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Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Apache Stronghold

7219 Yds, Par 72, Slope 138, by Tom Doak

Mr Science Reports on a Road Trip:
The QOG and I played Apache Stronghold, finally. We both think it will be a great overnight trip for the group. She also wants Mrs. T, Cactus & Mrs Cactus to come and play in her foursome. (Good luck, Cactus!)

The course is not in great shape now, but the potential is obvious. The greens are bentgrass, like Troon North and Boulders, very soft, fast, and smooth except for a few blemishes due to harsh weather this summer. The fairways are Bermuda, which is just going dormant now. They haven't overseeded in the past, but have marked out the areas to do so this year. In September it should be in tip-top shape, though dormant Bermuda is very playable, just not green colored.

It's about 7 degrees cooler than the Valley. We started at 12:30 Saturday and 10:20 Sunday to avoid the morning chill I played in just a golf shirt (and long pants). The high was almost 60 both days.

The course has a lot of the characteristics of the mountain courses I like, like Stoneridge. The view from the back tee on 18 is fantastic. You can see forever in every direction. I played from 6500 yards, the Apache tees. The Chieftan's are 6077. There's Warrior tees at 7007 and the Stronghold tees at 7519.

The first hole is 661 from the tips, and it's not downhill at all, perhaps a tiny bit uphill near the green. Even on the holes that are not uphill or downhill, the fairways are anything but flat. Almost every hole has a wash running across it, and some of them are definitely a problem.

The par-3 17th is 198 from the Apache tees, and the first 175 is one huge unplayable lie, ending in a 20-foot high cliff.

On Saturday, I birdied the 18th. 432 yards from an elevated tee with a cross bunker in the middle of the fairway. I flew the cross bunker (250 yard carry), and had 102 to the center for my approach. Made a 12-footer for the bird. Holes like that are why mountain golf is fun for me.

The package deal is $155 now, but was $129 in the summer. That includes one motel room, two greens fees with carts, two dinners in the casino buffet, two lunches, two buckets of range balls, and two sleeves of logo balls.

We could play it twice
, like we did. Drive out in the morning, play in the afternoon, and then again the next morning and drive back. Or, we could play somewhere in the Southeast valley (maybe Las Sendas, or Gold Canyon) in the morning, drive in the afternoon and play the next morning. The drive is interesting too, through Queen Creek canyon, and the mining towns of Superior, Miami, and Globe. The Sleeping Beauty mine is in Globe, that's where all the QOG's turquoise jewelry is from.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Grande Valley Ranch

7183 Yds, Par 72, Slope 125, by Forrest Richardson.

"This'd better be worth it!" grumbled Mr Science as we trundled thru the grey dawn down I-10 halfway to Tucson. "We can't go any further south than this." And I had my doubts, myself, but it turned out fine.

I shot a 38 on the front 9, Mr Science, had a 36 with two missed 2footers. It's Monday afternoon, and he's STILL talking about those 2 2footers . . . I thot I was bad . . . 8^). . .

That front9 is not obviously easier than the back9, but the regulars we got paired up with seemed to think it was, and going by our scores, empirically, I'd have to agree. I ballooned up to a 47, even tho' I was driving well, and Mr Science inflated to a 42. . .

it musta been just fatigue, since we had walked the hilly Hillcrest the day before, finishing up at dusk. Then, instead of heading home to rest up, I tho't I'd introduce the Sciences to the joys of the Barrio Cafe -- it was sortof on the way back home from Sun City West to Scottsdale . . . 8^) . . . but you know there's always a long line there, so it took us an hour to get over there, then an hour waiting . . . had some margaritas, some guacomole-made-at-the-table con pommegramite seeds, some chocolate mole, and some churros . . . as we finished up the live music started up with a droll version of a flamenco Pachel Bel . . . thats all good, but it takes time, so we were late to bed, breaking training, if you see what I mean . . . 8^) . . .

. . . so even tho' we'd started out well, past the turn things went sour . . . on # 10, I sliced my drive out into the bare desert, scuffed my 2nd, let the 3rd shot fade off onto the mounds right of the green, made a good chip that didn't come all the way off the hill like I tho't it should, then missed a 4footer for bogey.

"You putt like me." said Mr Science, still smarting after his 2 2footers. Well that just put the hoodoo on me, doncha know . . .

