.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Lake Powell

7030 Yds, Slope 145, Par 72, by Phillips Assoc.

Mr & Mrs Science went to Lake Powell for a few days:

The signature hole is the par 3 15th, 170 yards from an elevated tee. 120 feet elevated.

We didn't take those two pictures, they're from a web site I found http://www.golfcoursepics.com/southwest/southwest.html There are some others of our courses there, too. You'll recognize the Boulders, Gold Canyon, and Sedona. We forgot the camera on the first day, then got rained out on the 2nd. So, we have to go back.

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



6758 Yds, Par 72, Slope 121, by Forrest Richardson
They Say: "Welcome to Coldwater Springs Golf Club in Phoenix, Arizona, here we have shaped large features that go well beyond your run-of-the-mill mound or hill. The result is a combination of spectacular elevated tees, deep swales and cascading fairways. Only in North Scottsdale, or some of the Valley's foothill courses, can you find such rolling terrain and dramatic, undulating golf holes. What's more, the setting is framed by mountain views, native grasses, meandering washes, and two placid lakes."

We played Coldwater months-and-months ago . . . one of those courses so un-memorable that we wound up playing it twice . . . except for this hole, with a huge sand trap bordered unusually with railroad ties . . . don't particularly care for it, but there it is . . . the fairway's interesting, too. . . the right side is ordinary, but the left side is a giant swale with irregular edges, fluted, like a giant pie crust, which can make for an challenging approach to the green -- did for me, anyway . . .
Note that Forrest Richardson also did Phantom Horse, which was formerly The Pointe at South Mountain.


San Marcos

6856 Yds, Par 72, Slope 121, by Bill Robinson
They Say: "Not your typical desert, target-golf course, this lush, green setting makes players from throughout the country feel right at home while giving desert dwellers an enjoyable reprieve from some of the harsher desert layouts. The course is fair and rather straightforward by nature, but don't approach it with complacency- plenty of trouble awaits as each hole provides an average of three bunkers. The toughest holes on the course happen to be the two longest par 4s-Number 4, at 482 yards, and Number 10, at 454 yards. And, though not abundant, water lurks on several holes, including a lake that comes into view on Number 8 and another that comes into play on Number 13. The canal that runs across the 1st, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 18th holes can jump up and ruin a good round"
"Not your typical desert, target-golf course" is sort of an understatement . . . a flat, park-style, Old Phoenix style golf course, so old, that it seems like it's bursting at the seams in places, trying to accommodate modern golfer length . . . like on the tee for the par 3 #13, which juts back out in front of #9(?) tee . . . definitely a congestion point there . . . seemed like I was always banging an elbow, so to speak, due to the cramped layout of the course.
Could just be sour grapes of course, since I took a 5 on that par 3 after hitting a tree that stood 20 yards in front of, but 10 yds left of, the tee . . . I still don't think it was that bad of a shot, but it caromed into the water for an instant double bogey. But Mrs Cactus, unperturbed, almost aced the same hole . . . her t-shot had a low tragectory, and she shouted at it, "Get over! Get over!", which it did, then bounced high off the slope between the green and the water, then rolled inexorably toward the hole, so we were all shouting at it, "Get in the hole!" . . . but it banged the pin so hard we could hear it, about 6 ft away . . . she barely missed the birdie.
I think, even when it was new, that this was an unusual layout: the 4 par 5s average only 485 yds; there are 2 par 3s 210+ yds, 2 150; there are some par 4s longer than the par 5s . . . I think they have lengthened the course where they could over the years, without regard to how it affected the layout. . .
I was kind of amazed at the first hole, with a giant swale in the rough inside the dogleg and separating the green-approach from the driving landing area, but that's the only hole with such an interesting feature.
I wound up with a 45-45=90, I just hit too erratically and putted too poorly to really score on this easy course . . . I started out with 3 strainght missed-birdie pars, and that might have over-excited me. I missed makeable birdie putts on both the 215 yd long par 3s after hitting sterling half-3woods, but then I floundered around on the 4 par 5s, 5 over.
Mrs Cactus faulted the course as too much like the old course at Antelope Hills in Prescott: both are park-style with long,long rough, funky greens, fetid water holes, but mainly poor accommodation for the women, which tees are placed way back near the men . . . that ditch running thru the course is not too attractive, neither.
Another thing, was, it was stinking hot, even tho we teed off at 6:50, and finished by 10:30 . . . can't blame the course for that, of course, but it might have affected our scoring.


