Monday, September 22, 2008
6908 Yds, Par 71, Slope 128, by Gary Panks
They Say: "The 280 acres that is now The Legacy Golf Resort was once a 7,500-acre ranch once owned by Dwight B. Heard at the turn of the century. The original three-grain silos, built in 1902, still remain along the 18th fairway and were once the tallest structures in Maricopa County. The Sierra Vista House, which marks the 1st tee, was visited on occasion by Theodore Roosevelt and Pancho Villa in the early 1900`s."
Gary Panks has done so many very good golf courses it makes me feel like a horrible curmudgeon to complain about them . . . click on this list to see the Pheonix courses we have played and rated . . . None of them have achieved a #1 ranking by Mr Science, but you can see that several that we have both ranked #2, and, for me, that says those courses could be #1, the best course in the Valley . . .
So now we have to consider The Legacy. I was awfully impressed this time, by the way this course just kicked my can: I wound up with a 55-47=102 . . . but I hadn't remembered it was a Panks design, so I added easily a dozen strokes to my score by mis-reading the greens -- I couldn't have saved that dozen, but I might have saved 6, anyway . . . 8^D . . . I show 6 3putts, including 5 on the front 9, and 3 straight lip-outs on #7, 8, 9. Had 2 or 3 burnt edges, too.
There were two holes on the front 9, also, where it took me 3 to get out of a fairway bunker, #3 & #9 . . . I ought not have been in those bunkers anyway, there's plenty of room to avoid 'em, but there I was, full of west-texas bravado that being in those bunkers was no penalty to me! I had 8 missed greens, 2 greenside bunkers, and a water-penalty, too . . .
I have critiqued -- as opposed to criticized, if you see what I mean -- Panks' designs before for being too wide open, too flat, too much the same, but I can't say that about this course . . . all day long I felt like the fairway bunkers were crimping my driving -- and as I say, I was in 2 or 3, sure enuff; tho' one might just mention that every par 4 & 5 seems to hit into a valley and then uphill to the green, the variety of those elevation changes keeps the interest from flagging; the fairways themselves undulate within those elevation changes so that it seemed like I never had a flat lie to work with, no matter where I hit the ball. And the greens, aside from being devilishly Panksian, many of them are elevated AND uphill, in the Jones / Cavanaugh way, which makes it really tough when you miss a green, having to hit those delicate pitch/chips up an 8 foot shaved embankment . . . it all plays much harder than the 128 slope, IMVHO.
#18 is a great hole and a good example of the primo shot values this course offers. You hit over a valley into a rising fairway, and it looks and feels like a very awkward shot. This is a shortish par 5, so I was thinking eagle, since I had nothing else to shoot for, but even after mascerating my drive, I still had 257 yds uphill to the green, off a hook lie. Even tho' that second shot didn't look that inviting, and the distance was a little outside my realistic 3wood range, especially uphill, I still went for it. I've gotten so good at the second shot at sanctuary I just think I can do it. But this is um, twice as uphill. Knowing that, I sliced the holy bejabbers out of it, into the plant nursery over on the right. Took a desert drop (being kind to myself) then lobbed the ball up onto the green. I tho't it might be close but it was 12 ft away, and I missed that putt, too, not realizing this was a Panks green.
I didn't find my scorecard from my previous visit, but I'd reckon that it was at least this bad -- probably from early in our Vision Quest, so that I didn't quite register the Panksian subtleties. The question for me, is whether I could consider it a candidate for Best in the Valley, to raise it from a 3 ranking to a 2 . . . Mr Science already does rank it a 2, just because the golf is good enough and the course conditions are excellent. It's more interesting than Corte Bella, but not as unique as Vistancia, nor as scenic as Sedona. It's more "finished" than Poston Butte, but not as burnished as Whirlwind Cattail.
Trying to decide is like trying to read a putt on a Panks green: even after looking at it from both sides, and with one-eye-at-a-time, I still can't see the break until I miss the putt, cuz I just putt it straight and firm at the hole and hope. I can't see how anyone could prefer it to Quintero, or Vista Verde, or We-ko-pa Saguaro, or Rancho Manana, but OTOH, it'd just be splittin' hairs to deny that it was a great course. If it's not a 2, it's as high a 3 as there could possibly be.