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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.

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