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Friday, July 27, 2007


Antelope Hills

Golfweb: North 6778 Yds, Par 72, Slope 131, by Lawrence Hughes

Golfweb: South 7014 Yds, Par 72, Slope 124, by Gary Panks

They Say: "Antelope Hills was founded in 1956 with the opening of the North Course. Designed by Lawrence Hughes, the course is a traditional layout, which features tree lined fairways, and fast bentgrass greens. In 1992 the City of Prescott opened its second championship course. The South Course designed by Gary Panks, features open fairways, generous mounding, large undulating greens and a very panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and granite rock formations."
The South course is a typical Panks, laid out on a very interesting piece of land -- not outstanding, mind you, but one with great vistas -- so the wide lush Panks fairways have some small altitude changes in them.

It was funny to hear Mrs Cactus complaining about her putting later . . . seems like sometimes the putt would break the wrong way, away from the hole . . . Mr Science laughed at that and tried to comfort her: it's Panks; those are Panksian greens, even tho' they were bent grass, instead of the bermuda tif we usually get in PHX.

Actually, I felt very comfortable on the course: I've played enough Panks courses that I'm looking for his putting obfuscations, the greens rolled like the ones I like in Albuquerque, very spongy & yet fast, and the rough -- which may have been extra long for the Amateur Tour event they were hosting that weekend -- reminded me of the long bermuda rough in Texas (in which I've had a lifetime of experience) even tho we reckoned it was rye . . . the ball didn't set up in it at all, but just dove straight down to the bottom . . .
I was even par after 6 holes, with a birdie on #2, then 5 over the next 3, then even-bogey-golf on the back for a 41-45=86. Mr Science struggled to an 86, with no birdies, but 9 missed birdie putts, mostly because he had to integrate re-inflating one of the tires of his hand-cart into his routine: visualise-the-shot, make-the-shot, pump-pump-pump-pump, then hustle to the next shot, plus help the other three of us find our balls in the ankle deep rough . . . I love to play after tournaments, there's always balls left everywhere and in this rough on this weekend, you were likely to find an extra ball looking for your ball.

I remember the short par 4 #4: You could have thrown a beach towel over our 2 balls in front of the green, and we both hit reasonable flop-wedges over the bunker in front to the pin, Mr Science 8 ft, and me 12, but neither could make that birdie on that uber-Panksian green.
Most of the holes were not that memorable, even with the altitude changes: fun to play and challenging in spots, but not dramatic, for the most part, even with the mountainous backdrop. Towards the end of the round we were getting sprinkles and could see lightning off in the distance, so we were all hurrying along a little bit, plus keeping one eye on the sky, so the back 9 seems vague to me . . . that is, I remember individual shots, but nothing really bloggable.

I always feel like I should just tear up Panks courses, but some subtle genious of his for preying on the insecurities of golfers gets me every time. My weakness these days is skulled irons; over-and-over again, I hit good drives that I wasted with foozled approaches, but my shortgame covered up those faults. Mr Science did not show his normal driving control, but the wide greenbelts, especially where holes parallel each other mitigated that inconsistency, so he was able to scramble very effectively, except for his balky putting.
I foozled my drive, on the par 4 #18, but I still was confident of a 1putt par. My second shot, a 3wood worm-burner hit one of the little Cart-> signs they put across the fairway. "That's a moveable obstruction!" I cried, "Do-Over!"

"Where did you get that?" queried Mr Science.
"I've gotten a ruling on that before," I declared.
"Who from," he asked sarcastically, "Jean de Velde?"
"No!" I rejected, "from Scotty, my partner in Houston!"
"Harrumph", growled Mr Science, which he did wait until I'd hit again (A Proper 3wood high-hook) to vocalize . . . it didn't make any difference, it still took me 4 shots to hole out.
The North course is a very Old-Style Park course with large trees lining every fairway. From the first tee one realizes this is a different style of golf: you must work the ball left-to-right or you will be in ankle deep rough behind trees . . . Did I mention the rough before? . . . 8^D. . .

Unlike my fast start the day before, I just settled into a bogey rhythm I could not shake: I was always in the rough, off the green, missing the putts I made the day before. I finally made some pars on the back 9 to keep my score acceptable (to Me), but it was tough . . . this course is much more on the hill-side than the South course, and the elevation changes are that much more extreme. We labored under the threat of thunderstorms the whole round, there was a lot of wind, too, so with those conditions, the ankle deep rough, the old-growth trees on the fairway, and the bent grass greens, it was a trial.

