Posts Tagged ‘arizona’

We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro)

We-Ko-Pa Saguaro Course in Fort McDowell, AZ

wekopa saguaro

Sean, me, Ryan and Mike

The Stats

Tee Time: August 7, 2015, 7:58, 101 F, partly cloudy

Designer: Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, 2006

Playing Partners: Ryan Cohan, Sean Cohan, Mike Harvey

Tees: Purple, Par 71 (70.2 rating/132 slope/6,603 yards)

Course Handicap: 10 (8.1 index)

Stats: 83 (41-42); 36 putts; 9/14 fairways; 9/18 greens; 1 penalty stroke

The Course

Four years in the desert and I finally made the trip out to We-Ko-Pa Golf Club with summer rates begging me to play. The pair of courses, Saguaro and Cholla, come heralded as two of the finest places to play golf in the entire Southwest. It’s always a battle between the two here and the two at Troon North for the top spot in many rankings. The best part about being a resident is I can play all four and judge for myself. We started with the Saguaro, and I’ll be sure to loop back for the Cholla shortly. The Saguaro course is younger by a few years, having been commissioned after the Cholla course proved successful. Saguaro was designed by the elite duo of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, who have a “lay of the land” philosophy to designing the courses that has led to some world-class golf around the world. Just take a look at this resume! On top of the fantastic golf, We-Ko-Pa features some stunning desert scenery. I’d love to take my clubs and camera out for a twilight round and catch a radiant Arizona sunset over this layout. Even a morning with some rain produced some stunning photos. So stunning you might just look at the pictures and ignore all my three-putts.

wekopa saguaro hole 5

A dramatic view of the rain over the desert at the 5th tee

The first is one of many lengthy par 4’s. At 443 yards, it doglegs left with a wash about 100 yards short of the green. On the other end of the spectrum, there are also a few short par 4’s at the Saguaro course. Take the 299-yard 2nd for example. Up here in the drier air at 1,450 feet of elevation, the ball goes a bit further. There are four holes under 322 yards that are theoretically reachable with a great shot. This one slopes and kicks to the right, with bunkers waiting on the front and left of the green. There’s your reason to lay up right there. The 3rd is a tough, dogleg-left par 4 where you can’t see the green from the tee. And then there’s the monstrous par-5 4th, weighing in at 609 yards. A good drive to the crest leaves a nice view and an open second shot to set yourself up for a good approach. The first par 3 is the 159-yard 5th. It’s a fairly straightforward par 3 with a slight false front. It’s also the site of one of my favorite pictures taken of a golf course to date (see above). That one’s going to look sweet on the wall. Continue reading

Quintero Golf Club

Quintero Golf Club in Peoria, AZ

quintero golf club hole 3

The dangerous par-4 3rd

The Stats

Tee Time: May 24, 2015, 10:46, 84 F, breezy

Designer: Rees Jones, 2000

Playing Partners: Bob, Bud and Jim

Tees: Gold/Silver Combo, Par 72 (72.0 rating/140 slope/6,655 yards)

Course Handicap: 10 (8.1 index)

Stats: 89 (43-46); 30 putts; 8/13 fairways; 3/18 greens; 3 penalty strokes

The Course

Long weekend and the need to get away from the house led me an hour northwest to the highly-recommended Quintero Golf Club. It’s a long trek from Scottsdale, especially considering there are about 300 golf courses closer than this joint in Peoria. So instead of going through the tedious process of getting someone to drive with me to check it out, I just booked it on a 3-day weekend before the heat comes in. It all worked out, and I had the pleasure of playing with Bob, Bud and John Flanagan of New Jersey. They were as Jersey as they come. Not Jersey Shore, thankfully, but more Sopranos. Fun guys, though. They had no idea the battle they were about to put themselves through.

quintero golf club hole 4

Looking past a jumping cholla at the 4th tee

Quintero really is a spectacular golf course; it’s designed by the renowned Rees Jones, whose name is all over the country at some of the most revered courses in golf. The man clearly knows how to keep you on your toes. I’m pretty sure this is my first course of his. It’s well worth the drive. Once you get off the I-17 (if you’re coming from Phoenix or anywhere east of there), the scenery gets prettier by the mile as you pass by Lake Pleasant and head into the craggy hills. However, it’s remote. Quintero is as much a part of the Greater Phoenix area as Pluto is part of the solar system. Even the drive from the clubhouse to the first tee is 5-10 minutes in the golf cart, depending on how many volts you’ve got. On the first tee, my tips from the starter were “the fairways are wider than you think” and “the greens are stimping at 11.” That’s pretty damn fast; even the USGA only recommends 10.5 for the US Open.

