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Thursday, January 31, 2008


Stone Creek

6,872 Yds, Par 72, Slope 125 by Arthur Hills

They Say: "Designed by renowned architects Arthur Hills & Associates, this traditional links- style layout was named for the stone “creek” hazard that comes into play on nearly every hole. Featuring beautiful rolling fairways and elevated greens, Stonecreek Golf Club offers a challenging yet fair golf experience for all players."

We'd played here a couple of years ago . . . the only thing I really remembered about it was going over to Voodoo Daddy's afterwards for some cajun . . . but as we replayed, I recollected several holes, the ones that verge dangerously out of the Arthur Hills trademark subtlety into Pete Dye-like flummoxory.

I don't know what it is, 'zactly, probably the simplest answer is that I'm hitting the ball so well from the tee with my driver that it's got me overswinging with all my irons, for I cannot hit even a wedge with confidence anymore -- keep blading them into oblivion . . . very frustrating to have a half-wedge left to a par 4 and to blade it. Like on #1: I totally mascerated the drive, high and straight, so that the water on the inside of the dogleg didn't even enter my vision, much less my shot angle, but I bladed the ball, straight at the pin, over the green, but not into the water on the other side. I burned the cup-edge with my 7iron chip and made the come-backer, but the damage was done . . . I couldn't even hit an iron off a tee the rest of the day . . .

On #4, it wasn't clear to me which way the hole went, especially after one of our group hooked is drive over the traps that block the left side of the dogleg right.

"Do we have to go over those?" I asked, after MrScience hit his at the traps, too.

"No," I was told, the hole bends around those trees, so you can go further right, if you can without going into Stone Creek!"

"What're you talking about?" jawed Mr Science, "I'm in the middle of the fairway, less than 150 yds from the green!"

I was hitting last after taking a double bogey on #2 when my drive went into Stone Creek on the first bounce -- the wind was behind me, but that was 280, easy -- so I had some West Texas Red Ass on my drive that almost cut the corner, but stayed away from the dry creek . . . "That," I told Mr Science, "is the MIDDLE of the fairway!"

But of course, he hit his 8iron onto the front of the green for an easy 2putt, while I shanked my half-wedge into the creek, then missed the green, then 3putted.

So it went for Cactus, although from then on, if I concentrated on my wedges like it was algebra, I could hit some sort of shot, anything longer was very chancy.

#11 was one of the holes I remembered. The creek cuts across the fairway in front of the green after running down the right side all the way from the tee. Somehow it looks like you need to baby that shot a little bit, but I think there's plenty of room, especially when I popped up my drive on the right rough so that it wasn't any further along than anybody else's. I had to hit a 6iron, in which I had no confidence, but I managed to get it up like a real golf shot, left of the pin onto the froghair of that very elevated green. I remembered that huge, deep bunker on the right from before and didn't want any part of it. There were some valve-covers between me and the cup, so I asked Mr Science about a drop.

"No way!" he said, "Play it as it lays!" But I remembered a discussion on TVGolf at some tournament where some pro had not taken a drop in such a situation, when the rules allowed it, so I gave myself a drop, anyway, much to Mr Science's disgust. Was still a 2putt. \

Long story short, it turns out that that's a potential local rule supported by the USGA but not necessarily recommended, if you see what I mean. Apparently the pros however get it everyweek, but no course we've played since then has that local rule . . . 8^/. . . it's just as well . . . I can do as well putting with my 7iron to loft the ball over the valve covers.

I think the finishing 4 holes there are pretty good, too. A very long par3 #15, where I remembered hitting a good shot before, but not this time. Mr Science narrowly missed his birdie. The long par 5 #16 that has the creek running down the right side all the way, up to the elevated green . . . I think the uneven lies have befuddled me both times on that hole. #17 might be one of the hardest holes in town . . . but it might have just been that it was cold and getting dark for us. Another tough, long, elevated green. #18 also seemed tough. I wasn't sure where exactly we were going, and wound up on the left side of the fairway a full 7wood away. I know it was a full 7wood because after I foozled the first attempt I hit a mad ball and it wound up 8 ft from the pin. So I was 6 over the last 4 holes, even after hitting very long straight drives.

Arthur Hills has also done the Camelback Resort Course and the Palm Valley Course. They are subtle in the way we now call Panksian, after Gary Panks, but somehow, more fair.

Recently taken over by Eagle Golf from AGC, as have all the PHX courses. I think this is a good thing . . .