It feels like giving short shrift to the course not to describe every hole, lots of interesting, memorable challenge here that brought out shots I just never have to hit on most courses in PHX.

on # 1 I had to hit a knockdown 7iron from the firstcut rough, under a tree, to an elevated green.
#2 is the first of the holes that climb straight up Antelope Hill (?) towards the old clubhouse.
#3 comes back down the hill, but it is a very long par 4. This was the first of my many lobs to the green that I tho't were very successful . . . from my days at Walden, I would count them successful if I didn't chunk the pitch or blade it over the green out of the deep-rough uneven lies -- I just couldn't make the putts.

#5 is a very awkward driving hole that really wants a hook, for there is out-of-bounds on the right, where the course borders the South course, but there is also water on the left and trees everywhere. It wound up both Mr Science & I were playing 2 balls, what with provisionals and confusion when we both used the same brand and the same identifying mark: I tho't I'd gone out of bounds and hit a 2nd into the fairway; Mr Science dropped a ball cuz he couldn't find his drive, then he did find it as he walked down the fairway, and hit that one, too (remember that ankle deep rough -- one HAS to make some allowances, mustn't one?), but then he confused my second ball with his first while I foozled a couple of safety shots with my first ball, and all the while the girls were rolling their peanuts down the fairway with toothpicks -- we finally had to stop and take stock.

"No," I corrected Mr Science (a rarity to be treasured!), THIS is your ball with the thin line; THAT is my ball with the THICK line (we both mark our balls with the Check-Go Pro that torques the ball till the balance point is found. Mr Science scientifically marks his ball with one thin line ("You can see it's still black while it's spinning if you do it right.") while I have several elliptoids artistically circumscribed so that some of mine look like cricket balls), if you see what I mean.
"Is this a redan hole" asked Mr Science as we tramped up the par 3 #6 . . . "I don't think so," I wheezed, "redans should be steeper and more heavily bunkered." 8^D

#7 looks straight on the card, and on the hole map at the tee, but really, it curls around the base of one of the Antelope Hills, fairway bordered by trees, with a kind of downhill swoosh to the right that is not quite a dogleg. All day long, Mr science shaped his shots correctly, including here, while I overcooked my left-to-right-smash, which caught a tree and fell straight down. Mr Science had no trouble putting his next shot 8 ft below the pin on the front of the green, just away from the bunker there. Meanwhile I had to hit a trick-shot 6iron out from underneath the tree from where the ball had settled between two clumps of sod in a hook lie: the ball wound up just off the green, a semi-straight uphill Texas wedge, I tho't, but I missed it, by a foot and a half to the right. Mrs Cactus then putted from just on the green on the same line, and missed to the right. But Mr Science still couldn't make his little 8 footer. It's really steep and subtly rightish.

#8 is a nothing little par 3, but I toed my iron into the big willow by the fetid water hazard, pitched up with one hand holding my nose, and 2 putted for a 5. Mr Science on the other hand softpeddled an 8 iron to the bottom of the steeply trapezoidal green. It was a shock to us all when he hold the 45 foot putt -- it must have broken 4 ft as it travelled up and across the green. Dead Center.

#9 is a long hard slog back up the hill. I had to have help twice to find my ball in the right rough. God I hate being so helpless and hapless . . . still almost parred it with a good lob out of the rough over the trap.

We had a long layover here at the turn due to the weather . . . after some dithering we trundled 4-to-the-cart back to the New clubhouse, had a drink, watched the weather, then went back out . . . it had taken 3 hours for the first 9 . . . so with the delay I didn't think we'd finish 18, but the back went much faster . . . I think the tournament cancelled . . . for sure there was nobody in front or in back of us . . .

#10 goes back down the hill, # 11 back up the hill . . . didn't matter to me, I double bogeyed both of 'em, missing the green, then hashing up the short game.

I would just say that #12 & 13 have more room to them than you can see from the tee . . . the water is imaginary on #13, especially.

#14 was a long downhill, downwind hole this day, from an exposed tee to a sheltered green, meaning protected by tall pines the way the pyranees protect France from Spain. Mr Science inexplicably blocked his 3iron off into the trees -- of all the bets I'd take, the surest one would be Mr Science with his 3iron off the tee. I hit a high 7wood that didn't hook a degree, and wound up pin high in the rough in the trees below the very elevated green. I lobbed up pin high on the green but 15 ft away, and failed to convert . . . Mr Science, meanwhile hit a knockdown pitch from 30 yds away in the trees with so much pace we all gasped until we saw the pro-spin grab hold and stop on the putting surface. I don't think he made his putt either tho' -- we shoulda given it to him after that shot . . .

