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Wednesday, July 30, 2008


UNM South

7324 Yds, Par 72, Slope 133, by Red Lawrence

They Say: "Since it's opening in 1967 our Championship Golf Course has been rated among the finest golf facilities of its kind in the nation. In fact, it was not long ago that Golfweek Magazine rated us the #1 course to play in New Mexico.
The Championship Golf Course at UNM has quite a distinguished past as well; it has played host to several NCAA Women's and Men's Golf Championships. For 34 years, the course has played host to the William H. Tucker Invitational, and since 1979 our championship course has been home to the prestigious Dick McGuire Intercollegiate, a major tournament in Women's college golf.

The near perfect climate of Albuquerque makes The Championship Golf Course at the University of New Mexico a veritable oasis for golf, be it January or June! Member of Golf on the Santa Fe Trail, a group of 9 centrally located and highly-rated golf courses within New Mexico."

I guess I shudda been more prepared . . . I mean, if the muni Ladera was lush, then UNM South HAD to be lushER, but I hadn't tho't about it . . . I mean it looked pretty lush from the first tee, but I was still viewing that as a positive thing, if you see what I mean . . .

So, on the first tee, I tho't I'd just hit it up onto the outside of the dogleg right and let the slope take the ball on down around the fairway . . . it was so steep I didn't think I'd go thru . . .but what happened was, the ball almost stuck where it landed, rolled just a few yards up the knob at the elbow, leaving me pretty much with the same view as you see here, except I was more left and 230+ yds from the pin. But I drew a little 7wood around the trees obscuring my line-of-sight, just so that the ball bounced a few yards short of the green and rolled up 18 ft from the pin, a shot so good I coulda quit right there, if you know what I mean . . . but I missed the birdie putt ( nasty ridge running thru the middle of that green).

The par3 #2 is kinda intimidating so early in the round . . .nice view, but . . . Somehow I smoothed a 6iron 190 yards into the middle of the green, but another gnarly knob in the green actually had my ball backing up away from the pin on the back-left of the green . . . these greens were fully as fast & soft as the ones at Ladera, and a little more contortured. My Brother-in-Law (BIL) hit an awesome shot, an 8iron from the white tees, pin high in the fringe on the left. He had a good look at birdie, better'n mine, but we both walked away with pars.

So I was feeling a little cocky at this point . . . I'd hit a good driver, a good fairway wood, a good mid-iron, and two good putts, so what could go wrong? I hit a good drive in the middle of the fairway, but dug the toe of my 8iron in the turf and wound up pin high right of the green in ankle deep kentucky blue grass . . . I tho't it was just rye grass which I've had good luck with before, but this acts like bermuda -- the ball goes right down to the bottom -- and those thick blades of grass really grab the club. My first mini-pitch squirted right, and my second onto the green was so far right I 3putted. I practiced my pitch out of the rough while we waited on the next tee, till I went, "Ohhhhhhhh!"

I finished the front 9 with 6 straight bogeys, half missed-greens and half 3putts, for a straight-up 45, leaving me to wonder yet again at how one's game "normalizes" so often when one starts out well (maybe not so often when one starts out poorly? . . . 8^D. . . )

After a double-bogey on #10 I would admit to a little frustration teeing off on #11, but instead of putting the West-Texas Red-Ass on it, I just blocked it right into a small copse of trees you can see there in the picture . . . but when I got to my ball I had a free swing, tho' the ball was sitting down . . . I had plenty of time to ruminate on it while we waited on the group in front, and it was mighty pleasant in the shade there, but then of course, the group behind us starting hitting into us . . . so I pulled my cart back out into the fairway, hoping they'd see it. Then, when I could hit, I hit the purtiest little tight draw with my 5 wood, straight at the green. It wound up 12 ft left, pin-high. I could tell, too, so as I walked back to my cart I wagged my finger at the group behind us. "We didn't see you!" they hollered. "Where'd you think we went?" I hollered back, and drove off . . . I'm under Dr's orders not to get too worked up. I missed that birdie putt, too, and said, "Well, that wasn't my Padraig Harrington moment, after all." . . .8^( . . .

Still feeling a little put-out, from all this and all that, I lost my concentration on the par3 #12 tee shot when a fighter jet zoomed low over us in my backswing, dug the toe in, again, and flared the ball into the trap on the right. When I griped about it, my sister said, "when I was talking when you were hitting under the tree you stopped and gave me a dirty look, why didn't you just stop again?" "Because," I explained, "I am not Tiger Woods!"

The traps here merit special mention, I reckon: they unusually have very small gravel mixed in with the sand that must be messing with your shot some, but not enough to matter to a duffer like me -- it's heavy sand, like crushed granite, and easy to play out of, by which I mean that I made my sandy par, there . . . 8^D. . .

#13 epitomizes a feature of UNM South design: it's as if every hole is built between two ridges, so that the tee is elevated & is the green, and just so, so that my tee-ball would plow into that uphill rise and stop dead with no roll . . . the lush grass doesn't help either . . . and I need that roll.

