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Sunday, June 08, 2008


Sanctuary & Desert Canyon

We have played Sanctuary 4 times recently, and lately, we played Desert Canyon again; I played Desert Canyon again without Mr Science this weekend . . . It was like a challenge I could not turn down, to score respectably on these two courses . . . I can't say that I did, but only that I got closer.

The prices have come down at Sanctuary and it's so close to our houses, what with gas prices & all, it's just too much easier to play there than not, if you see what I mean . . . and I don't think I can get tired of playing that course, it's that good . . . I'm always learning new things there, changing my approach, like now I always hit a 3 wood on #6 & #10, instead of trying to cram a driver shot into the fairway, and I've experimented on other holes with the 3wood, but less successfully.

This last time, Mr Science just played with his new 3wood he got as a prize for making brilliant suggestions (bright ideas) at the company where we work . . . they didn't implement any of them, but everyone who hears them agree that they are good ideas . . . I made good suggestions too -- we both got golf shirts celebrating our contributions -- but I didn't get any "points" for my suggestions that I could trade in for such useful stuff as new golf clubs. So: Mr Science wanted to groove his new club. He hit it a ton . . . I knew he would . . . after 5 or 6 holes, he said, "My old driver is worthless to me now!" cuz he was hitting the 3wood as far as his driver -- I been telling him for months he needed to upgrade, cuz he was falling behind my length, tho' he still outscores me . . . 8^/ . . . he prob'bly will, now.

Mr Science had been on a tear these last few rounds at Sanctuary, where he'd be 5 or 6 shots over par after 3 holes, then par in the rest of the way, and wind up with a mid 70s score, while I would start out missing birdies on 1 & 2, and steadily get worse, till I wound up in the 90s -- makes me want to break my driver by biting it at times . . . what was really frustrating was that it is different holes each time . . . so I am confused what I'm doing wrong . . . this round was different for us both . . . he wound up with an 82, with one birdie, but not because of his 3wood -- other parts of his game were suspect . . . meanwhile I had a 92 with 3 birdies, the most schizophrenic round I've had since Estrella Mountain Ranch, where I had a 48 on the back 9, with 3 birdies . . . 8^0 . . .

on the first par 5, #4, I finally'd hit a good drive in the fairway again (apparently experimenting with my 3wood upset my driver, who had to punish me in jealousy), only 200 yds from the green, but sitting down in a divot. I scraped it out with a choke-down 7wood straight at the hole, but a little short. My chip raced 15 ft past the hole, but I made the birdie easily . . . and it occurs to me that ALL the birdies I have made on that hole have come from behind the pin, which I will have to contemplate . . .

on the par 3 #12, they had the tees up only 145 yds away, with the pin on the front, Mr Science hit a 9iron flush to the back of the green, while he carried out a rather heated whispered conversation with his 9iron at the back of the tee, I blocked a half-8 into the right fringe, short, it looked. . . so in turn, I groaned into my hands, "Why do I EVER listen to what club anybody else EVER uses?!?!?!?!" But it turned out to have been the right distance, tho it was 25 ft right of the pin . . . not an easy putt at all, and lately, when I look at putts from the other side of the hole, I either don't see anything at all, or something entirely wrong, so with that in mind, I settled on the small left break I read over my ball, and took my stance, but -- maybe I was reading with my feet again -- I adjusted another 4 inches borrow in my address and then hit my putt, which caught the bottom edge with perfect speed . . .

after a perfect drive just short of the green on #11 followed by a miserable chunk and a very flatulent mis-read of a lag putt, I made a fantastic 8 ft hook to save my par, so I had felt really confident heading into the next few holes -- good putting covers a myriad of other sins . . . but my 3wood 2nd on the par 5 #13 took a bad bounce right off into the brittle bush, then my tee shot on #14 beelined off the heel into the desert, then I sculled 2 5irons off the tee on the short par4 #15, then again on #16, all of which are sins too large for any putting to cover up. But on my 4th shot on #16, from the fairway, I re-discovered the salubrious benefits of not caring, and blistered a 5 iron to the green . . .

not caring anymore worked well for me on the par 3 #17, where I'd birdied the week prior . . . this shot was more majestic than that shot, but not as long, and the uphill 20 ft putt was a double breaker, but I could see the break(s) very clearly and wiggled it in.