#15 is reminiscent of #7, a 400 yd par 4 lined with trees curling around the base of the mountain, but the green is elevated up on the hill, rather than down/sidehill from the landing area on #7. Once again, Mr Science tailored his drive shape perfectly to the fairway; I, OTOH, hit my drive 25 yds past his ball, but thru the dogleg into the deep rough, even tho' the shot had had a trace-of-fade on it, just not enough. I complained to Mr Science, and he said, "yeah, that's the trouble with all this new equipment that self-corrects swing flaws, it makes it harder to move the ball!" A kind thing to say, but I noticed he usually doesn't have any trouble, if you know what I mean. So I had to hit another knockdown shot out of the rough and under the trees, but, after the years at Walden, I still have that shot . . . my half-a-5iron was left of the right pin placement, but up on the same back tier. Mr Science had pulled his shot w-a-a-a-a-y left of the pin, but it luckily didn't go in the big greenside bunker on the left. Unluckily, it went in the deep rough atop the bunker-hump next to the green: a terrible lie, but Mr Science placidly chunked it out of there on purpose way above the hole and just let the ball run around the bowl's edge down to the pin: he almost made it. Mr Science putts everything out, but he didn't even take tap-in care, it was that close. I must've not watched his line close enough because my 30 ft putt from the same side of the green wound up 12 ft below the hole, a god-awful putt. Without deliberation I smacked it back up the hill, straight into the hole to rescue my par.

I couldn't believe we didn't have more birdies on this course, and this is our ambition: to make 2 birdies a round, so #16 has birdie-opportunity all over it: a very short par 3. Mr Science hit his ball right over the pin, and it looked like a sure birdie, but my tired old legs didn't help me and I blocked my shot over the right corner of the green. The green looked so steep, I just wanted to flop the ball up onto the surface and let it release, but unlike every other flop shot that day that was at least usuable this ball flew all the way to the pin then rolled off back into the rough. Naturally then I had to chili-dip the comebacker and 2putt for another doublebogey par 3. Gaaaaaagh! Mr Science still had 10 ft of twisty downhill putt, rather than the kick-in it had looked from the tee, and it was all he could do to lag it close to the hole.

Possibly in irritation on #17, then, he pushed his drive over against the boundary wall . . . ordinary miscues like that don't usually bother Mr Science, and maybe HIS legs were getting a little tired, too, after 34 holes of golf and over 5 hours this day. He had a little swing room, but some tree trouble, so he hit a half-shot back into play, then laid up, playing for a one putt par, which he had a shot at, but did not make. My ball was only in the firstcut, but I had tree trouble that prevented me from using my trouble woods, which I do not slice confidently; so I pulled out my 3 iron and put the old medicus swing on it; dug it out pretty good, and hit it with a tidy little fade about 190 down the left side into the firstcut over there. I lobbed a good 3/4 sandwedge over the bunker to the elevated green, right at the hole, and left myself a very makeable uphill putt. Birdie.

I treasure strong finishes highly, almost as much as 2 birdies or breaking 90, and I felt like I should finish birdie-birdie. I see you rolling your eyes and hiding your smirks behind your hands. Ptthththththt. Pththththththth. Pthththththth.

I pulled my drive left into the rough, again, trying to hit it far enough to get down the hill -- that's a perplexing shot the first time around because it is not clear where the green is from the tee, so we were aiming at a gap in the trees -- from the middle of the fairway Mr Science came up short left in rough so deep the Teamsters prob'ly use it as retirement for past presidents. His normal short game failed him, and he wasn't able to get up and down. Meanwhile, I clouted a beeline 5iron straight at the pin, and wound up 24 feet below the hole, but I didn't make the birdie, dangit.
Wound up with another 86, showing shocking consistency for myself . . . Mr Science was much, much happier with his second round than his first, on a much harder course . . .
Saturday: Par 72, course rating 68.7 slope 115: 9 GIR, 86: long hcp 5, short hcp 25

Sunday: Par 71, course rating 70.8, slope 124: 5 GIR, 81: long hcp 14, short hcp 4.6

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