I felt like I'd striped my ball down the middle and it did wind up just left of that trap in the middle, but instead of having the wedge I expected into the green I had to hit a 7iron . . . this is one of those weird deals too, where I felt like I'd hit it crisp, but it came up short, as if a wind-gust had knocked it down . . .

#14 looks like a very hard par4, and it must be, I took an 8 on it, but I don't remember why . . . can't remember any shots here . . .

but you can see once again how the slope is effectively used to limit your distance if you're not hitting a pro-shot tragectory. I have noted on my scorecard a Missed Green and a 3putt, but I must've had a foozle or two in there, too.

I know I was getting a feeling of running out of time, simultaneously with the inexorable exhaustion that comes with a 5 hour round . . . dang it was slow . . .

I suppose, I would have been happy to have finished with bogeys, again, and that's what I got an 15 & 16, but the par3 #17 does give one pause: a very, very long par3, actually uphill from the tee, but separated by a huge valley (not just a wide arroyo). I was semi-confident, since I could hit a fairway wood, but I popped my 5wood up into the face of a strengthening breeze and came up 60 yards short. Then I thinned my half-wedge over the front-right-corner where the pin was into that tall rough again . . . this would have been a good time for the Tiger Woods 3wood chip, but I didn't want to walk back down to the cart, so I chunked my sandwedge and then 3putted. phooey.

#18 is too-long for me to reach in two, especially against that wind, and even more especially when the landing area is below the crest of that hill covered in the lush grass over wet sod.

It's like my sub-concious takes over: I pulled the drive left of where I was aiming, as if I could get some roll off the slope there, but it just stuck again. The wind was really picking up now, and I hit a low wind-cheater, a gorgeous, straight shot. My sister & brother-in-law exclaimed over it's unusual shape. "That's what we call a 'rising quail' shot" I explained.

I still had 160 left for my 3rd and the strength of the wind made me pull my 4iron. I hit it solid but it still ballooned a little . . . I tho't it might get blown over into the trap on the right but it settled safely on the green (a foot from where it landed, natch), leaving me a nasty 75 ft putt up 2 tiers . . . I missed it by 2 inches to the right for a tap-in par on the #1 handicap hole, natch. I looked at my sister and said, "I still can't adjust to the break-towards-the-river" . . . 8^D . . .

I wound up with a 50 on the back9 for a total 95 . . . disappointing, but I'd struck the ball so well the whole day I couldn't be too disappointed for a first-time-out on such a tough course . . . I'd like to play again when it was drier, where even those uphill landing shots would get a little roll, anyway . . . even if the greens were not quite as receptive . . .

All golf architects look like geniuses when they have a good piece of land to work with, but this seems like a really intelligent use to me . . . this has GOT to be Red's finest, it's hard to see how he could do better unless he was working at Pebble Beach, if you see what I mean . . . I have seen Desert Highlands in Cave Creek, but not played it, and UNM South is really more like park-style than desert style, so it's hard to compare, but I'd still give the nod to UNM.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Ladera - Albuquerque

7105 Yds, Par 72, Slope 121, by Dick Phelps

They Say: "Opened in 1980, Ladera featues include spacious greens, a broad teeing area and a large driving range tee, roomy practice putting greens, and four large lakes.
Surrounding Ladera are beautiful views of the Sandia Mountains to the east and the volcanoes to the west.
The long course is uniquely designed in natural terrain, nestled at the foot of the volcanoes.
Ladera is a challenging city-owned course, with the longest playing yardage of any of the other city courses."

Before I get to Ladera, I have to finish some business with Arroyo Del Oso . . . I love that course, and decided, all things considered, that I should take my Cousin Gary there in lieu of all the other great courses there, for a host of reasons, but mainly because I love it . . . when I called 2 days in advance to make a tee-time, they brushed me off with "first-come, first-served", but when we got there, we found a Tournament in preparation, and no tee-times till 1pm . . . so I told them how displeased I was, and stalked back out to the parking lot. Gary headed back towards I-25 while I phoned around, scrambling for a tee-time . . . Twin Warriors had no tee times either, till 2:10 . . . Desert Springs didn't answer . . . but Ladera said, "Get here by 8am, and you'll have no trouble getting off!" So south on I-25, West on I-40 to Coors Blvd, just a couple of lights, then left a couple of blocks, and there it was.
I have to say, friendliness & availability aside, it's just not as interesting as Arroyo del Oso . . . it was in excellent fettle, in fact a little too lush . . . I wasn't getting my roll that I need, it was so lush . . . the bent-grass greens were incredibly soft, too. On #3, my approach settled in the ballmark it had made, which is a cool feeling, but then I couldn't get it smoothed out enough to let me make the birdie. Wanted it bad. . . . On the par 5 #2, I'd totally pureed my drive straight down the fairway 280 yds on the fly, but instead of kicking off the hump of rough sticking out there (as you can see in the picture left), it just stuck, so I still had a 3wood to the green, which I likewise totally grooved with a tiny draw that bounced once in front of, then once in, then once over, the trap guarding the front of the green. Out of the clingy rye rough I chipped left of the hole 8 ft, so that it rolled down to kick-in-distance for my birdie. But I didn't get two in a row, not even another the whole day. The greens rolled really smooth & true, but fantastically fast downhill and fantastically slow uphill, so the sidehill putts were very difficult.