Mountain Brook

6620 Yds, Par 71, Slope 120, by Brian Whitcomb

They Say: "Golfers are sure to enjoy the variety of holes at the course at MountainBrook Golf Club as well as the white crushed marble sand in bunkers, undulating greens, and beautiful views. You will also be pleased to know that we offer a six acre world class, custom practice facility. Dramatic views of the desert hills and massive Superstition Mountains frame the course and clubhouse. A modern desert mountain golf course design, MountainBrook also features a full-service clubhouse and restaurant. We encourage group play, league golf, corporate golf outings, and numerous tournament events."

We played here on an incredible deal: a free round on your birthday -- both Mr Science & I -- we sorta had to resort to subterfuge to get us both into the same 4some with free rounds, but we felt it did not violate our Calvinistic Golf Principles, at all.

We were a little excited about the course, designed by Whitcomb, as I have dubbed him "a genious of affordable, fun golf", based on the back 9s at the 500 Club and Johnson Ranch . . . in some ways I think his courses are too easy, but OTOH, it might be the interest he instills in his shot values keeps me focussed and my attention doesn't wander, leading to dropped shots . . . ya think? . . . indeed, I shot 39-45=84, with no birdies, while Mr Science carded 36-44=80 with 2 birdies. Even tho' I was expecting the back9 to be more interesting than the front9, I didn't expect we would both shoot higher, so maybe it was harder, too. Mr Science blames most of his scoring bloat on unseen hazards, like a water hazard hidden in the inside of a dogleg at just the right distance.

That was an interesting stretch there . . . #11, 12, & 13, where Mr Science claimed he set a personal best for most holes-in-a-row-in-the-water . . . 8^D. . . the aforementioned invisible hazard on #11, followed by a blocked iron tee shot on #12 into the water, followed by a pulled line drive on #13 that smacked of irritation, if I didn't know Mr Science so well -- nothing bothers him, usually . . .

I was 3 over on the par 5s, mostly due to a very poor short game and indifferent putting; and 2over on the par 3s. I just kept missing my putts by a smidge, as measured by the QOG.

#8 especially, on the front9, was a very interesting hole, with large mounds that intruded into the fairway from the side to block our view of the fairway & green . . . there's not too much elevation change in the layout, but there is enough to provide variety & interest, and I think the whole 18, not just a 9, is very well done.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Los Caballeros Wickenburg

7014 Yds, Par 72, Slope 135, by Nash & Hardin

They Say: "Constructed in 1979 by Greg Nash and Jeff Hardin, this masterpiece of design features rolling terrain, two beautiful lakes, strategically placed bunkers and 4 sets of tees that allow the course to be setup for a wide variety of playing levels."

It has to be said that it's good that Wickenburg is so close to Phoenix: the Golf is good, but not so good that one would travel much further for it, unless there was something else to do in Wickenburg, but there is not: compared to say, Precott or Jerome . . . if you see what I mean . . .
The course looks like one of Nash's Sun City courses, except that the native terrain is much, much, much more hilly; there's not a bad hole on the course, and they have the nicest bent grass greens one could hope for -- even at 2200 ft elevation, tho, I don't understand why they don't have to have fans cooling the greens . . . it still gets hot up there in summer. The only thing I wanted to complain about was the turf: black gooey stuff, not sandy at all, that stuck in your grooves, because the course was so wet from watering . . . been there since 1979, so I guess they know what they're doing, but I hate that gumbo -- gets between my toes, too, cuz I wear golf sandals.

There's pretty impressive scenery available, in every direction, and some of the tees are such promontories that the view over the lush velvet fairway leading off towards some purple mountain in the distance are just awesome. Maybe that's what distracted me . . . shor 44-51=95. I was one over on the 4 par 3s, but 9 over on the 4 par 5s, which conclusively tells me I would score better next since I would probably par all the 3s and 5s next time, saving 10 strokes right there . . . 8^D . . .

The first par 5 double-bogey (#5) was a virtual par . . . The severe downhill, dog-legged, blind landing area hidden by trees freaked me out and I pulled my first shot OB, then hooked the second one into the rough behind some trees . . . I hit 5 iron 2nd to get out over the trees, then a 7 iron up the huge rise to the elevated green, 135 yds, then a 2 putt.