On #18 I tried a 5wood instead of 7 wood, thinking I could get past the bunker on the right, even if I blocked it again, but I hit a perfect little draw, to where I would drop the ball, if I could . . . I had almost 250 yds left, but the wind was with us . . . so I knew I could reach the green, but I caught the ball a little thin and came up 10 yds short of the green and right . . . which was ok (except that I am on a mission to make more eagles) since the pin was tucked over on the left behind bunkers that guard it from the fairway . . . but apparently I had started to care again, so I chunked the chip, then blasted the birdie putt 15 ft past the pin and missed the comebacker.

Mr Science has always played 18 well, somehow damping down his driver to the middle of the fairway, then placidly hitting radar-iron 2 & 3 rd shots for excellent birdie chances . . . but somehow this time, his new 3wood led him astray and he pulled left into the arroyo . . . his drop way back in the fairway left him with a blind shot but he hit the 3wood again anyway . . . another solid, majestic shot, but the thing is . . . he had a little fade on it, and I've even hooked balls from there and never found them again, and we didn't find his, either . . . looked for a good 5 minutes out in the rocky desert between #10 & #18, but no joy . . . so naturally he had to pull his next shot into the bunker and then flub a sand shot before he 2putted for a very rare snowman -- I can't remember the last one he had . . .

Mr Science is off to Cabo -- he's not taking his clubs but He and the QOG are taking golf clothes, golfable sneakers, balls, tees, & gloves, just in case . . . I don't see how you can go to Cabo and not play, so I'd talked him into tuning his game up at Sanctuary . . . 8^) . . . when we'd gone to the range before our round, we saw Tony the Long-Haired Limey banging out 3 buckets. We'd met him at a round at Starfire: a very engagine fellow; a fitness trainer who's taken up the game only lately because so many of his clients play golf and want his help to improve their game . . . well he first has to understand what they're talking about doesn't he? . . . 8^D. . . so now HE's addicted to the game . . . 8^D . . . we'd met him coming in as we'd been coming out of Desert Canyon last week, and since it was on my mind that I wanted to improve over the 95 I'd had there then, I asked him if he wanted a game there tomorrow, and he said sure!

So: I have these two major swing tho'ts I'm working with: the tilt of my shoulders at address (flatter for a draw, tilted right shoulder down more for a fade), and the fine balance between not-caring too much and not-caring not enough, if you see what I mean . . . 8^D. . . I have discerned lately that if I have concern about a shot, if I see too much trouble and have fear, doubt, & uncertainty about the shot , I tend to try to guide it, to rectify all my many swing faults all at once, including tidying up every aspect of my address, especially my shoulders, with the result I hit a pull-smother-hook -- conversely, if the hole looks wide open, I may swing too freely, a slice a banana ball out-of-play.

Now the first time Mr Science & I played Desert Canyon the greens had been so grainy and took so many strokes away from us and the tight layout and the altitude changes had really thrown us -- we didn't like it that much . . . but that second round the week before had changed our minds, I think . . . the greens were much better, and a little bit of local knowledge helped Mr Science, and it encouraged me that I could do better, too.

On the first tee, I asked Tony, in surprise, "You've got the Big Dog?"

"Oh yeah!" he said, "you can drive this green!" but he didn't but he was safely in the fairway, up by the cart signs. So I put back my 3wood, and muttering about "smart play" and "strategic golf" tried to align my shoulders (my latest swing thought) for a draw instead of a power fade . . . Que Milagro! I hit it perfectly . . . down the hill, right at the right-side green-side bunker with a tiny draw . . . it bounced 4 times and rolled onto the green, which slopes away from you there . . . I wound up 47 feet past the pin, putting for eagle, missed by an inch . . . Tony floundered a little bit there, wound up with a 6, I think he rushed his warmup cuz he knew I was waiting, but his personal trainer personality was in full force, "Dave, You Are A GOD!"