Most of the holes are not that memorable -- sort of Panksian or Nashian in their homogenous appearance, but did I break 80? No . . . partly because of the lush fairways, partly because when I got off the grass, I kept hitting the ball fat off the hardpan desert, partly because the gnarly rye rough flummoxed me a little, and partly because the greens were unfamiliar -- I had 5 lip-outs and a couple more burned edges.

But several of the holes perplexed me, being my first time around . . . like #9, a relatively short par 4 that has a landing area pinched by large traps & trees on the inside of the dogleg-left and a reachable water hazard on the outside of the dogleg . . . it really does look like there's no place to go . . . so I foozled my 3wood teeshot, then hit an 8iron layup all-but in the water on the left. My half-9 3rd shot was on the front of the green, with the pin, but I didn't make the par.

The longish par4 #14 presents another psycho-obstacle . . . the tee box is "aimed" away from the center line and a copse of desert trees on the left also obscure the fairway from the back tees -- it's not really a dogleg but it feels like one . . If you don't bite enough off, you'll wind up on the hardpan desert, but too-much will have you back into the desert on the left.

The par 5 #17 is another hole, I just couldn't get comfortable with the tee shot and so foozled it . . . between the trees and desert areas pinching the landing zone, I think maybe now I shoulda hit a 3wood. Cousin Gary, oblivious, hit a good shot up into the narrow neck of the fairway, but the ball jumped straight left off a bad bounce back onto the hardpan. So, my fears were justified, if not my craven cowardice . . . While Gary hacked his way down the left side, on and off the hardpan, I toed a 5wood up by the water, but the trees were blocking any shot to the green, so I laid up left, hoping for a 1putt par. Nope, sorry, thanks for playing!
I was surprised to be playing #18 . . . I tho't I still had some holes left to rescue my round . . . and it only added to my frustration to see this little puzzler . . . the tee is left of this shot, so the water comes even more into play . . . we had a playing companion who coached us to hit fairway woods instead of drivers, since that fairway is tee-niny up there where you can see the water poking in. It made me uncomforatable again, so I blocked my 5wood out into the hardpan again, in a sort of anti-water-lock . . . hit my 7wood 2nd fat, natcherly, wedged up about 20 ft away, and missed the par.
So I wound up with the 1 birdie, 45-41=86, with no blow-up holes. Gary had 51-45=96, so he said he won because he improved 50% more than I did on the back 9 . . . so the course, while not particularly memorable, was very playable & interesting, and on this day, more challenging than usual, with the soft fairways . . . I don't know if the found-balls I play with were soft or something, but I didn't seem to be getting that 5% boost in distance I was expecting, but it could have just been the soft fairways and greens. . . it'd be worth playing again just knowing what to do on those holes I've talked about.
Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Breakfast Burrito at Ladera, which inspires the peace-that-passeth-understanding, gustatively, if you know what I mean . . . I had the Red Chili version that includes carne adavoda, bacon, egg, potato, cheese, and other stuff . . . Gary had the Green Chili and didn't eat his at the golf course, but that was because he wanted to share it with his mom, wife, & sister back at the B&B. They loved it so much, they stopped back by Sunday, on their way out of town, to get some more . . . 8^D. . .

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


You SHOULD be missing greens!

Tip of the Week: Prepare to Miss Approach Shots

Mike LaBauve, one of the nation’s top golf teachers, sees a lot of amateur golfers miss greens with their approach shots, and he is always surprised when they seem unprepared for those results.

“If you’re a 20 handicap, you should be ready to miss more than three-fourths of all greens,” LaBauve said. “But you would be a 10 handicap if you knew what to do next and had repeatedly practiced those short shots near greens after a miss. Amateur golfers should not be surprised by their misses; they should be prepared for them.”

As LaBauve points out, even PGA Tour players miss about six greens in regulation per round. A 20-handicap golfer misses on average about 14 greens in regulation per round, he estimated.
“Understanding and accepting that your iron play will test your short game is the first part of getting better,” said LaBauve, who is the director of instruction at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz. “Perfect those short-game shots, and you’ll see incredible improvement — from 6 to 10 shots per round, depending on your handicap.”

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Sanctuary - 36

Mr Science suffering from a simultaneous breakout of golf blahs and a elbow twinge is taking a week off . . . out of the heat . . . I laid low Saturday expectorating thunderboomers that never happened, so I moseyed over to Sanctuary after the Old People's Show on CBS, round about 9:30 to see if I could walk on . . . hooked up with two very amiable young flatbellies, Rob & Mike, whose games were Rusty, so I won't spend any time on them, but they play an essential role, as you will see . . .

I started out with 4 straight 5s as a result of sinfully weak chipping on the first two holes, then righteously strong chipping on the next two holes, and that chipping would stay with me the whole day. A par on the par 3 #5, then a snowman on #6, bogey on #7, doublebogey on the signature par 3 #8, then a par on #9 . . . even with the great chipping, on #3, #4, #7, #8 & #9, the wooly greens were frustrating my putting, so I wound up with a 45 . . .

