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Thursday, May 10, 2007


Dove Valley Ranch

7011 Yds, Par 72, Slope 131, by Robert Trent Jones, Jr


They Say: "Dove Valley Ranch Golf Club opened in 1998 to rave reviews and accolades as Arizona's Best New Public Golf Course, and it continues to grow even more inviting as the challenging and graceful layout by Robert Trent Jones Jr. matures. Just as ancient people who once lived here conjured beauty and function from the harsh surroundings, so did the Jones Jr. team - creating a golf course that respects the natural surrounding while supporting a more comfortable lifestyle. The upscale, daily fee facility opened as the key amenity in the new 850-acre Dove Valley Ranch master planned golf community in North Phoenix, off Cave Creek Road and Rancho Paloma Dr."

Is there anywhere else in the world where you can play courses designed by 3 generations of the same family? Wigwam Blue (Robert Trent Jones, Sr), Las Sendas and Dove Valley Ranch (Robert Trent Jones, Jr), and Legend Trail (Rees Jones) . . . We need to replay Legend Trail so I can complete this thought: the unique similarities are easy to spot; the differences on such a small sample are less important.

I think that Vista Verde, up off Dynamite Rd, next to Tonto Verde must fit into that pantheon somehow, but I can't prove it.

#2 serves as an introduction to this classical design, Par 4 dogleg around a lake, short and sharp enough that the more you shy away from the water, the more likely you are to be off into the desert, looking at a shot to an uphill, elevated green over a cavernous bunker. My 4-iron out of that left rough went to the short-right fringe of the green. My pitch up to the back pin position, then my amazing downhill slider par putt made Mr Science's eyebrows quiver -- far above my normal short game.

I love, LOVE the Lana Turner Ideation of this hole -- see also Paako Ridge and Golf du Macon La Salle

Likewise on the par 3 #3, when Mr Science and I were both left of the green, the up-hill, multi-tiered, severely elevated green. He lobbed a pitch up onto the top shelf- and held it - while I bumped a 7-iron up the slope with a roll towards the pin. He was closer, but I was readin' with my feet with stunning accuracy this day, and I rolled my 12 foot uphill hook right into the hole. When his putt burned the edge again, I could hear him muttering about the greens . . . 8^) . . . but the natural order of the universe eventually re-asserted itself . . .

I don't have our actual scorecard handy, but I think I had a 42-50, falling apart in bad-luck on the back 9 again, even tho' the one thought that crowds out every swing tho't I fought to keep out was that I wanted to have a good back 9, and finish strong. Oh, well. . . 8^/ . . .

Mr Science, I am guessing, had his usual consistent round, slightly elevated by the difficulty of the course, say 41-42=83, but I ain't sure . . . all I know is like on #14, this blind t-shot absolute flummoxed me, I couldn't make myself hit the right shot, so . . . on my 2nd shot I got cactus thorns in my hand trying to pull off a Tiger-esqe heroic shot from the deep woods, while Mr Science placidly laid a mid-iron out in the middle and a short iron on the green, easy-peasy.

The par 5 #15 is a great segue from #14. Once again, the T shot is blind, and looks too close to layup, but too far to fly the gap. A well hit 3 wood might, might still get into trouble. We all hit drivers, into the trash thru the end of the fairway. "I thought you said you'd played this course before!" I griped at Mr Science, "you seemed to have remembered that last one ok!"

"Well," he shrugged, "it was 3 years ago -- I can't be expected to remember every hole!"

As I recall he had a sandy lie, playable, just, but I was off under a tree hitting a backwards wedge to get at it, due to the superior length of my new King Cobra Driver (A little wilder, if that is possible than my old mid-size Cobra clone, but 40 or 50 yards longer when I leverage the stiff shaft (I been playing regular on my driver for years, years))

This is not a good hole to be hitting safety shots out of the desert on . . . three good full shots would get you there -- much better.

While the par 3 #16 seems like a relief, just in the fact that you can see whats out in front of you, you have to have some poise left to make your up-and-down on that green. I guess there's guys that can float in a 200 yd shart over the trap in front and hold that green, but I don't play with very many that can.

SO natcherly, after a faux-breather like that, you must have, You Must Have a long par 5 with a divided fairway and a 85 degree dogleg left!

I think with my new driver I have enough length - sometimes - to get past the pinched fairway over the trap, but would that ever be the smart play? After playing it once, I'd say not, but I haven't tried that second shot layup yet, either, successfully.

The moderate length par 4 # 18 is no gimme, due to the water all down the right side, and in front of the green, but if you hit driver - dangit! Nobody Told Me! -- and steer left, there is some messy desert over there with knee deep grass, if you can believe it. What I couldn't believe is that I found my ball and hacked it out with a half-a-9iron to the front of the green -- still 3 putted, my poise-and-concentration was l-o-n-g gone.

So, great finishing holes on a great course. There were some other good holes on the front too, but I still had my poise-and-composure, then, and I remember hunting for other people's balls in the desert with calm complacence that my own ball was way down the middle of the fairway. I don't think you could argue that Dove Valley Ranch is the best course in the valley, tho' I'd be willing to hear any such argument, so I have to give it a 3, but it sure makes some of the other 3s look mighty 4ish. Mr Science simply gives it a 2 based on quality and condition. . .

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