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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 . . .


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