On the second par 5 double-bogey (#7), I sprayed my drive right under a bushy tree and had to hit it sorta sideways back into the fairway; from there, tho' I knew how far it was to the water, I wasn't sure how far it to get over the water, so I laid up, playing for the 1putt-par; I hit a good wedge 20 ft right of the pin on the left, at the base of a tier-slope that runs diagonally thru; I scuffed the putter toe on that slope on my stroke, leaving me short-and-right 4 ft; 2 more putts . . . 8^( . . .

On the third par 5 double-bogey(#13), I hit a good drive into the fairway, but on a severe downhill lie; tried to hit a 4iron, but that didn't get me over the trees on the left, so I still had 200 yds over another huge dip in the fairway to an elevated green; hit a fat 5iron to the bottom of the hill, then a thin 9 iron to the back of the green, 3putt.

On the par 5 triple bogey (#18), I hooked one out of bounds on the left, foozled a couple of times, then took 4 to get down from 30 yds off the green -- that hole ain't that hard . . .

Retelling this, I see that my irons were the strong point this day, even tho' it always seemed like I was 30 ft away for my first putt. My drives varied from barely acceptable to great, but they seemed short, too -- like on #11, I still had 100 yds for my second, even tho' it's a short down hill par 4 . . .caught the front bunker with my wedge, wound up with a 6, for no reason I could reckon -- but I had no idea which way they were going to go, if they drew, they hooked; faded, they sliced, but due to the wide-wide greenbelts, I never was in the desert.
Mebbe the reason I bogeyed par3 #3 hole was the Gila Monster we saw up by the green; first one we'd seen in life, we had to stop and watch it for a minute before we putted, even tho' the 4some behind was pressing hard . . . we played in 3 1/2 hours.
We stopped for lunch in the clubhouse after our round -- I guess the cuisine is good, even if it's a little pretentious for a golf course -- resort like, if you like -- but they had a little sign on a stand they put on my table, letting me know I needed to take my golf hat off. Pthththththththth.


Toka Stick

6683 Yds, Par 72, Slope 119

Someone Says: "This old course, which was previously named Williams Golf Course, has nine holes that were originally built around 1945 by the Corps of Engineers as part of the Air Force base. The course was redone and another nine holes were added around 1960. The Air Force base is now closed, but the course is open to the public. There are large trees around the course, and two lakes come into play on several holes. The bermuda greens are elevated and considered by locals to be as fast as you will find anywhere."
If I tell you that the photo above is the #2 hole, the #1 handicap hole, you will know everything you need to know about the course . . . does not compare favorably to the Falcon Course, which has a similar history.

Monday, August 06, 2007


WeKoPa Saguaro

6912 Yds, Par 71, Slope 138, by Coore & Crenshaw

They Say: "Saguaro, which opened December 16, 2006, is a desert golf experience unlike any other. Integrating design elements not commonly found in the desert, the course is built for walking and has more in common with older, more traditional courses where greens are close to tees and the course follows the natural movement of the land.
To assist those choosing to walk, battery powered Speedcarts are available to transport your clubs.
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.""

Definitely, another candidate for Best In the Valley of the Sun. Imagine the very linksy Talking Stick courses laid down on rollicking hills, instead: huge greens which sizes dwarfed the contours of the greens, making them very difficult for me to read; threatening saddlebacked fairways (turned narrow-ways to repel shots, rather than wide-ways to funnel shots back to the fairway); hugely uphill fairways terminating in elevated greens; blind 2nd shots on par 5s; long, long carries over the trash; huge link-style bunkers, tiny pot bunkers, fiendishly placed in the fairways and greenside.

I hit a great drive on #1, but when I got to my ball I realized it was still 240 yds away: my drive had ploughed right into the steep uphill landing area, wet with last nights rains, and just stopped. My 3wood came off a little thin and caught that bunker on the left, just past the arroyo. I managed to hit a half-wedge out the trap which lip loomed over my head to the back of an even more uphill green, for a 3putt double-bogey. I knew then I was in trouble. I need that roll . . . hardest opening hole I ever saw . . .
Thus hoodooed I fungoed the short par 4 #2 for another double bogey -- some of it might have been the pre-7am tee-time . . . dunno . . .

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 . . .


Granite Falls South

6839 Yds, par 72, Slope 122, by Greg Nash & Billy Caspar

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 . . .

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?