Tuesday, September 02, 2008
They Say: "Measuring 7,190 yards from the championship tees and playing to a par 72, the Rees Jones course is certain to test any golfer. Yet, with as many as nine tees per hole, it’s also accessible to players of all skill levels. Dramatic elevation changes enhance the thrill of this desert golf masterpiece.
#3 among private courses in Desert Golf Magazine’s 2005 Top Ten
#10 on Golfweek’s 2006 list of top 100 Best Residential Golf Communities
#48 on Golfweek’s 2006 list of top 100 Best Modern Courses"
Mr Science said, on our way to the 9th green, "I think this has to be my new #1 favorite course in PHX."
Disapproving of such unusual, rash judgement from Mr Science, I asked, "why?"
"Well!" he said exasperatedly, "LOOK at it!" . . . 8^D . . .
And, in part, he meant #8, a savage, true 3-shot par 5 . . . you can sort of see how uphill the 2nd & 3rd shots are, but not quite. It IS a haul.
I found this hole a little too-too, in that the 1st shot has to be a lay-up . . . even IF one could reach the 2nd fairway, the risk-reward makes it just no-go . . . I hit 7wood to the middle of the first landing area, then 5wood up short of that first trap uphill on the right you can see in the photo, then flared a 4iron right of the green, miraculously not in the bunker nor off in the desert. Mr Science had hit 3hybrid left of where I was, then a 3wood short of the traps (absolutely no roll uphill on those wet, lush fairways), then flared his 7wood next to mine. He lob-wedged his ball halfway to the hole, where it released up onto the back tier. I sorta chip-pitched my PW onto the front of the green hoping it would roll up onto that ledge, but it stopped just on the slope up. We both missed those makeable putts. Great hole. Reminiscint to me of #4 at Rancho Manana, but I definitely felt a sense of grievance that I couldn't hit driver on such a long hole.
Then you come to the par 3 #9 . . . Mr Science said, "Boy, Rees Jones likes those downhill par 3s!"
"Thank God!" I said.
I piastered my 6iron high with a draw like I do in my daydreams . . . I was afraid it would be over the green, but it landed barely a yard over the water, 9 ft below the hole. Mr Science & The Defenestrator wound up pin high left of the green in the rough -- tantalizingly close, but a very tough up-and-down. I misread a break that wasn't there, and missed the birdie.
After a start of an 8 and 4 6s, I birdied another very downhill par 3 #6, then missed another easy birdie on #7, missed the par putt on #8, then another birdie on #9 . . . I was so grateful not to be averaging double-bogey anymore, I didn't care . . . it was my driving that was putting me a penalty shot in the hole every time. I don't know why . . . . I wound up 47-43=90, with just that 1 birdie, and 5 pars. I didn't drive well to start off, as I say, and I never did putt very well, but I did chip well. I was 1over on the par 3s, which are all awesome, downhill buggers, but I was 5 over on the par 5s . . . they all seemed to be uphill as much as the par 3s are downhill. #14 adds another twist: even from the elevated tee, your tee shot tends to dig into the hill face landing area, so that the 2nd shot is blind, too -- you know there's bunkers down there, but . . . then that uphill 3rd shot to the typically elevated Jones-style green . . . very tough, those elevated, uphill greens.
Legend Trail is the only other Rees Jones course here in PHX we've played -- as far as my records show . . . I'm thinking there's another, but it's not Dove Valley, like I tho't it was, which was done by his Father Robert Trent Jones, Jr, so I don't know . . . but this one is better than Dove Valley, as hard as Las Sendas, more beautiful than Vista Verde . . . so I kinda agree with Mr Science . . . I'm not ready to declare it my personal fave, but it's up there in the top 5 for sure . . . #8 ranks with #4 at Rancho Manana & #13 at Longbow as just impossible holes -- ones you gotta play 4 or 5 times to get a handle on it . . . the ludicrous difficulty of the par 5s reminds me of Los Caballeros at Wickenburg, when I think about it . . . but the Truth may be, from now on, that all the other good courses remind me of Quintero, instead, if you see what I mean.