I can't say I had vowed to knuckle down on the back 9 any more than I always vow to knuckle down, but the plain truth is that I did . . .

hit a knockdown 3wood to the middle of the fairway, then pureed a 9iron over the green in that semi-blind shot; another good chip for a gimme par.

FINALLY hit a good shot on #11 again, and tho't I made the green but I was 3 yds short, and the pin was over on the left, so eagle wasn't really doable, but I also missed the 5 ft putt for birdie after a good pitch over the corner of the sand trap.

thinned my tee shot on the par 3 #12 over on the right side of the green, not quite up to the back pin position, barely missed the nasty little downhill breaker for birdie . . .

FLAT pushed my tee shot on the par5 #13 up onto the dam, but it caromed off in a magical way back into the fairway about 20 yds short of the big sand trap on the right. Promptly hit my 3wood into the next big sandtrap on the right, about 105 to the pin. Hit a half-9 to the front left part of the green, came up short on the uphill birdie putt. tap-in par.

Semi-pulled a low-line-drive over the big hump on the inside of the dogleg left on the par 4 #14, had 123 yds left with a downhill lie. . . punched a 9iron past the pin so that it rolled around the backstop there for a while, threatening to soak back to the hole, but it hung up there . . . treacherous downhill birdie putt wiggled 7 ways to sunday before missing the cup.

Still trying to just play the short par4 #15 to a standstill, not dominate it, I tried to smooth a 5iron out over the 150 yd marker, pushed it right, and the last I saw of it, it took a huge bounce off the cart path. So I took a desert drop up by the ladies tees and hit a 7iron onto the left side of the green where the pin was -- felt pretty restored by that, figured I might hole that one-putt to save my par, but as I was creeping down the cartpath, half-looking for my ball, I found it, on the fairway side of the cartpath on a hardpan lie . . . so I hit a PW to the middle of the green, up on the upstairs tier, looking for a 2putt par . . . the birdie putt went 5 or 6 ft past the hole, and I missed the comebacker. bogey.

The problem I been having on the long par 4 #16 is hitting my ball too far left, into the trash or the traps, so now I just aim at the traps on the right . . . I don't know why or how or how long that will work, but I keep winding up on the leftside of the fairway a wedge away. Hit my approach pin high 9 ft left . . . that green is so contortured I was sure I was misreading the break even tho' the putt looked straight from both sides of the ball, so I left it 2ft short, just to be sure.

I got away with another thinny on the par 3#17, where the pin was up on the front right hand corner . . . just like when I played my 2 hour round a couple of weeks ago, I had a measly 15 ft uphill putt for birdie, and just like then and all day today, I left it short.

I figgered if I was ever gonna eagle #18 this had to be the day . . . I tho't I might've line-drive-pulled my 5wood too far left, but it was safely in the fairway 257 from the pin, which was on the back of the green. The wind was with me, mostly, and I had a launch-pad-lie, so I reckoned I might make a long eagle putt if I could get it on, but I pushed it a little right, because of the trees crowding my shot on the left, and wound up in the swales right of the green. Hit one last premium pitch/chip the right distance, but right 7 ft above the pin. I almost left that downhill birdie putt short too, but it just tumbled in.

This where my boys, Mike & Rob, come in. They are my witnesses. An essential role, I'm sure you will agree.

So in case you lost count that's a 36 on the back 9 . . . so now I've got 36s on both the front and the back, I just got to put them together . . . .8^D . . . so I had 31 putts the way I counted 'em up here. . . just 1 3putt, on #15 . . . 8 birdie putts on the back 9, and missed 7 of 'em . . . I shudda broke 80, easy . . .

Monday, July 07, 2008


Grayhawk Raptor

So over the long weekend, we played 3 times, in 100+ degree heat . . . that does wear on a boy, I reckon . . . wouldn't want to be doing anything else, certainly not vegging in front of the tv in air conditioned comfort . . . but I reckon our scores have suffered a little bit, even teeing off early . . . in fact, I think that's a detriment to me . . . I am not a morning person . . .

but anyway, we played Sanctuary Friday. I had a 41-46=87 with one birdie. Mr Science was better than that, but not as much better as usual, tho' he had a 39 on the back9 . . .I show 7 3putts for myself. No excuse.

then we played the Biltmore Links Saturday, where I had an 88 to Mr Science's 84. No birdies for either of us, but I had 2 snowmen.

So Sunday, we went over to the Grayhawk Raptor with Ms Science, just for a little breather . . . 8^D. . . neither of us is driving the ball well enough to score well these days, but we gave it the old bulldog and gave it a try, anyway . . . I was filled with at least as much trepedation as before Las Sendas . . .

