Thursday, August 23, 2007
The signature hole is the par 3 15th, 170 yards from an elevated tee. 120 feet elevated.
I'm always amazed at how big things are here in the West. We stopped at a scenic lookout on the way up and took a few pictures there. You can see a canyon at the bottom of the valley, that's where the Colorado River runs after it leaves Lake Powell. Nice view and all, but like that commercial where the woman picks up the wolf and drops it into the canoe, if you could pick up semis and drop them into that nice little canyon, how many would it take to fill it up? And that one doesn't even have a name. How big is the Grand Canyon?
We took a boat trip up Antelope Canyon, and got a picture of the dam from the water. The white stuff on the rocks is calcium carbonate, which has precipitated out of the water and shows how high it once was. In 1983, the park service judged that the snowfall and runoff would be about normal, so they kept all the lakes on the Colorado nearly full. Then May and June were the wettest ever, and all the dams overflowed, causing lots of flooding downstream. Now, the water level is 95 feet below the full line. So, the white part of those rocks is 95 feet high. The lake is still about 500 feet deep, and the reservoir is 50% full.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Monday, August 06, 2007
6912 Yds, Par 71, Slope 138, by Coore & Crenshaw
Coore and Crenshaw are the design team behind such highly touted courses as Bandon Trails in Bandon, Oregon, Sand Hills in Mullen, Nebraska, Friar's Head in Baiting Hollow, New York and the Golf Club at Cuscowilla in Eatonton, Georgia.
"This piece of land has some very interesting natural movement to it," said Crenshaw of the new We-Ko-Pa course. "I think this golf course will be pretty unique for the desert. People will be induced to play different shots and find solutions to new challenges when playing this course.""
I tried to sling my drive around the corner on the manageable par 4 #3, but still wound up 155 yds away in the fringe on the left, with a wide-open look at the pin between those two bunkers . . . still went into the right bunker with a weak 7iron. Tap-in Bogey.
The par 3s on this course are largely breathers -- the #18, #17, #15, & #10 handicapped holes -- entirely necessary since even the short par 4s are usually steeply uphill, ridge-backed, and strategically bunkered. Not pushovers, necessarily, but the three par3s I hit in regulation I parred easily.
It'd be an interesting point of discussion as to why the par5 #8 is the #7 handicap hole when the par5 #4 hole is the #1. I hit my drive into the target circle they draw on the yardage book, up in that narrow neck of the fairway, but my 2nd shot, a beeline 4iron down the middle of the fairway bounced left into the fringe next to that little fairway bunker on the left . . .this was to be my first experience of several this day, standing awkwardly on the edge of a bunker trying to hit an approach to these uphill, blind-shot greens. In this case, I guarded too much against a jerk-left and flared it right, almost in the trap. Bogey.
At the turn we had to wait a while for the group in front of us . . . they must have dashed over to the main clubhouse for refreshments . . . there is a halfway house right there between #9 & #10, but it was not open . . . but let me say: that will be the most opulent snack shack in the history of golf when it is open . . . better than many course's club house: large clean restrooms, a bar with stools, chairs and tables, inside & out, a putting green, and architecture that matches the main clubhouse.
Possibly, tho', the delay that afforded me the time to examine this awe-inspiring edifice threw off my timing on #10 . . . I hit two balls into the desert, then chunked into that little pot bunker cut like a slice of pie out of the green. I was up in the pointy end of the bunker with no stance and hardly room to swing a cat, much less a golf club, I was grateful for the snowman.
That waste area on the right looks much larger and the fairway landing area looks much smaller from the tee than this illustration. The change in elevation is only 30 or 40 ft, but I found it very disorienting . . . this is one of the few holes I knew I could do better on, given a second chance. . .
#12 is a long par4 nearly 500 yds long -- at least it's relatively flat -- with an outsized green, the 2nd largest on the course. These are all large greens but this one makes 3putts seem the norm . . . I suppose someone that could reach the green in two would be grateful for the large green, but I hooked just off into the desert behind a tree, trying to muscle-up, then bollixed my 5iron safety shot trying to get too much out of it. Unable to see what I was hitting up I just laid up right of the the trap with a 5iron then tried to wedge up close enough for a 1putt bogey. No such luck.
#13 shows more typically what one sees from the tees on many of these holes: the hog-back fairway with rounded shoulders that pushes even good shots off into the desert. Not Fair. Once again I hit my mark, just left of the little pot bunker in the middle of the fairway . . .I had just over 200 yds left, but I hit my 3wood instead of my 5wood, a line-drive that skipped just past the greenside bunker on the front all the way over the green. I had a simple downhill chip back down to the pin, but my distance control on these huge greens was flummoxed. The greens were fast enough to be very careful with, with breaks made subtle by the size of the green. Bogey.
