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Monday, July 07, 2008


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 . . .

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