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Cave Creek, Again

We played here before, but all I could talk about was the back 9 . . . starting with the amazing green on #10, every hole has some unique feature that is commentworthy . . . I 3jacked it again -- no matter how close I get . . . I went in the water on the far side of the fairway on #11 this time, but salvaged a par with 3 perfect shots after that. Mr Science was in the brushy ditch down the left side -- as he has been before, too. We were all in the woods on the inside of the dogleg on #12, again. We both parred the par 3 #13, I with a sculled 5iron that wound up pin high. On #14 I hit a drive windblown down the right side of the fairway, down between the two water hazards; it was only a half-wedge approach for me, but I burned the edge of the cup with my birdie-miss. on #15, uphill and against the wind I had only 102 to the middle of the green, and spun my PW approach (sideways -- off a ridge on the green) 4 ft from the pin, but my putt broke 6 inches the last 2 inches, skirting the cup. A weak 5iron betrayed me into the water on #16 -- the Easiest Shot in Golf, the 5iron layup on a par 5 -- but I still confidently struck my 9iron approach over the green onto the hill behind. Skipped my 5wood off the water from the tee on #17, then couldn't get up into the swale where the flag was stuck. On #18 I bit off too much and my ball turned down the slope from the fairway into the desert area . . . I could still hit it, but it was uphill 30 ft from there; at least it wasn't a double-bogey like the prior two holes.

BUt I didn't want to talk about the back9 again -- just those two holes where I had missed two 4ft putts for birdies . . .

The first 3 holes always make me feel like I should have scored better than I do: that green on #1 throws me everytime (it is very steep, with a pinnacle in the back-middle from which the rest of the green slopes away like an upsidedown funnel). There's a very large swale on the left side of the #2 fairway that sucks my ball in like a black hole, every time. Makes the 3putt on the green seem kinda anti-climactic. Also, I always seem to get my greenie on the long par 3 #3, but then 3putt, there, too.

#4,5,&6 could be breather holes, as long as you don't wind up on the wrong part of the green -- easy 3putts, there, too.

On #6 I complained that my lies were even more thin and bare than the ones yesterday at Vistal. "Have you tried the fairway?" Mr Science asked, "It seems lush enough . . . "

#7 is a very tough, long par 3, with a huge bunker guarding the left side and a huge dropoff to the right side of the green -- there was a backup of 3 foursomes on the tee while we were there today -- an indication of something, I'm sure . . .

#8 is the #1 handicap hole. In addition to the daunting tee shot to the round-shouldered elevated fairway, there is the length of the hole, a huge swale that bisects the fairway at the 150 marker, and an elevated, contortured green.

#9 looks like a long flat hole bordering the driving range on the left and that huge ravine all down the right, but somehow that second shot does not suit my eye, and I wind up floundering.

I wound up with an 88 and a double handful of putts missed by a gnat hair . . .Mr Science wound up with another 86, with more 3putts and penalty strokes than he'd expect in a month.


Vistal, Again

We played there before, and ranked it a 2 . . . so when we saw a chance to play it again, for $42, we jumped at it . . . I don't know why I didn't write more about it then . . .

This time we had the QOG (Queen of Golf) & Mrs Cactus with us . . . it's only 5200 yds long so we tho't they'd enjoy it, even tho it was a rather testy layout, as we recalled. . .

when we played last time it musta been late summer, I remember the course being very green, not lush, but green with fast fairways and greens. Now the fairways looked like they had been shaved for over-seeding, but they forgot to overseed, yellow and thin . . . even bare in spots . . .

doesn't bother me, I'm used to thin lies, and I personally need that roll! Mrs Cactus liked it alright, but she said something the other day to me that made my jaw drop. She said, "A golf course is just a golf course . . . " -- well, it made my stomach turnover -- but that's neither here nor there . . . the main thing is that she was hitting the ball well again, keeping up, sorta, with the QOG, who has been skunking her ladies league lately -- with a net 58 lately -- since she got her new Adams Ideas clubs . . . and I told Mrs Cactus that she was hitting the ball so well that maybe while she was trying out new clubs she got her groove back -- and she said, "Oh, it's just the practice." "Well, maybe," I said, "you could just keep going back and testing clubs at different stores, to keep your game tuned up!"

But I reckon she still will want new clubs . . . she doesn't want to be the only one in the 4some with inferior clubs (a Ram starter set) . . . she's trying to decide now between Cobra Transitions and Taylor Made Miscelas . . . she hit the Miscelas well, but the Cobras seem extra forgiving, which in turn gives her more confidence, which in turn makes her hit the ball more solid, if you see what I mean . . . when she was test hitting the 5-hybrid Transition club she almost was hitting it over the net at the PGA Tour store . . . registering 90 yds on the meter . . . no doubt in my mind she'd actually hit it further on the course.

The other thing different in the QOG's game is she's trying out the new low-compression (< 50) women's golf balls . . . even the ZIPs (0 compression), she had been hitting them further, but Mrs Cactus was keeping up with her drives anyway, more or less . . . The QOG didn't like the course much, mainly a conditioning thing, she had trouble hitting her fairway woods off the thin lies -- doesn't everybody -- except MR Science . . . 8^). . .