On #11 all 4 of us chunked our pitch/chips off of the muddy, thin turf covered in coot leavings . . . the Calvinistic Mr Science refuses to accept excuses nor any comfort-in-misery: "My 3rd chip was fine!" he growled.

On the boil, I reckon, he lashed his drive into the large water hazard along the right side of the landing area -- SO large, that his drop was back by the ladies tee -- a severe loss of distance -- resulting in his second straight double-bogey. I drove well, but then struggled, and missed another 4footer for par on this my 3rd of 4 straight 6s.

Mr Science was boggled, and bungled his tee shot on the long down hill par 3 # 13, but he could find it. I was somewhat more, um, distraught, so I toed my 5 wood out into that same water hazard, from the other side. My 3rd shot was on the green, but on the wrong tier, for a 3 putt, including another missed 4footer.

I played the last 5 holes at 3 over -- nothing to write home about, but I was just glad to break my string of 6s! Mr Science obviously righted his ship, too. I don't know what it is about 10-13, but they bear examining.

#18 is a great finishing hole, or it will be whenever they actually get some water in the hazard. It's just a big hole now, and one of our foursome hooked his drive into it, but it was no trouble to hit back out of it, plus, he'd gotten a good roll in the hard pan. It's a bona-fide double dogleg of a sort you don't see often here in Arizona, with the water hazard you have to not-bite-off-more-than-you-can-chew on your first shot, then get up and around the corner on your second to have a good look at the uphill & elevated green.

These greens rolled really well most of the day for me, but we had some painful misses that, if we can't blame on the roll, only leaves the fatigue factor. The course has that unfinished look of incomplete landscaping off the fairway, and they are apparently planning to truck in some FEMA trailers or something along all the fairways , so I don't know how attractive all that will be, but between the OB stakes, a real-nice golf course; almost, almost worth the drive down . . .

so I'd have a look at the link for Forrest Richardson at the top. He's done some work on a bunch of good courses, notably Los Palomas down at Rocky Point.


Hillcrest, again

Played Hillcrest again -- mainly because it was cheap. It's a little long for our Mrss, at 5512, but there's not too much trouble out there. Made a 1:37 tee time. Finished at 5:38, with me & Mr Science walking . . . pretty good, but that'll be the last time this year where we can finish after teeing off at 1:30 pm . . .
The first time Mr Science played here, he thought it was a dog-track. The second time for him, I'd booked the tee-time and he expressed his lack-of-enthusiasm, but I said, "that interactive hole map" makes it look pretty good -- I think they've changed the graphics on it; it doesn't look nearly so interesting now -- so, with a little puzzlement he said, after our round, this doesn't seem so bad . . . so we were looking to see what happened this round.
I think the problem is that the front 9 is a little flat and ordinary -- it has only hints of what is to come on the back -- and you could lose your concentration -- just from the mind-numbing sameness of it all -- but the back 9 has real interest, so if you are still paying attention, it is very interesting . . . otherwise you would (I would) be liable to start making double-bogies and never know why.
3 or 4 of these holes climb up to the green on a hill so gradually elevated you might not notice it on that fairway, but from the adjoining fairway it is clearly very steep. Then #14 goes all the way back down on one par 3 . . . a long shot to a green that is backed up next to the water . . . all in all, with the meaningful-but-subtle changes in altitude and the discrete-but-emphatic use of water hazards, that back 9 verges on greatness. Excellent variety, challenge, & shot values.
Greens were still shaggy from overseeding, tho', making putting difficult . . .I had a 48-44=92; Mr Science, an even 90 . . .

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Sun City Willow Creek

6366 yds, Par 72, Slope119, by Greg Nash

Yeah, Ok, same as the other Sun City courses, indistinguishable . . .
what I do reckon is that a month ago, before they overseeded the Sun City courses that we played, MrScience & I were both threatening Par, with sub-par 9s, but now, with the furry greens, we are not . . . I honestly don't have a clue, and MrScience's putting stats are 25% higher than normal. I wound up with an 85; MrScience, an 80, with one birdie. I don't remember anything about his birdie, except that it was one where he got it within 8 ft, and made it . . . I know I had a couple of birdie putts that long and missed them both . . . he had a couple more- at least - makeables that he missed, some within 3 ft.

