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Saturday, August 16, 2008


McCormick Ranch - Pines

7187 Yds, Par 72, Slope 130, by Desmond Muirhead

I ducked out early of work Friday after a grueling week, to get a quick 18 in at Sanctuary, so quick I forgot to change my glasses from bifocals to my "golf" glasses. It freaks me out, hitting in bi-focals, but I decided to make it a training exercise, to look thru the tops, and keep my head still with a smooth swing . . . I tho't it would be easy, after I birdied the first hole, but periodically, I'd forget and get a bad shot from the vertigo that results when you switch frames of bifocal during a swing.

I felt like this was a breakthru of some sorts . . . letting my spine be straighter from cocyx to noggin, a purer axle of power, if you see what I mean . . . I hit several approaches over the green as a result . . . birdied 3 holes: #1, #14, #18, but had 2 Snowmen, too, after amazingly bad sand-play, so wound up with 42-43=85. I've just been playing once a week, so it was only to be expected that my short game would suffer . . . but I feel very confident on the Sanctuary greens, insouciant . . .on the first two birdies, I took no time at all, just a quick look and bang! in the cup.

on the par5 #18, I hit 2 five-woods . . . 247 off the tee to position A, then 228 to 15 ft past the pin, as soon as the group in front of me cleared the green . . . but I TOTALLY misread the putt, a foot right and 6 ft past, but just as nonchalant as the other birdies, all but one-handed it in . . .

So, I hoped that would put me in good stead for the next morning, my first time at the Pines at McCormick Ranch.
I started off strong, hitting 3woods off the tee since the 1st few holes were kinda obscure . . . without a guide or GPS or a yardage book, I couldn't tell what was what . . . I wound up 2 over after 3, coming into the attractive par5 #4 . . . I split the fairway with my drive, but hooked my 3wood from 260+ into the water short of the green. Hit a perfect little half-wedge into the green from there but missed the par putt. These greens were, the whole course was, reminiscint of Orange Tree, except better . . . instead of whorls it was just heavy bermuda. Kinda overwatered the same way, so I didn't get my roll in the fairway and the rough got ankle deep at times.

#6 was another one of my 8 missed greens on the front 9 . . . Hit a 5 wood to keep it short of the water (which this doesn't show how it wraps around the rough on the right, making the landing area even smaller than it looks here), but then hit my 4 iron fat, just short of the greenside trap. Lobbed my 3rd over the trap to makeable distance, but missed that putt, too. I can't complain . . . I had 5 pars, even with all those missed greens.
#11 is perhaps the most Muirheadish hole . . . like all the holes at McCormick Ranch, the fairway doesn't cause any palpitations -- there are some humps and hollows in the fairways, linksy-style, but when you get to this green, the whole front half is a false-front, sloping 30 degrees and crowned so it slopes left & right, too. . . I'd pulled my drive left so that I had a little tree trouble, but the main thing was that I just came up short with my 8iron trying to be too cute and stay below the pin on that false front . . . my 7iron chip blew 8 ft past the hole, leaving an impossible putt that I just lagged close for a tapin bogey. . .

#14'd hardly be worth mentioning, except that after I'd hooked my drive into the water, I plopped my approach into the left bunker. My sandshot wasn't a flub -- maybe a little of a dub -- just to the rough between the green and the sand, but I smartly chipped in from there to save bogey . . . I haven't chipped in often lately, but I'd almost holed a putted 3wood out of the rough, a la' Tiger on the par 3 #8, too.

The par 4 # 15 is the #1 handicap hole. I'd correctly sussed out that I needed to hit it as far as I could straight down the right side, but instead, in execution, I tomahawked it out onto that bulge on the left, left me 186. I decided to soft-peddle a half-7wood, but gave it a little extra, so even tho' the ball landed into the slope of the elevated green, it ran over the green and down the steep back, a yard short of the water on the back. I flopped it back up on top, only just then missed the 25 ft par putt. Good hole.

I wound up with a 40-44=84, one birdie on the par 5 #12, with 15 missed greens. Just abysmal. Those greens are small, but not THAT small. My two playing companions, Handy Han and Rhee, from Korea, studying at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, said at one point, while we waited on the group in front of us, "This course doesn't seem that hard, but our scores are terrible!" So I told them about Desmond Muirhead, how he designed outrageous courses, then started Jack Nicklaus off on course design -- I'm not sure how much comfort that was -- but this course is definitely harder-than-it-looks, but not because of condition.

I couldn't find a picture of that famous Fish Green Desmond did on the internet, so I made this poor imitation, but what I did find was this outrageous quote: "There has to be a kind of proportional exchange between abuse and exhilaration to make the hole interesting," he said. "If there isn't, if it's just straight thrill, then something is lacking. It's like the best sex is when you are angry. There is a blandness in most other golf courses. There is no blandness to ours. I am pleased with that."

I don't think either of the McCormick Ranch courses are as good as Angry Sex, or even Makeup Sex, and in fact, playing these courses is a lot like dealing with a spouse that's never quite pleased with anything you do, if you see what I mean . . . 8^D . . . but one still tries, doesn't one!

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