Mr Science may not care for it much either, he didn't putt well, his Driver's gone intermittently balky on him, and he's lost a club-length on his irons . . . he had one birdie, but several 3putts, which is unheard of for him. . .wound up with an 86. He said later that he'd had one hole with 5 penalty strokes, but later, after he'd consulted his own encyclopedic memory of the Rules Of Golf & The Decisions, that maybe there was only 1 penalty stroke. I had an 84, with 4 double bogeys in the middle 4 holes, I was still driving the ball long and straight, putting well, and hitting at least half of my irons like golf shots, but on those 4 holes, instead of tap-in bogeys I wound up with scrambling double bogeys.

# 4,5,6,&7 holes are the first that really take advantage of the slope of South Mountain: Up and Down, Up and Down, you go in a very interesting set of holes . . . I remembered them from before and played them well (I mean I scrambled well on them), so I was feeling confident when we got to #8, a very short par 3 I remembered: just lob a 9 iron into the middle of the green and 2putt. This time, tho', I came up short of the green. My chip up to the pin on the crest of a ridge that bisects the green raced past 45 ft, a difficult 3putt, but I managed that. Everyone had problems with that pin position -- last time it had been on the right side of the green, which was tricky, but not impossible like that one.

Then I double bogeyed #9 when my drive wound up in a bush on the left side, then my approach to the green drifted right to where the green slopes hard back to the water . . . i wasn't the only unwary golfer to fall prey to this insidious design, either . . . I fished more'n 15 balls out of there just trying to find mine. Left that many in the water as too far away from shore to be mine. Just like #8, I was hitting good shots, but they weren't turning out right.

on #10, my approach went left, to the front corner of the green, I tho''t, but that turned out to be the QOG's; my ball was pin-high in the swale . . . I'd only brought a putter over from the cart, and I was too lazy to walk back, so I tho't I'll give it the old Texas Wedge, Scottish Style . . . so, 2 to get on and 2 to get in, another double-bogey I have trouble explaining to myself.

I don't remember what happened on #11 . . .same sort of silly thing, but on #12 I started a string of 4 pars to go with the string of 4 pars on the front nine, then had 3 tap-in bogeys to close . . .

At one point Mr Science had said "We ought to just play winter rules on this fairway, all the time", but I didn't think the conditions were that bad . . . they were very tight lies, both in fairway and in rough, and the greens were very fast, but that's the way I like 'em . . . I was rollin' them in like Daniel Chopra in Hawaii.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008



1850 Yds, Par 62, Slope 75, by Milt Coggins

"The worst and most beloved course in Arizona: Coronado Golf Course comes through on both counts" according to the link for Coronado -- they don't have their own web site.

Mr Science Reports (it was so terse and unkind I didn't realize it was a review . . . 8^D. . . ):

9-hole Executive course, billed as the best value in Scottsdale. I have to take issue with that, as the course next door, Continental, is 18 holes of more challenging golf, often for less money.

It was fun to be able to drive the short par 4 greens. The fairways and greens were hard and fast. Very little imagination to the design.




2417 Yds, Par 33

Mr Science Reports:

is the name of the perfume my high school girlfriend wore. She would put a drop of it ... never mind. . .

Shalimar is also the name of a 9-hole executive course in Tempe. It is equally memorable for the caddies there. If you take a caddy, there is no greens fee. The caddies are high school kids, and the program is sponsored by a local car dealer. When we agreed to take a caddy, we got our range balls comp'd. It's a very family-oriented place, the owner of the course lives on the 3rd fairway, and there is a large golden retriever wandering the premises. Too old, I think, to be as friendly as she probably used to be, but she did get around to greet everyone.

The course is not very impressive, either in design or condition. The one interesting hole is the 9th, a 300-yard par 4 from the back tees, with an "island" green. The interesting part is that the middle tees are 223 yards, and from there it would make a great par 3 for the pros to play. Otherwise it was Ground Hog Day. I was hitting 5 and 6 irons every hole, depending on the wind, to a 160-yard par 3. It felt like playing the same hole over and over. I only birdied it once, though. 3 of the 4 par 4's were 3-iron, wedge, so the monotony was intense.

"3", for the name and the caddies


Rolling Hills

3828 Yds, Par 62, Slope 93, by Gary Panks
Mr Science Reports:

an 18-hole executive course in Tempe. I liked most of the par 3's, which almost all had interesting elevation changes, and wind considerations, as they headed in all different directions. The par 4's were uninspired, except for #10, a 267-yard dogleg that could be reached by a big hitter going over the woods at the bottom of the hill. Having reached the area of the green, though there was the bunker and a slope down to the desert to deal with.

From the 13th tee, there was a very impressive 360 degree view that included the downtown Phoenix skyline, the Sky Harbor control tower, the White Tank mountains, the boulders of Papago Park, the "A" mountain and South Mountain.

There was a beverage cart (which was lacking at Coronado), and the greens were good, but overall course condition was unimpressive. The driving range was downright ugly, and you hit off mats. Good value, though, and a "3" overall.

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