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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.

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