"Let me see if I can keep this next shot in play, first" I demurred . . . It's a shortish downhill par 4 #2, but it doglegs right sharply, with a great tree guarding the inside of the dogleg, out-of-bounds all down the right side, and unplayable desert . . . I tho't I'd try a 3 wood with the wind over the tree, but it hooked over into the desert which slopes steeply back to the fairway and rolled into the sparse grass on the edge. Tony hit a majestic high shot just down the middle of the fairway . . . looked awfully easy the way he did it, but that tee shot perplexes me . . . I lobbed a PW onto the front of the green, because it was so far down hill, still, but that green is very steep, so it only rolled halfway to the hole. Tony hit one of his 3 wedges right over the pin, over the green. He was not dismayed: "It was solid, it was right at the pin, it was fun!" His pitch back narrowly missed the pin, and scuttled all the way down to the front of the green. He cheerfully putted up and in from there. I narrowly missed the birdie for a pick-up par.

"Dave! You are a God today!"

"Well, we'll see what happens."

on the par5 #3, we turned into the wind, but I hit one of those drives I wish I knew when they were going to happen, the rising quail shot that is more beautiful than a wind-cheater, but goes just as far. Tony's high fade, well-struck drifted off into the trees. Apparently he hasn't developed the stinger yet, and the trees in front of him knocked his hybrid shot straight back down. He was undismayed. I had an even 200 to the green, which is uphill, and based on last week, I figgered it was a smooth 5wood for me, but I could feel the trees on my right crowding my shot . . . I blocked it right into the top of the trees. I didn't here it hit wood, but I did hear it hit gravel, in the desert right of the fairway . . . I hadda take a drop from there, but it was a simple 9iron to the green where I'd left a very makeable 6 ft for par, but I didn't. Tony'd wound up on the left of the green in 4, which left a very slippery downhiller that he lagged close enough for a tapin bogey. Even tho' that was his 3rd straight 6, he felt his game was rounding into shape.

The par 3 #4 has an elevated green guarded on the right with a big trap, but the real challenge is that the green is bowled, like several others on this course, like no other course I've seen . . . it gives you weird breaks, the opposite way from opposite sides of the hole, so that looking at a putt from behind the hole doesn't help so much . . . I had a good shot wind blown behind the trap this time, to go with a foozle and a shot 4ft from the pin (that I missed) the other two times. Tony had come up short of the green, and we both wound up with 4s.

The par5 #5 hasn't presented much of a challenge, tee-to-green, for me, but fer-sure, the last two times I've been on the back of the bowl-shaped green with IMPOSSIBLE putts at the back pin: this one I hit it 4 ft perpendicular to the straight line to the pin and it rolled around the bowl, then straight down to the hole, but a foot past. I don't know how you finish up below the hole on that very elevated green. I asked Tony, and he just shrugged like it was no big deal and said, "You just have to hit it high enough with some spin . . . I use a 52 degree wedge." Hmmmmm.

The par4 #6 is a test, long and uphill (It's a little amazing that all these holes can be uphill!) Last time I monstered a ball into the middle of the fairway, past Mr Science on the fly, then hit a half-5 to the back of the green, putted off the green 10 ft right of the pin, putted back on a foot away for a bogey . . . This time I lost two balls, left and right, and wound up with a 7, using the Desert Rule. D-a-a-a-a-a-a-n-g.

The par 3 #7 is where you get back all the altitude gained on the previous holes, at least 3 clubs worth. Everybody else just seems to lob it down there by the hole, but I'm always struggling. Tony hit a pro-shot, landing it on the big knob on the left front of the green, so that it kicked straight right, right at the hole . . . he didn't make the birdie, tho'.

