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Monday, July 16, 2007


WeKoPa Cholla

7225 Yds, Par 72, Slope 136, by Scott Miller


They Say: "Open since December 2001, the Cholla Course at We-Ko-Pa has garnered countless honors and has quickly become recognized as the reference course for quintessential desert golf. Designed by Scott Miller, this 7,225 yard layout was named by Sports Illustrated as one of the 10 best new public courses in the world shortly after its debut. Since then, Zagat Survey 2006-2007 gives Cholla its highest rating among all Arizona courses and Golfweek ranks the layout #2 on its 2006 list of the state’s best public courses."

Mr Science's favorite course . . . his #1 of #1s, if you see what I mean . . . Miller is no Jones, nor no Cavanaugh, but the Kierland & Eagle Mountain are pretty fine credentials, aside from We-ko-pa, itself . . . .We-Ko-Pa means 4 peaks, which is the natural landmark that can be seen from most holes on the course. The manmade landmark that can be seen from the front 9 is the Fountains Hills Fountain that goes off every hour on the hour . . .

#1 is a short downhill par 4, made intentionally "easy" as in a judo strategy, kuzushi, to take the golfer off-balance, "A Piece of Cake" he thinks, walking off the green, even after chunking two pitches and missing a putt.

#2 continues the "set up" with a wide-open driving area for the par 5, but the second shot takes some local knowledge to correctly club, because of those traps crossing the whole fairway, 90 yds short of the green. "Well! That's two birdies I let get away from me!" I said to myself -- nevermind that I got bogeys, instead.

#3 is a testy par 3, where, if you hit the green you could be forgiven for thinking it a breather hole; if OTOH, you fall short in the desert as did the 4some in front of us, you might think it was the killing blow. Mrs Cactus popped up her hybrid, and squealed with disgust . . . but it landed a yard from mine and stopped dead. "OH!" she said. . . . but then she putted off the green from 32 ft -- a forgiveable offense, I say, since these greens were twice as fast as the greens yesterday at Wigwam Gold . . . not more difficult in structure, nor less, but much better condition.

There were several fairways that were fenced off, cartpath-only, but on most we could follow the 90 degree rule . . . those that were fenced off looked in very bad shape, as if they were losing the grass there, even tho' water was plentiful . . . I don't know if it's a seasonal thing, or if the groundskeeper made a boo-boo.

#6 looks like a daunting shot, but with a yardage book I had the confidence and knowledge to navigate the landing easily. Another missed birdie putt from 30 ft, but unlike at Wigwam Gold, I was able to make a few of the comebackers -- something I attribute to the greens themselves, rather than any improvement I made . . .

#7 is a puzzler. I didn't remember this hole from before, but based on this game, I would say that the shot was to the left side, even tho' the right side of the island mound looks wider . . . the wind was left-to-right this day, and it just blew my ball out into the desert right . . . totally dead . . . very rugged territory. That green seems longer and thinner than it looks here.

#8 is another hole tough to figger your first time thru . . . even with the yardage book, I underclubbed my second shot and wound up too high up on the hill, with only half-a-look at the green and a 4iron in my hand . . . I hit a good shot, but the intimidating expanse of waste area made me bail-out at the last second, short of the green on the right. . . tough to get up and down from there. . . .that false front to the green is steeper than it looks.

#9 takes luck or prodigious skill to get into position to reach the green in two . . . it IS downhill . . . but the presentation is very daunting . . . Then I was so glad to have only a 9 iron downhill, downwind to the green I jerked it left into the swale left of the green. Unable to get up and down. Just like yesterday at Wigwam. . . .

#10 looks impossible from the tee, that mound in the middle is huge. I think my pop-up drive hit a rock in the middle of it and bounced clear, toward the green . . . woo-hoo! My 3wood betrayed me for 3rd time on the 3rd straight par 5, leaving me with another 50 ft birdie putt / 3 putt bogey. 2Putting 50 ft down to the lower tier on a fast green is not guaranteed, no matter how well the ball is rolling.

Got a double bogey on #11 when my tee shot went into the deep greenside bunker on the right . . . Had a birdie-lipout putt on #12 . . . not a hard hole, which I played perfectly, but that drive looks a little iffy from the tee. Chunked my 7iron approach from a downhill like on #13, bogeying what ought to have been another birdie attempt . . . flared an 8iron shot on the very-downhill #14 par 3 . . . what a goofball.

#15 is a driveable par 4 . . . I waited for the 4some to hole out and get off before I hit . . . pushed it right into the second trap on the right . . . it mighta got close otherwise. Made a good shot over the looming lip short of the green -- what I call the Mr Science Leave . . . straight uphill to the pin . . . chipped with my 7iron up by the pin for a tapin par . . . ok . . . good ROI . . . While we were putting the group behind us hit . . . one ball came up 20 yards short . . . I pointed to my wife and said that I tho't that was where I'd'a wound up . . . as we left the green, we heard a faint "Fore" so we ducked and covered . . . a ball landed right behind us. Such murderous tho'ts come to one at such a time . . . only on a muni in Texas would one ever experience such rudeness and cavalier lack-of-safety as is apparently common in Arizona. Since it hadn't actually hit us, I just waved imprecations back to the tee and left.

Disoriented by the thoughtless thuggery, I finished 6-6-5, hitting good shots but not playing well, if you see what I mean, for a 46-45=91. Of course my 3wood betrayed twice more, on 17 & 18. We couldn't hurry any more, because we were sandwiched between 4somes -- all the more perplexing the haste of those behind us . . . Mrs Cactus was rushing her putts, I could tell . . . "I'm afraid they'll hit into us again!" she said. "Naaaah," I tried to comfort her, "they wouldn't dare." But I was not so sanguine as I tried to appear. I find it hard to over-estimate the idiocy of Arizona Golfers, based on my experiences here . . . I might excuse it -- to some degree -- as the result of dehydration and heat exhaustion, but then, OTOH. #@@@@! you! You #@@@! #@@@@@@@! #@@@@!

or as they say in the Queen of Golf's Winter League: "#5 & #15, you #55!"

Easily, and undeniably, a contender for the Best Course in the Valley . . . possibly as a consolation prize we could give it the best 36 hole resort award, nosing out Whirlwind & Gold Canyon . . . not a bad or boring hole on the course.

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