7135 yds, Par 72, Slope 145

They say: "Grayhawk Golf Club's Raptor course, designed by Tom Fazio, offers a thrilling challenge that commands a player's respect through a daring, high-stakes game of risk and reward.
Stretching 7,135 yards from the back tees, the par-72 Raptor Course meanders over the gentle hills and across shaded natural washes that are typical of this picturesque corner of the Sonoran Desert. Raptor offers players panoramic views of Scottsdale's rugged McDowell Mountains as it surrounds them with towering Saguaros, Palo Verde, Ironwood and Mesquite trees that were preserved in creating the golf course.
Typically, Raptor's fairways are generous, however, strategically placed fairway bunkers can quickly transform an offline drive into a scramble for bogey. The greens tend to be large, with a fair amount of undulation. Wayward approaches are duly penalized as most of the greens are perched above deep bunkers and grass collection areas. Fazio utilized water sparingly, but where it does come into play, he created intriguing hazards that add drama as well as aesthetic value to the golf course. "

At the last second, after we had already teed off on #1 . . . a fourth showed up to join us . . . Jimmy, as we came to know him . . . hit a serviceable hook out into the fairway and we were off. I'd pulled my drive into-and-out-of the fairway bunker on the left. From an awkward stance I had to hit a 5iron over a tree blindly toward the green, came up short in front. Mr Science was just off the back right, and Jimmy was floundering around on the left side. I missed my par, Mr Science got his . . . as we walked back to the cart he said, "Jimmy doesn't like starting off with a 7". Well: that's a clew, idn't it?

I absolutely beazered my tee-ball on #2; it was half-past the fairway bunker on the left, leaving just a SW to the green. Jimmy fanned his out right into the desert. This is where I lost track of what Mr Science was doing, Jimmy took all my attention. "Jimmy can't think what's wrong. Jimmy's just playing 9 holes before he goes to the ball game tonite to see the Padres Pound some Diamondback. Jimmy will just drop a ball here." I've foozled a SW before, but I am ready to lay some off on Jimmy's constant prattle. I fatted it about 10 yds short right of the green, short of the bunker. In that weird way it happens sometimes, I could see exactly what to do and did it . . . chipped up to the top of a knob there on the right-front of the green and just let it release sideways 15 ft into the cup for a birdie. I felt like I was owed. I hadn't chipped in in a monthaSundays, and the foozled SW rankled.

on the way to the 3rd tee, I asked if he was a member . . . "Oh, yeah, Jimmy's staying with his mother - she lives out here - then we're going to the game this afternoon, about 11:30 . . . Jimmy's gonna hafta par to the house to get his 45 . . . ", then inbetween shots, "Jimmy actually lives in a big house down in central phoenix . . . the construction biz is so bad now, Jimmy only has 3 projects now . . . one of those is just a little gazebo for some company, a couple days of work . . . but at least when Jimmy works outside all day it makes playing golf a pleasure in this weather . . . " Then after he interrupted my backswing on a chip (bladed entirely over the green) asking Ms Science if she needed a SW for her sand-shot, he said, "Oh! Jimmy didn't mean to talk during your shot. Jimmy feels like he affected you . . . "

It all just seemed to be going so slowly . . .

Gritting my teeth like I was bridled with a razor-bit, I super-concentrated on the par5 #4 #1 handicap hole: a slightly less impressive drive than #2; a solid 3wood in the fairway, a low-line-drive that rolled intelligently away from a fairway bunker; a tasteful half-wedge up onto the elevated green; an intelligent 2putt for par. All the while, "Jimmy usta be 4 handicap in college. Jimmy played semipro-ball in california . . . coulda tried out for the Angels . . . Jimmy hit the golfball a l-o-n-g way . . . "

I felt a little anxious by now . . . slow play does that to me . . . but this additional element was especially . . . um . . . distracting . . . on the par3 #5 I realized I had the wrong club, my 7wood instead of 4iron, but I just tried to soft-peddle it instead of going back to the cart . . . hit a bullet straight over the right side of the green just into the woods behind the green. Jimmy was over the green in the brush too, but with a shot instead of a drop, but he foozled twice then 3putted. "Jimmys gonna havta birdie to the house now to get his 47!"

I don't remember much of #6 or #7, only that Jimmy paused to ask me a question, which I mistakenly tho't required an answer, but was only a conversational gambit . . .

"Jimmy played the Biltmore Links Friday, it's not too far from Jimmy's big house in central Phoenix. The greens were in terrible shape. Have you played there?"

"Well, yes, we just played there . . . "

"It was really hot. . . not as humid as today, tho' . . . good thing Jimmy works outside all day, so golf on a day like today doesn't seem so bad . . . but Jimmy's AC in his big house in central phoenix went out . . . Jimmy had to sleep on the floor of the foyer, on the cool tile, like a cat . . . that's why Jimmy is staying with his Mother tonite and going to the ball game . . . it's too hot . . . because it's a big house in central phoenix it's going to cost Jimmy $14000 to get a new unit . . . Jimmy's roommate doesn't care . . . he's off somewhere in the cool at 7000 feet, but Jimmy told him, 'I don't even own this house . . . I'll pitch in $4000 to be a good roommate but you got to come up with the rest!' . . . "

SO then we tackled #8, which has got to be the most beautiful hole at Grayhawk, and maybe the most beautiful par 3 in PHX. I kinda fatted my 6iron just over the big bunkers on the left, and the ball just trickled down to the middle of the green. "You are the luckiest SOB in the world!" ejaculated Jimmy. He in turn topped a ball thru the desert, just onto the grass at the bottom of the hill. "Dang. Jimmy's gonna have to make a birdie on 9 just to break 60!"

