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Saturday, June 28, 2008


Las Sendas

6914 Yds, Par 71, Slope 145

They Say: "Las Sendas Golf Course was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. and opened for public play in February of 1995. The course has matured into one of the most beautiful and challenging Golf courses in the Country. Acclaimed by avid golfers and sports writers, Las Sendas is the 12th most challenging, and one of the top 50 courses in the nation according to two ZAGAT Surveys. "

#1 gets the perhaps dubious accolade as the hardest starting hole not only in the valley, but anywhere else on this green earth. Hit all you got and take a chance that you wont wind up in the traps or the water, or lay-up with well over 200 yds left to a very, very elevated green. Mr Science played it perfectly, and still wound up short of the green with a very difficult up-and-down, missing a 4ft putt for par. I put an anti-water-lock on my steer-job-tee-shot and wound up in the mounds on the left between the fairway and the driving range. I had a 45 degree downhill lie for my second shot that I was proud to maneuver down the fairway 150 yds, without going ob or in the water. I hit a very weak 8iron from there, tho', then didn't get up-and-down. Double-bogey.

Fuming about the unfairness of the first hole, I put a little west-texas-red-ass on my drive which only meant that I had another uneven lie in the rough on the backside of the dogleg. I cannily planned to allow for the natural slice lie & aim FOR those bunkers in front of the green, so that my ball would wind up in that large bailout area on the right, but I pulled my shot left so that it cannily sliced directly into the 3rd-last bunker. My first shot in the bunker clipped the lip and fell back; my second flew the green into the desert, 15 ft below the putting surface. A chunk, a blade, and 3 putts for a nine. Meanwhile, Mr Science's drive barely reached the traps on the left, in the fairway; then a 3wood got him 100yds short of the green, 20 yds short of those big bunkers. A wedge & 2 putts for his ordinary par, on a very un-ordinary hole.

#6 presents a very awkward tee shot -- as if ALL the tee shots at Las Sendas were not very awkward -- I judged I couldnt fly those saguaros on the right inside of the first dogleg, so I tried to thread the needle. My ball wound up on a thin thread of rough between the second trap and the desert . . . a very uneven lie with unsound footing. I managed to skull a 7wood up to the next corner in reasonable shape, but then I bladed my sandwedge over the (another!) very elevated green then couldn't get up and down. Mr Science pulled his ball left of the first trap and had to take a desert drop. His third shot was to the fat part of the fairway, but he came up short with his 4th shot into those very deep bunkers greenside. I suppose he took some grim pleasure in the up-and-down from there for only a 6.

To tell the truth, I don't remember what happened on #10 to give me a snowman . . . tho' it's a very interesting looking hole.

On the front 9, I had 15 on the first two holes; on the back 9, 14.
Thats 29 shots on 4 holes, 13 over par. I wound up with a 94, so I was 9 over for the other 14 holes. No birdies. Not even very many missed-birdies. Mr Science wound up with an 83, no birdies, 7 pars. He just didn't have 2 quadruple bogeys, is the difference . . . 8^D . . . He only had one GIR . . . that's one way to tell how tough this course is . . . he had the same problem at Walden, where the slope is 143, but the greens are smaller there.

4 of the 5 par 3s here are what I would call Redan Type, some more than others; #11 being the most severe example. Only one of the par 3s, #16 is downhill, and it is very downhill. I remember from last time lipping out a birdie putt that broke 6 or 8 ft on #11, but this time I muscled up and pulled my shot pin high 50 yds left of the pin . . . it happened to come-to-rest right on the foot path up to the green, but that still involved a chunk and a blade before I 3putted. A 6, without losing a ball on a 135 yd hole. . . 8^( . . .

I suspect #12 is the way it is intentionally, after #11, that the fuming golfer (me) will come to the semi-blind tee-shot a little careless with irritation . . . I figgered I'd pulled it way left but our playing companions said that it probably found the fairway behind the bunker on the inside of the dogleg, or at least the rough. Couldn't find it. So after Mr Science hit his 2nd shot, which had been adeptly shaped as a fade over the bunker, I dropped a ball and indifferently blocked it over right of the green, still on the grass. As we started off in our cart, Mr Science said . . . "Wait a minute!" and backed up to a watering hose coiled up in the rough, 40 yds past the bunker . . . it was my ball indeed . . . "aggggghhh!" I said, "I already took my free drop and hit, so let's go ahead." Playing 2 instead of 3 restored me so much I was able to get up and down for a par, there. So did Mr Science.

Now it was hot out there. We're going on 15 straight days of 110+ degree heat, and I have to believe it must have started to affect us. I know, myself, I musta not gotten enough water, I had a dehydration migraine by the time we got home. At any rate I can't remember #17, either, tho' it looks amazing here. . . I had a double bogey, and Mr Science a bogey . . . you'd think I 'd remember such fluted moguls in the rough and strategic swales, with a 6 I was surely troubled by them, but I don't . . . nor that scalloped green that wants to leak balls right into the front bunker. Not a thing.

#18 is not the best hole to go into in such a condition -- that being one of impaired judgement and reduced capabilities. I know I got enough distance now to carry that first lake, to set up an easy shot to the green, but I blocked my shot right of the water, not OB, but in that desert area . . . din't even go look for it . Mr Science wanted to play strategically, and stay left of the water, reckoning he would wind up over that hump but short of the water, but he blocked his into the water, again. I think he pulled his 3rd shot left into the other water, but then got on and in for his double bogey. I on the other hand, got on, but not close in 2 shots, then 3 putted.

We don't think there's any doubt that this is the hardest public course in PHX . . . Verde Vista comes pretty close, and if you were going to talk about unfair holes, Verde Vista might come out ahead on which is actually the better course. . . Gold Canyon & Sun Ridge would be contenders, too . . . not to mention Longbow . . . but this course puts you in the hole - so to speak - from the first hole and never lets you back out . . .

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