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Friday, April 06, 2007


Poston Butte

7282 Yds, Par 72, Slope 127, by Gary Panks

They Say: "a new 18-hole championship golf course designed by Gary Panks and managed by Troon Golf. Located in Florence and nestled in the latest Anthem master plan community, Poston Butte Golf Club at Merrill Ranch will offer more than a quality golf experience but a place you will want to call home. The course is a par 72 and offers 5 sets of tees ranging from 5,300 yards - 7,300 yards in length providing golfers of all skill levels an enjoyable experience. Fairway views offer golfers a glimpse of the historic pyramid shaped fire temple resurrected in the 1800's by Charles Poston from an Apache ruin on a butte nearby capturing the spirit of golf in the southwest. Memorable par three holes featuring island greens, stacked stone walls and bunkers stretching from tee to green will captivate players wanting to try it again and again! "

So, Ok, I played with my Inkster Callaway. It would be foolish to make a hasty generalization, but if I could just place this one tho't with Inkster, it would be that I drove the @#$%@#$ out of that ball consistently, but it didn't putt for crap . . . 8^D . . .

Panks has done so many Phoenix courses, it's really too tempting to compare and rank them . . . I think South Mountain is my favorite, then Sedona, then Tonto Verde Peaks, Whirlwind Cattail, Grayhawk Talon, Vistancia, then all the also-rans . . . so would one want to fit this one in ahead of one of those courses, or is it an also ran ? I liked it better than Corte Bella, and at least as well as the other Whirlwind and Tonto Verde courses . . . it share s the trademarks of a Panks course: wide lush fairways, slightly-more elevated tees and greens than normal -- occasionally much more elevated -- and the familiar Panksian greens that are not typically as contortured as by some other architects, but subtly tricky and hard to read. . . I like the way the green complexes are designed, with one side bunkered up to the edge of the green, unlike those illusory Mckinsie-esque bunkers yards-and-yards away from the putting surface, and with the other side full of links-style swales and mounds, if you see what I mean: pick your poison. . .

The condition of the course was perfect, but outside the grassline has the valley-fever-incubator look to it: bare-graded dirt with no remaining vegetation, and none replanted . . . those future houses won't interfere with play, but like Copper Canyon, they will be all you can see instead of the surrounding mountains . . . there's this fine red dirt gravel just outside the grass, too . . . it didn't nick up my club like ordinary desert gravel, more like a very grainy sand trap as large as the fairway; it took some getting used to before I hit a good shot out of it. . .

Mr Science birdied the par 3 #7, which seemed like a very hard green to hit, sorta turtle-backed with a large swale that drained into the large bunker, but it wasn't till # 11 that I really remember anything remarkable about a hole.

The par 4 #11 doglegs left around a large bunker complex, but the landing area to the right is hidden from view, so we were very uncertain where to hit. Our drives wound up at the bottom of the hill -- weak drives, still 175 yards away from the uphill green. There's room there, if you can challenge that bunker a little bit, but no way could we drive OVER it. My 7 wood wound up in the deep front bunker; 2 sand shots, 2 putts, double bogey. Mr Science caught the left edge of the green and made a very good 2putt for par up two tiers.

#14, 15, & 16 are very tough, interesting par 4s of different length, but all had very elevated greens, so that any missed approach became a testy pitch instead of a simple chip for up and down. I bogeyed all 3 that way, but #16 was the most egregious: despite the wide fairway, and on this hole, a very wide plateau of rough on the right, I still wound up in the red-rock-sandy-mounds; I had to walk up 40 yards to see over the mounds in front of me where the pin was, but that didn't help me cuz my 4iron wound up 20 yards right of the green on the wrong side of another red mound; my pitch shot flew all the way to the green, so it rolled well off the other side; my 7iron chip shot from 30 yds away got caught in the swale that drains toward the front of the green and rolled offline to the fringe 20 ft from the pin; oddly enough, tho', I made that putt . . . the only putt I remember making all day.

#17 looks like a signature hole: the famous TPC 17th hole, but the yardage seems less, the green seems even bigger, and the wind manageable . . . never mind that I wound up taking a drop from the flower garden next to the water and Mr Science had rolled practically onto the wooden bridge to the island. Easy Pars.

We both parred the par 5 #18. Mr Science's drive was in the short rough, his second shot was in the fairway, his wedge was on the green, and a 2putt. My Drive bounced off a tree back into the deep rough, but teed up, my 3wood 2nd shot had pro tragectory, straight into the bunker on the left of the fairway, my 3rd came up just short of the green, leaving a miracle chip and kickin par.

Mr Science strolled around (they let us walk, gladly, as we had paid for a cart) to a 41-41=82. His only trouble hole #10, where he felt rushed as he had to fetch his tire-pump for his pull-cart. He hooked into the water, then semi-foozled his next shot, but made a good up-up-and-down from there. I had a 44-47=91, with one blowup hole on the par 5 #13, when my 3 wood, then my sandwedge betrayed me - only a miracle 60 ft lag-putt salvaged the snowman for me after that.

Mr Science confers a 2 upon the course for the excellent condition of the course, in addition to the very able design and interesting layout. To myself, tho', it always comes down to the question of whether it "could" be the best course in the Valley of the Sun. No. Not now, and not when it is covered in houses, neither. A 3.

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