After I got my 4, missing a 3 foot downhill par putt eerily similar to the birdie putt I'd missed on #7 -- idn't it funny how Golf will make you keep trying the same shot till you make it or break it? -- Jimmy got his 7 and Mr Science scrambled to his 4, we headed off to #9 . . .

"Jimmy's played most of the courses in Phoenix. Jimmy plays all over. Do you mainly play in Scottsdale? Have you played the Duke?

"yeh, we played the Duke. Long way to go for such a mediocre course . . . we've been even further south tho', to Grande Valley Ranch, and as far East as Florence . . . "

"Jimmy's been to Florence . . . Jimmy's been to Florence!" and he gave me a meaningful look. "Jimmy was in Florence for 5 1/2 years." He must've seen a look on my face. "Jimmy had a little altercation with a Motorcycle cop with an attitude . . . stopped me for DUI, and things got a little heated . . . he pulled a gun on me, so I hadda take it away from him . . . but They do frown on that in Arizona . . . so They tacked on 5 years for Assault to the DUI . . . Jimmy apologized to the family, even tho' Jimmy didn't want to . . . didn't do any good . . . "

I think all of us just wanted to finish #9 as fast as we could, for different reasons, so we may not have given it our full attention. I dropped Jimmy off at the parking lot and zoomed on over to the #10 tee.

#10 is a cute little hole, with the creek that runs down the right side, the veers in front of the green. Very picturesque. I pulled my drive over behind the trees just off the fairway on the left . . . just had a 9iron left, but it was a blind shot . . . too much performance anxiety, I guess, I had to hit it fat twice, somehow dodging the creek, to get to the front of the green from where I promptly putted over the green into the swale behind the green . . . only took 3 to get down from there for my 7 . . . I still had a bad case of the Jimmys and for some reason, the 4some behind us had driven into us in the fairway. Mr Science had managed a textbook par: a GIR and a very cautious 2putt. Ms Science suffered as I had . . . we were together on the front of the green and then again in the swale behind the green.

On #11, Mr Science inexplicably smother-hooked his ball into the desert -- something he has been doing more of lately . . . I think in his case it is overswinging, tho' you -- I mean "I" -- can't tell from his swing, whereas, in my case, the smother hook comes from trying to be too careful, a steer-job thingy. Thus reminded, I gave full rein to my swing and pasted a long drive down the left side of the fairway . . . It wasn't really that high but it seemed to me to take a long time to land. Well, it was probably only 240 yds, but it was against the wind. I fanned my 3wood and wound up in the bunker on the right side of the fairway, just about 100 yds away. I went ahead and hit again while Mr Science was groping in the desert for his ball. One thing I claim I do well is hit out of fairway bunkers, and this one I tho't was all over the pin . . . I'd feathered my PW a little bit cuz it was slightly less than my optimal distance, picked it clean, straight towards the pin, but then it came up 10 yds short, plugged into the precipitous breastworks on the front of the green. I guess I shoulda been glad the whole course was so wet, else it would have prob'ly rolled back 20 ft below the dancefloor. I unplugged my ball then chipped it up near the cup. It almost went in. "Dave didn't think he would get 2 chip-ins in the same round," Dave said. . . 8^D . . .

What was weird, as we gathered ourselves to go up to the green to putt, one of the group behind us scooted up in his cart and said, "Sorry about driving into you on #10 but would you mind if we played thru?" I was totally non-plussed. Mr Science still had the equanimity to tell him . . . "No-o-o-o-o-o. There's a 5some in front of us and we're down to a 3some, so-o-o-o-o-o, no."

It had a delayed effect on me . . . I got off #11 ok, but on #12 I couldn't hit the ball up off the ground I was so upset. The manners of the @#@#%@!#%!@#$!@#$!@#% Arizona Golfers never ceases to amaze me. I managed to finish with 5 straight bogies after I gathered myself, but it was just too hot to put up with first The Jimmy, then clowns who hit into us, then apologize & ask to play thru in the same breath.

There's nothing wrong with those last 5 holes, I just was too burnt out after 3 days in the 100 degree heat to care much in the face of so much social adversity. The hugely downhill par3 #16 and the apparently-driveable par 4 #15 are both fun holes, but I don't want to describe them.

#18 ought to be an eagle opportunity, downhill par5 that it is -- the pros play it as a par 4 -- but I didn't catch my drive solid and was still short of the trap . . . I went ahead and tried, anyway, and weakly mis-hit my second out into the lake. After a drop I hit a half-wedge over the pin and 2putted for a 6. I think Mr Science's confidence was a little shaken, too, as he bogied the last for no good reason.