I don't know if that right side of the split fairway on #14 is usable or not . . . all 4 of us decided to go left instead . . . it didn't seem like that hard of a choice. . . I could be wrong, I guess, since my blind 2nd shot 4 iron wound up on the edge of a bunker again, leaving me with another awkward stance, and a blown par opportunity -- I don't call them birdie opportunities anymore, it just didn't seem that likely, when I kept hitting goods shots into trouble. A bogey, but only with grinding effort after a bad approach.
The par3 #15 is the only one I didn't par . . . my 3wood came up a little thin and short, so the fairway pushed it over into the heavy rough between that giant grap and the fairway . . . I had to stand in the trap and take a baseball swing . . . not a baseball-like swing, a totally flat and level swing . . . smothered it right into the trap, chunked it up onto the green, 3putted for a 6 -- THIS is the largest green on the course, and you can see it perfectly well from the elevated tee, but it still looks scary because of the way the whole hole slopes right to left . . . I was so sure I was just going to glide my 3wood onto the right edge and have a birdie chance -- er, uh, par . . .
The par4 #16 plays as the #14 handicap hole. "Finally! A breather!" I tho't, and confidently hit my 3wood up to the left side of the fairway, since there were no bunkers over there . . . but my 9iron caromed off that tier in the middle of the green and rolled off into the tall rough between the green and the bunker on the right. Another awkward lie, shortsiding the pin. Should still have been an easy par, but I bogeyed. WIth a shrug of defeat I turned to watch Mrs Cactus try for par. . . She'd hit 3 straight shots up the right side (even tho' she was aiming left, away from the traps) and wound up pin high, 6 ft away . . . sure enough she rolled it right in the heart. She was pleased, and I am awestruck by her rapid progress, but I don't think she realizes yet what an awesome par it was . . . some of those holes had beat her up pretty well (on #4 she had a 12, on #14 a 13), but she had a good 4 on the long par 3 and this par, back-to-back.
On #18 I finally hit a great drive . . . I'd hit good drives all day, but most with a tad too much hook, rather than a tame draw, and a lower-than-I-like tragectory, which meant the mud took all the steam out of 'em, but this one flew high and long, leaving me only 200 yds to the pin . . . Since my last 3wood had gone over the green I went to my 5wood, but this hole is more uphill and I came up short . . . just as well, since it didn't draw for me and stopped just short of the bunker on the right. Another lob 20 ft short of the pin, another tapin bogey.
A great course, long and unrelenting in its challenges, surrounded by awesome desert scenery, in lush condition (tho' there were a lot of bare spots on this summer day), with large fast greens that roll true.
Wound up with a 45-50=96 -- no birdies, and just the blow-ups on #10 and #15 . . . I gotta believe in drier conditions I'd do better, but OTOH, I might do worse . . .
Very much like the North Course, only MoreSo, if you see what I mean . . . nondescriptively harder than the North Course, enough that I had wound up with a 44-43=87 with no birdies (lots of missed chances) and Mr Science wound up with a 79 and 1 birdie, measurably worse than our North Course Scores, but not much.
I'm hard pressed to remember a hole . . . there was a par 5 with a treacherous green, where the whole back was tiered abruptly lower . . . Mr Science had placed his 3rd short of the hole -- a good shot we tho't, till we got up on the green and saw that he was on an elevated tongue that jutted from the front of the green into that back lower tier . . . intimidating if you knew about it, but devastating if you discovered it by seeing your ball past the pin, off the back of the green . . .
#15 is another hole where prior experience would help . . . a short par 4 with water on 3 sides of the green. Mr Science laid up with a 3wood, while I brazenly went for broke. He left himself only a half-wedge to the green, but mirable dictu, I wound up at the base of the elevated green complex, unexpectedly dry when I tho't I'd pulled my drive into the water. That green is tuff to hit. . . Mr Science's ball ran thru the green almost into trouble and my 2nd, a 7iron chip intended to fall back to the pin from a hump on the left seemed to break up hill and run off into the fringe on the right. I just lagged my birdie effort towards the pin, grateful to have it stop in gimme distance.
For some reason, I double bogeyed both #9 & #18, for no good reason at all -- I honestly feel like that's 4 strokes on my score right there, but then again, I can't visualize either hole . . .