And I don't know about MrScience, but now I feel much less charitable towards these rather non-descript courses that use furry greens and fairways as their defense, rather than artful, intriguing, challenging designs. So it plays 200 - maybe 300 - yds longer than it's posted distance . . .

On this course, that didn't make any difference, except on #9 7& #18, which are each-and-both 420+ yard par 4s, playing, as I say, 440 or 450.

Well, let me start with #17 first (we started from #10). Sometime in the round, I started rocketing my tee-shots, high and straight, like I usta do with plastic golf balls in my backyard back in Texas as a kid: hit a million of 'em, exactly the same, and that's what I'm trying to get back to, with my unorthodoxies, is to the way I played naturally, with all its faults before I ever read a golf magazine . . . or took swing advice from some club salesman . . . anyway . . . after that shot, right in the middle of the fairway, 250 or 260 yds, with no roll, with the wind, leaving a wedge to the green, which I also hit high and straight, but it lands soft of course, downhill from the back pin, 25 ft away, which I 3putt. Grrr-Grrr-Grrrrrrrrrrr.

So, on #18, I mis-apply my red-ass and pull-hook my drive over behind some trees. I had a filthy lie over there, with a hook-lie from the back of a mound, when I needed to slice it around the trees to get back at the green, and OB with houses all down the way, of course. But I did manage to chunk my 3iron a slice around the trees and it got a little roll -- musta hit a hard spot -- so that it wound up 10 yds short of the green -- a good leave. But even tho' I spent the whole time before we teed off practicing chipping & pitching I bladed my approach 22 ft past the hole. I hadn't read a putt right all day, so I don't claim skill for it, but I did make that come-backer . . . it was so unexpected, MrScience exclaimed, "Good Putt!" It musta been . . .

On the front9, I went back into my calm thrashing play, lashing drives to wedge distance, then making a 3putt bogey: I started out with 4 straight 5s; one of those WAS a par 5, but I was hitting the ball so well, it was just like another par4 3putt bogey, if you see what I mean.

On the par3 #5 we joined up with a 2some infront of us . . . we might as well, there were 5somes ahead of us, and play was starting to back up a little. But disoriented by this common courtesy, I mis-hit one ball into the water on the right -- first ball I've lost in Sun City -- then jerked my reload left into somebody's yard. I pitched up on the green and 3putted with one hand.

On the way to the next tee, I told Mr Science, ""I'm only taking a 6 on that hole, using the gentile scoring rules of Mr Science!"

He laughed and said, "I think 6 is all you can take with your handicap, anyway!"

I guess it was on #18 (our #9) where Mr Science had methodically paced off his distance, measured the wind, and made all his other algebraic adjustments for a hilltop lie in the rough, then come up 50 yds short of the green: he'd used the 200 yd post as the 150 post in his calculations . . . 8^D . . . he promptly dropped another ball and pasted it just short of the green, in a typical MrScience leave for a front pin. Natcherly, he chipped up to kickin distance for a par. "I just don't know how you're going to score that", I complained.

"I'm not responsible for the caddy's errors!" MrScience declared equitably . . . 8^D. . .

So, comforted by my forgiving nature to myself, I resolved to finish strong, and still break 40. I did manage to par 3 of the last 4, but I was never close to a birdie . . . on the 501 yd par 5 # 7, I tomahawked my drive down the left side, under the large tree that guards the inside of the dogleg . . . only 250 with 30 yds roll, I bet, but on a typical shorthair course, it woulda been close to 300 . . . I spanked a 3 wood up 10yds short of the green, and managed my par from there.

"If we're going to have a short par 5, why can't it be with the wind, today", I asked rhetorically.

"Is that the way you'd design it?" asked the puckish Mr Science.

"It would be today," I said, "I need an eagle to make up for that par 3!"

So, on #9, I felt like I'd hit it solid, down the middle, but I still had 190 to the green. My 5 wood bled right on me, and I wound with a large bunker between me and the green. I picked this time to hit my one good pitch shot all day, a pop-up-lob that just cleared the trap, kicked forward off the hump in the fringe, to kick in distance from the hole.

So, I guess you could say I sorta liked those two finishing holes, long as they were sorta kept me interested, but I shoulda gotten birdie chances out of 'em, the way I was hitting the ball, so I still feel a little put out about the whole deal, if you see what I mean.

Still for those SC courses, the price is right, they're easy walks, and it's fun to have the chance to go-low, if you see what I mean.

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