So -- long story short -- as if that were still possible -- a dreamy course, hilariously difficult in places, interesting always, a classic demonstration of the skill of Fazio . . . . but . . . . I had this inarticulate feeling from the other time we were here, that the quality of the patrons here do not match the quality of the golf . . . some vague impression of some arrogant shithead browbeating the staff because his clubs weren't brought out quickly enough -- possibly this is my own failing, the irredeemable dirt-farmer in my blood boiling from the confrontation of so much privileged assholery. Still and yet, the unfortuneate truth is that I would love to be one of the members there, I just don't want to be like them, if you see what I mean . . .8^) . . .

I wound up with a 45-49=94, with one birdie, 2 7s & an 8 . . . and the feeling I had left shots all over the course. Didn't drive consistently, my irons were uneven, and my putting was unreliable . . . that may have been due to the slow transition to summer grass. I reckon Mr Science shot close to 90, too, with a birdie, because of all the distractions.


Biltmore Links

Hmmmm. Arizona Biltmore Golf Links Fly-over.

6300 Yds, Par 71, Slope 125 by Bill Johnston.

The first time, last summer, we played the Biltmore Links, we were caught a little off-guard . . . we expected a rather mundane experience, as we had had on the Biltmore Adobe course, so from the first hole we were o'erthown . . . that first time, the started informed us that the two couples infront of us included two women club pros and the course designer . . . after a moment of cogitation, I realized it was the same designer as for Rancho Manana, my personal fave, and Pointe Hilton (at Lookout Mountain), another stellar course . . . even so . . . when we finished, Mr Science pointed him out in the parking lot, and said, "Go talk to him!" but I was too diffident. Dangit. What a lost opportunity.

So we were very hot for the temperatures to get up and the prices to get down again so we could have another look at the course. I was willing to consider it for Best In The Valley, rank it a "2" by my scale, but we needed another look-see to be sure.

Our playing companion this day was Debra, who'd come out on short notice, because it was her birthday. This photo is a Neimanized rendition of Her & Me putting on #4. I am in the process of missing a bogey putt. She is in preparation for her tap-in par. "You are the class of the 3some now!" I told her.

Dang. It's going to be hard not to do the whole course.

This first hole is a puzzler. It's much steeper than shows here. If you go wide left to get around those trees, you have a longer, uphill 2nd. So this time I went right at the green, thinking I could get thru, but I just wound up short, behind one of those trees. I tried to brazen my way past them with a knockdown shot, but wound up short of the green -- not in the traps, so I was able to get up and down for par . . .

The 2nd hole looks like a flat par 5, not that long, so it shouldn't really be such a trial as it has been to me the first two tries at it . . . I guess it might be the #1 handicap hole for some reason . . . This picture is from where I hit my 3rd shot after hooking into the water . . .I foozled that into the water in front too. Mr Science hit two perfect shots then bladed a wedge over the green into the sand . . . "I can accept that you got my hole," I said, "but why didn't I get yours?"

#3 is a cute little par 3, over water, no big deal. I wish we had a picture tho'.

#4 is one of the nothin' holes on the front 9; a straightaway par 4. Yes, I had a 6, prob'bly because I went to sleep.

#5 is an ugly little par 3, not to say uninteresting, it's very short, but the pin can still be tucked away in the back out-of-sight, like it was for us. With ANY sort of short-game, tho', you should manage par, if not birdie; you just have to get past the mental hazard.

#6 & #7 are nuthin' little par 4s again. About here is where one begins to think maybe one has wasted one's precious time playing such a course.

Then #8 might give one a little pause, if not insensate, a testy little uphill redan sort of a hole, short enough to make one careless, but the bunkers a very deep, the green is very small and steep . . . so tho' one could par it with mediocre putting, as did I, one could also wind up with a 5 very quickly, from the front bunkers, as did Mr Science, this day. I wish I had a picture to show . . .

#9, like #2, #4, #6, & #7, bears not much comment, nor illustration. These are the holes I would like to see "strengthened" with some creative mounding, some fairway bunkering, or even some more trees crimping the fairway.

#10 makes for a back-to-back par 5 . . . but if you have been lulled before you will wake up now . . .this is uphill, and tho' it feels wide-open because the 18th is next to it, the landing area is pinched by those trees . . .there are swales and hollows all up the fairway, including in front of the elevated green, and the large green is a little deceptive here too, after some of the small greens before, which makes 3putts all the more likely.

#11 is the most ordinary, and the longest par 3

on the golf course, but it IS a little more steeply uphill than it looks here. I flared my 4iron right of the sand trap a good 30 yds, under-and-behind a tree. I tried a miracle shot, chopping a sandwedge low under the tree and over the trap with lots of spin, but I bladed it instead, thru the trap, 10 ft below the hole. "I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ANY MORE WHINING ABOUT BAD LUCK THE REST OF THE DAY" roared Mr Science. "IN FACT!" he continued, "FOR THE REST OF THIS MONTH!" I missed the putt . . . 8^( . . .

#12 begins the series of truly amazing & interesting holes.

