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Monday, March 26, 2007


Arrowhead Country Club

7001 Yds, Par 72, Slope 124, by Arnold Palmer

They Say: "This course features fast greens that are sloped and difficult to read. In addition, water hazards come into play on several holes. Many holes offer fantastic views. This club plays host to a Phoenix Open qualifier every year. Members of any American Golf course are allowed to play here. The course is open to the public on Mondays."

A lush, well-designed, well-maintained facility that is ultimately a little ordinary, despite the Palmer Star-power. In the end we (The Defenestrator, Ricky, Billy, and myself) decided that the layout just wasn't as interesting as the Legends at Arrowhead Golf CLub, almost next door, also designed by The King. There were similarities, of course, and it took 5 hours to get around, and in-the-final-analysis, the CC just lacks the je nais sans quois of even the GC.

Not to say that there aren't some very good holes here . . .

The par 4 # 5 is sorta long (433 yds) but the challenge here is the soreful temptation to cut the corner of the dogleg right -- it "looks" like you can drive over the huge bunker that runs down the right side, and it looks like you could drive thru the dogleg otherwise, but you can't and you probably wouldn't . . . the trap runs along the inside of the dogleg all the way to the green, which you can't see from the tee, so two of us were in the trap and two of us were actually right of the trap, behind trees that hide the green. I hit a thin three iron thru the trap just short of the green, then hit a miracle pitch up on the same tier as the pin, and made a long par putt, but I don't recommend that strategy . . . too many uncertain variables, if you see what I mean.

The par 4 #8 is maybe the most interesting hole on the course, and not just because of the way I played it . . . I skied my drive straight at the green, barely over the water that I had hubristically believed was "no problem". When I saw my ball had rolled to the base of a tree I was kicking myself for not going around the water, staying with the fairway, but the water on the right looked reachable from the tee -- not sure it is, it's really more up by the green, but if you hammered one with a lot of roll, the water might be in play.

From back in the fairway, the green looked impossible to hit: small, with a steep fall off on all sides from the turtle-back middle. Sure enough, even Billy's ball, the best of our shots rolled off the side. I had a turrible shot: I could make a pass at the ball and I was only 160 from the green, but the tree was right there and the water up on the right was definitely in play. I needed to hit a cut shot but if it sliced at all it would be wet, but I hit a perfect half-4-iron that wound up on the front of the green.

From there, the green looked even more impossible, with something like a 4 foot difference between the middle where the pin was and where my ball was, plus my ball sat astride a ridge between two swales, which if either grabbed my ball, I'd be looking at a 5 putt. Billy made a good lag putt for tap-in par, but I was still too timid with mine, and it fell off 12 feet off-line, even tho' it made it to the top tier. I missed that putt, too.

The par 4 #10 is the longest on this course, 446 yds, with a long sweeping turn left around a large pond. The advice we got was to aim for the 2nd tree from the left on the right -- if you see what I mean -- which would mean to skirt the water without actually crossing it, and theoretically ending up in the middle of the fairway. We wound up with one in the water, two on the wrong side of the dogleg and my little unexpected draw about 8 feet above the water inside both trees, around the corner of the pond, behind some sort of willow tree. When I looked at the semi-bare lie, the tree, and the hook lie, I figgered it was trouble. I sliced at it for all I was worth but it still hooked on me. Wound up pin high, left of the green, on the downhill slope of a mound with a swale between me and the green. Odds are the next shot would be in the swale (chunk) or over the green (blade), but I managed to average those two wrongs for a semi-right approach . . . missed the putt tho'. Good hole.

So there's some good holes, but most are sorta straight, and sorta obvious. . . .I wish I hadn't had so many 3-putts, so I could assert the course's ordinariness more forcefully, but that's the course main defense, I think . . . most of the greens are not as contortured as #8, but they did seem hard-to-read. I wound up 45-45=90; Billy wound up with an 83, he said; The Defenestrator struggled to a 97, despite driving the ball spectacularly all day; Ricky suffered a 104, but netted out a 66 in the Peoria System Scoring they used for the tournament, and won a dozen balls -- he says he won't use them until his game is back in shape .

I liked the par 4 #16 which has water at some indefinite distance in front of your drive, but I hit a toehook down the right hand side that left me a short-iron in. Thinking birdie all the way, I was confident, but oddly enough, my short-irons toe-hits don't hook as much as my woods, so, bogey.

I quite liked the par 5 # 18, too, tho' it is very short, 477 yds. I skied my drive then laid up in front of the water with a 5 iron to the left side of the fairway (not on purpose) . . . next time I'd hit more club and go way right, to the fairway that you can't see, cuz I was left with 190 over water to the green. I clouted a 5 wood and tho't I was over the green, but I caught the front bunker (musta been bad trajectory). Billy was in there too, after 2 perfect shots and a wedge that came up short. I got up and in for my 3rd sandy in 5 opportunities, which when I think about it seems awfully good for me. . .

I am so jealous of you guys and your awesome adventures of the golf courses of AZ. I'd like to suggest that you use GolfNow.com to make your tee times, when you do you can save up to 70% off of your greens fees. Check out GolfNow.com Courses in Arizona Thanks and happy golfing!

Paul, and the GolfNow Team
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