don't remember much of the back 9, except that it seemed fun to play . . . it might be it's just that much easier than the front 9? Wound up with 46-42=88, to Mr Science's 41-41=82.

None of the holes have stuck memorably in my memory, but we were never bored. It's not that Hill's designs are bland, they're just so subtle they're hard to describe: the greens canted at an awkward angle; the barely uneven fairway lies; the large, harmless looking sand traps.

Special kudos to Palm Valley for making it so convenient to walk there. They let Mr Science bring his hand-cart, too. Maybe that's why it seemed like so much fun, the walking . . .

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