Last time, I fanned my 3wood way right, chunked a 7iron short of the lake, lobbed a half-wedge pin high on the front of the green and jarred a putt for par. This time mishit my 3wood right, in the rough, then hit a 7wood from 190 against the wind heavy, into the water, then chunked a SW into the water, then hit it again right over the pin, then 2putted for a snowman. Mr Science played it text-book perfect, for a tap-in par.

#13 is the perfect hole after #12, a very long par 4, wide-open, but with a tricky green placement into the side of the hill. If you overswing or mishit your drive, you can wind up with a nasty side-hill long 2nd shot. If you don't allow some fade in your second you can wind up in some very deep and large bunkers greenside, or even further back down the hill.

As it happened this day, I was using the former strategy, and I still had nearly 250 yds to the green off that giant hill, but I allowed enough for the slice lie and my 3 wood hopped right up onto the green . . . I still had 50 or 60 ft for birdie, but I was able to to 2putt anyway. Mr Science floundered like I hadn't seen him in 2 years to a 7. Inexplicable. I guess he was just due.

#14 is a short par 4, but the green sits 40 ft above the fairway landing area that sits 10 ft above the tee . . . you either want to hit it 230 or 170, to avoid the stand of trees that guard the right inside of the dogleg up to the green. I'd masterfully hit my 3wood to the left side of the fairway about 180, while Mr Science had scientifically powered his 3wood up the rightside about 220 . . . so we both had tree trouble. Our playing companion this day, Debra, asked me, "So, whattayagonnado?" since she was a couple yards next to me. I looked at my fluffly lie and said, "I'm gonna hit my 6 iron up there on the right corner of the green, away from the trees, and try to 2putt from there". Dang if I didn't. Mr Science must have swallowed some water down the wrong pipe or something then. But after Debra toed her ball off right of the green about halfway up the hill, he managed to recover enough to hit his 8iron up on the left side of the green, away from the trees. That is a very steep green. but the greens were very receptive after the monsoons 2 nights in a row, in fact they were a little wooly in places. All I could remember was 4jacking that green the other time, so naturally, I left my birdie putt 8 ft above the hole, then missed the par. Mr Science lagged his birdie to tap-in distance for an easy par, not letting that triple bogey the hole before bother him at all.

#15 is the most picturesque par3 on the course, probably the most picturesque tee on the course, from the highest point on the course -- sort of like the way on Desert Canyon you get back all-at-once all the altitude you've had to climb the last 5 holes. There's a sign that says play it as 165, but last time we both came up short. This time we both hit the green, so it must depend on the temperature and wind, a lot, if you see what I mean. We both had tap-in pars this time, where last time we both had double-bogeys.

#16 is the most nuthin' hole on the back 9, but that doesn't mean it isn't interesting . . . there's a large swale in the landing area, right at the 150 pole, that exagerates the effect of the slightly elevated green . . . you could call it a breather hole, if you was in fightin' trim.

#17 is like the mirror-image of #13, the slope is the other way, right to left, and the green is still kinda downhill from the tee, even if it seems uphill from the landing area. Mr Science & I both pulled our drives left down the hill into the rough. Somehow, he was able to get his 2nd shot back up into the fairway near the green, but I pulled my 7wood green-high at the bottom of the hill again, behind a bunker. Natcherly I had to chunk it into the bunker, but from there I made a superb bogey-sandy save. I would LOVE to do that for par sometime.

#18 is a fairly short downhill par5, so I'm thinking this is my last chance for an eagle. . . no-duh! . . . I hit a solid but not awesome drive down the right side of the fairway, then almost hit-well my 3wood approach . . . I tho't it might have a chance, but there's a smoothed-over arroyo, running diagonally away from the golfer, left-to-right, in front of the green. My ball caught the top of that depression and ran 40 yards sideways with it, till it got behind a little palo verde & a bunker. Since I am not Phil Mickelson, I didn't like my chances of flopping over those, so I just chipped a 7iron onto the left corner of the green and tried to 2putt. Mr Science had blocked his drive out into the trees separating 10 & 18. His 3iron punch caught a twig that sapped his distance. His longiron just off the green left him 3putt distance away. Bogeys.

So. . . a 3 to me . . . based on the unimposing front9 . . . just not really a contender for Best In The Valley, but an awesome back9 . . . Mr Science might've faulted the conditions on this trip, too.

The par3s are very quirky in their variety, but I love the mirrored aspect of the back9: #10 & #18 and #14 & #17 . . . it reminds me of the harmonics of Rancho Manana.
5-3-4-4-4-3-4-4-5 seems like an imperative statment of some sort . . .


Nancy's Ace

One of my cubicle mates had her birthday today, and an Ace, yesterday . . .

On #5 par 3 at Paradise Peak West.

PW from 90 yds into the sun. She says they couldn't see a thing.
But she heard it hit the pin.
One of her playing partners got so excited he ran up to the green to see.
When he started yelling, the group behind them, including her husband tho't that HE'd made the Ace, so she had to set them right.
It musta gone in On the Fly.

She was having a Good round, 1 over on the front 9, unlike most others I've heard about, including myself.

She got a new putter for her birthday, but Mr Science said, "What do you need that for?"

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