The par4 #8 is a short hole, but the chore is to figure how much to bite off the sharp right dogleg . . . then the green is like 25 ft above the landing area . . . another severe elevation change . . . Tony put his in the centre, position A, people call it, but I just can't do it . . . I pulled mine left again, this time w-a-a-a-a-y up on the hill side covered in shaggy bermuda rough, 150 yds away. When I took my stance, the ball was about 8 inches below my feet, but sitting up in the rough . . . the perfect Kokopelli Stance Lie! The pin was on the left, and I tho't the ball would go right off that slice lie, maybe a lot, so I only aimed at the left of the green, hoping for the middle of the green, but it stayed right where I aimed it, landed just outside the bowl on that side of the green and kicked left away, instead of right, onto the green . . . Tony hit what looked like a perfect shot from his fairway position, just right of the hole, but balls usually roll out a little more on a green that elevated, and he rolled into the fringe on the back . . . He had a nasty little downhiller, looked like around the edge of the bowl, but it didn't break at all, and rolled a yard past, an easy par, however disappointing. . . I chipped mine over the bowl edge about 4 ft past and made my par too.

"Do your putt again," I told Tony . . . "we've got time, they've just left the tee, and I don't want to spend any more time looking at that tee shot than I hafta!" He agreed that was a good idea, but he didn't adjust, just hit it the same way, not quite as hard, it still didn't take the break . . . "Well, at least you'll know next time," I consoled him . . . Tony didn't seem entirely grateful for my comiseration . . . 8^D . . .

#9 is a booger-bear of a hole . . . not that long, but the green is back 30 ft at least above the landing area, with a big unplayable arroyo all down the left side and the high hill where the clubhouse sets on the right. Last time I hit a loose drive up on that hill. I don't see how balls can stay up there, I could barely stay up there, it was so steep. I found 3 balls, tho', none of them mine, tho' . . . so I was determined to just smooth the ball down to the base of the elevation to the green, without trying to do anything spectacular, but I hit a big bullet right. "It might make the green!" Shouted TOny . . . but it was a scootch too left and wound up down where I wanted to be, anyway . . . as was Tony . . . He lobbed his up on the dancefloor, but too deep, I could tell (that's much better than being short in the cavernous bunker, I should say), but I tho't I could do better . . . but that just meant I bladed mine over the green trying to soft-peddle it. We both bogeyed from there.

The thing you have to guard against on #10 is the water hazard on the inside of the dogleg left . . . but the tee is so elevated there at clubhouse level that it's easy to drive thru the fairway if you don't bite off enough. . . . so Tony had to take a desert drop, but he hit it fairly stiff from there, for a great chance at par. I only had a half-9 left and it almost flew in the hole . . . those greens are very hard in places, and it rolled out 15 ft past. I remembered that it broke more & ran faster than it looked, but I still missed below the hole. Tony's was coming up the hill and he left it short, for the same reason. He remained intractably, implausibly, irrepressibly positive about it all, anyway . . . doesn't matter what putt he misses, as long as he hits the ball solid and scores within his goal . . .

I'm sort of the same way about hitting the ball solid and letting the chips fall where they may, but I have to work to stay positive about missing so many birdie putts. I was 1 for 9 this day. . . plus I missed a lot of greens with good shots too.

#11 is an uphill par 3, not really a redan style, but it's flummoxed me so far . . . I should be able to just hit a regular 7wood up there, but it keeps going kerflooey, leaving me with a bogey. I had the same exact putt for par from 20 ft as I had last week, and missed it exactly the same way, below the hole . . . it's amazing how subtly steep these greens are, how hard they can be in places, and how grainy.

#12 is a short par 4 with a dogleg left so sharp that a lot of people try to drive the green . . . . I don't like that because they have to hit over houses blindly, which endangers the golfers in the group ahead . . . I feel the siren call, too, but I don't think the risk-reward is there . . . both last week and this week, I just punched a 5wood out to the 125 yd markers in the dogleg, then try to lob a 9iron close . . . last week I had a "makeable" birdie putt of 8 ft that I missed . . . had to hit it so slow the grain just grabbed it away from the hole . . . this time I had 35 feet, but I misjudged the speed and putted off the green, just like I had done on #6 last week. Tony'd come up short, but got up and down for par, as I did, for bogey . . . grumble, grumble, grumble.

