The West course is 500 yds longer than the East Course, over the same hilly terrain, so you'd think it would be harder . . . it is . . . this is a fully difficult championship course -- it is a little wide open for the duffers, but to score, you have to hit good shots . . .
This is the first tee, typical of what you'd see thru-out the round, with the Cupcake Mountains in California in the background. I hit a solid drive, then leaked my 9iron right into the greenside bunker. Up-up-and-down for a bogie.
Tho' downhill severely, this 213 yd par 3 #5 is very, very intimidating from the tee, with water on the left front of the green and a giant bunker on the right. Of the three men in our group, two of us were just over the putting surface, and one was short. . . Mrs Cactus was green-high, but right, which was good for her, cuz she could chip up onto the green without having to flop over the bunker . . . an easy bogey . . . one of several on par 3s for her this day. We all made bogeys . . . the green just slopes so steeply back to front that you are inevitably short or long, from fear or recklessness, if you see what I mean. Notice in this picture the cart between the water and the green . . . there are a lot of guys at these clubs, it seems, who feel like having their own cart entitles them to abandon common sense in course-care.
This is #6, the #1 handicap hole, a 456 yd. par 4 dogleg right. I tho't I could just fly those two trees on the right inside of the dogleg, but I shot the gap instead -- it's shocking how pleasurable such luck is . . .
but my next shot I pushed right with my 5wood into the tiny greenside water hazard . . . instant double bogey . . . no real place to bail out, but one could lay-up short, I guess . . . there's a culvert running down the whole left side of the fairway and the fairway will let your ball run that way, too . . . like several water hazards on these courses, that "Arizona Bathtub" is "lifted" to green's height, which makes it look funny, for sure.
I got my one-and-only birdie that day on the par 5 #7 unexpectedly . . . m
eaning that I had not gritted my teeth after the double bogey on #6 and vowed to get a stroke back . . . I was feeling good about my drivers, but my irons were still suspect, but I remained optimistic. But somehow I wound up in the trees on the left of the picture there. I had to hit a low-hook-half-5iron to keep it under the trees and away from the sandtrap that guarded the left front of the uphill green. I haven't hit a finer shot in my life . . . it stopped 22 feet below the hole, which was no gimme, lemme tell ya!
You havta admit that these two par3s, #5 above and this one, #12, are eye-catching. This one has a horeshoe shaped water hazard protecting the green . . . we had that 2club wind in our faces, so I hit a 5 iron, even tho it was only 157, and I was still worried it wouldn't make it . . . I wound up 20+ ft short of the pin. All three men were on the green, but Mrs. Cactus lost 2 balls in the water -- not woman-friendly, as the QOG would say -- two of us made easy pars, and the other made an easy birdie from 6 ft . . . the people sitting up on the verandah above the green applauded graciously.
I really liked the 387 yd par 4 #16 . . . the uncertainties of the dogleg right sorta inhibit you from cutting the corner and make you wary of drifting too far left, but the real treat is when you get to the green. There are 3 tiers and putting down fron the top tier to the middle was no joy for my playing partners, very hard to read. I was short right in the fringe just below that middle tier and my chip/putt broke 5 ft left coming off that mound on the right and the tier-slope, for a kick-in par . . . y'understand, I am trying desperately to get my quota of birdies (2) on a hole like this, but I was thwarted by the design, even after a perfect drive.
After losing 2 balls on the triple bogey par 3 #17, I had some West Texas Red Ass on my drive on 18, with a little more than 160 left to the green, all uphill against the wind . . . I absolutely laced my 5iron approach, but still came up short . . .my 7iron chip came up 6 ft short and I missed the putt to finish with a bogey. Somehow it still seemed like a victory.
I'd kinda hoped we'd finish closer to dark, but both days we finished in just over 4:15 hours . . .
I took this picture of #1 as we left, just because it embolizes what I love about golf at dusk . . . if you compare it to the photo above from 1:15 pm, you'll see what I mean
. . .
I want to be playing golf at dusk.
I love the physically manisfested, theoretical Nature of it:
Unable to see the flight of the ball, I play by sense: "That felt 'left', but l-o-n-g (or right and short, as the case may be)".
It's surprising how well I can play in twilight, Absent the distractions of sight: I play more 'within myself', my competitive passions reined in. The amorphous green in the dark becomes such an easy target. Putts lagged from memory, in a general direction, often go in.
But, more than that, it's the world I choose.
No other place where man does tread looks so wonderful as the sun sets:
The fairway assumes a velvet texture;
Trees and shrubs get fantastic shapes and shades;
Mounds and hollows seem inhabited, if not actually haunted.