#13 is a short par5, but that tee shot is very claustrophobic . . . the first two times I played I lost 2 balls out of bounds . . . big trees and houses press in on the left and groomed desert areas line the right side of the dogleg . . . so use the 3wood just to keep it in play, just hit a straight shot . . . the wind must've been behind us, I only had 195 left to the green, but from that right side of the fairway, there's a wicket of palm trees and some other deciduous guarding the green, so I just pooched a little half-7wood between the trees, over the big bunker . . . I couldn't see it land, but I saw it bounce towards the pin. "Dave! You Are A GOD!" exclaimed Tony . . . it WAS a good shot. Tony tried to do the same, from 175, but the performance anxiety conquered him, this time. He lobbed his next shot onto the green and two putted for a Virtual Par. I'd wound up on the fringe, 45 ft away. I hit my eagle putt 6 ft past and missed the come-backer . . . Drat, drat, drat.

#14 is the biggest nothin' hole on the course, short and wide-open . . . naturally I have averaged 6 here . . . today I hit my worst drive yet, a weak slice in the middle of the fairway with lots of roll, so I only had a 9iron in and hit it straight at the pin, but 30 ft short . . . this is another very steep green. l told Tony to pull the pin after I'd paced it off, lined it up, and powered it up the hill. It looked to me like I'd grazed the hole, I didn't believe it hadn't gone in it was going so slow, but as I walked up I realized I'd putted to an old hole 4 feet away! I was so freaked out I missed the nasty little slider for par. There must be a term to describe something done very well but wrong, like that. I don't know what it is. . . 8^D. . .

Oh . . . . maybe #15 is the biggest nothin' hole on the course, not #14 . . . This is the most dangerous part of the course just because the cart path coming and going goes in front of this tee . . . the golf part's not that bad . . . 8^) . . . I pay no mind to the fairway just hit it as hard as I can down the cart path, hoping to get a nice fluffy lie in the rough about 75 yds away . . . if I ever hit the cart path it'll be on the green!

Now #16 doesn't look like much but the OB close at hand on the left and the bushy rough on the right do prey on the mind . . . putting an anti-left lock-block on my ball put both our balls out in the brush somewhere . . . we never did find Tony's ball, and he had to chunk 3 pitches to get on the green. I found mine under a brittlebush on a big flat rock behind a tree, but I still tho't I could pitch it over a tree and a bunker and stop it on the green . . . 8^D . . . long-story-short, coupla 7s.

#17 is an ordinary little uphill par 3, unless you miss the green, where there are grass and sand bunkers all around . . . "Just Let The Club Do The Work" whispered Tony over the ball, and he hit a beautiful tight fade right at the pin. "I like that!" I said: "Just Let The Club Do The Work!" and hit a nice high straight 6iron a little right of the hole. "I may have to hire you to follow me around whispering "Just Let The Club Do The Work" to me while I play", I told him. We were both on the green on opposite sides of the bowl-green, and both left our putts short & below the hole, breaking the opposite ways. 2 Pars.

#18 trudges back uphill one last time, around a great tree on the inside of the dogleg right. Last time I hit the top of that tree and my ball bounced straight back 40 yds, leaving me behind the tree with no shot. This time I pulled the rising quail shot back out of my bag, flew past the tree with a turnover fade towards the green . . . .sa-we-e-e-e-e-e-e-et! Tony staid way left with a big boomer. He had 7iron left, hit it well, and in the setting-sun-glare we didn't see where it wound up, but figgered on the green. The wind was in my face, the green was elevated, but I still wanted to hit my PW (Let the Club Do The Work!) I hit it well, but it came up 4 or 5 yds short. When we got up there we saw Tony's ball short, too . . . "Wish I'd seen that!" I said, "I woulda taken more club! That wind must be stronger than we can feel down below." We both pitched up (with so much practice at it today) for kick-in pars.

Shook hands, traded cards, and promised to do it again, soon.

I wound up with 42-41=83, thinking I left at least 4 strokes on the course, unnecessarily, but then I usually do . . . if I can just add "Let The Club Do The Work" to my shoulder & not-caring swing-mantras without beclouding the mind in a Confucian Sense, maybe I can hit my irons solidly again . . . 8^D . . .

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