It would've been a lot more fun if this guy gave me that Stimp reading

It would’ve been a lot more fun if this guy gave me that Stimp reading

Continue reading

SunRidge Canyon

SunRidge Canyon in Fountain Hills, AZ

sunridge canyon graig cj

CJ, Jim, Al and me

The Stats

Tee Time: March 22, 2015, 9:58, 84 F, calm

Designer: Keith Foster, 1995

Playing Partners: CJ Phelan, Al, Jim

Tees: Gold, Par 71 (70.1 rating/134 slope/6,403 yards)

Course Handicap: 9 (7.4 index)

Stats: 82 (37-45); 31 putts; 9/13 fairways; 7/18 greens; 3 penalty strokes

The Course

CJ came down for his first desert golf experience. Also, my first taste of golf since October, almost six months! (No, the 9-hole, 7-iron round doesn’t count). So after two planned days at Wildfire, to check out the LPGA, and Southern Dunes, a favorite of mine, CJ wanted more. My wallet and wrist were hurting, but who says no to more golf? Thankfully, we got a prime spot at SunRidge Canyon. If you’d been out with us, you might even notice we were golfing. We were paired up with another twosome, Jim and Al who made the day much more fun. Jim and CJ became best friends by the third hole, carrying conversations from tee to green while Al and I watched in amusement. They’d still be telling stories mid-backswing and be just fine. I was thankful for the company, because toward the end of the round, SunRidge Canyon features the “Wicked 6.” It is the selling point of this course, a tough 6-hole slog back up the canyon to finish your round. I laughed it off. I was wrong.

sunridge canyon hole 6

A view of Four Peaks from the 6th tee

Continue reading

2013 in Review

Last year, my USGA index skyrocketed to embarrassing heights and I scrambled for excuses in this year end post of 2012. And then I played the same type of schedule in 2013 and dropped down to my pre-season goal of a handicap in the 8’s, finishing at an 8.8. So I guess all my logic from last year didn’t hold water. Out of about 35 rounds, at least 20 were on courses new to me and I shaved 4 strokes off anyway. Only five rounds crept into the 90’s, and two of those were in February when I only had one working wrist. But only two rounds snuck into the 70’s, one of which won me $200. So now I’ve settled into a low 80’s threat in the midst of what are supposedly my prime physical years (though at the moment I look more like the “before” pic). So then what changed?

graig mantle kierland

This awesome swing was never the problem

Continue reading

TPC Scottsdale

TPC Scottsdale (Stadium) in Scottsdale, AZ

TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course

Steve, me and Mike

The Stats

Tee Time: June 23, 2013, 8:34, 102 F, Breezy

Designer: Tom Weiskopf/Jay Morrish (1986)

Playing Partners: Steve Walker, Mike

Tees: Blue, Par 71 (71.1 rating/129 slope/6,525 yards)

Course Handicap: 12 (10.9 index)

Stats: 95 (42-53); 32 putts; 7/14 fairways; 3/18 greens; 4 penalty strokes

The Course

The 16th during the Waste Management Open (see below for the look during every other weekend). Courtesy of theaposition.com/

The 16th during the Waste Management Open (see below for the look during every other weekend). Courtesy of theaposition.com.

The Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona is famous namely for one hole. You may have seen it before. It’s like the rodent on Groundhog Day. It comes out every February to a huge celebration, signaling the coming of spring. Only instead of hundreds of townspeople decked out in mittens and windbreakers gathering around a stage at Gobbler’s Knob to watch for Punxsutawney Phil to see his shadow, there are 20,000 sunbathing partygoers donning Rickie Fowler outfits and sun dresses, cheering for Phil Mickelson and booing Boo Weekley. It’s the 16th at the Stadium Course, and for four days each year during the Waste Management Open, this 162-yard chip shot is the most exciting shot in golf. A temporary arena with 172 skyboxes is erected for the crowd to pack in and boo every missed green, cheer for colors during the caddy races and down pints of beer during downtime. There is no other hole like it in all of golf. By mid-June things change dramatically. Patches of brown matted grass mark where the supports for the grandstands once stood and the stoic McDowell Mountains replace the shouting frat boys as the backdrop of the green. Stepping up to the tee and seeing no resemblance to this glamorous rockstar hole is striking, like seeing a porn star without makeup.

TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course hole 16

This is what the loudest hole in golf looks like without her makeup on

Continue reading

Apache Stronghold Golf Club

Apache Stronghold Golf Club in San Carlos, AZ

Apache Stronghold Geronimo statue

Geronimo, after his legendary skirmish with Harvey Nash, now waits to attack any golfer who dares to search for lost balls

The Stats

Tee Time: April 7, 2013, 8:00, 79 F, Light wind

Designer: Tom Doak/Jim Urbina (1999)

Playing Partners: None (it was completely empty, I finished in 122 minutes)

Tees: Warrior (72.1 rating/138 slope/7,007 yards)

Course Handicap: 15 (12.5 index)

Stats: 93 (50-43); 37 putts; 4/14 fairways; 4/18 greens; 3 penalty strokes

The Course

The vast expanse of desert east of Phoenix is rich with the history of Arizona’s frontier days, tales of Geronimo’s adventures and also a golf course. Keep a sharp eye out for that last one. Apache Stronghold Golf Club meanders through the lands of the San Carlos Apache tribe in Tonto National Forest, about 10 minutes east of Globe and 90 miles from downtown Phoenix. The fairways and greens mesh seamlessly with the surrounding wild grasses and sand, giving the whole course a natural look so often absent from nearby places that would have you believe lush green Bermuda grass, brilliant blue lakes and fluffy bunkers are “desert” golf. The length, design and elevation are very similar to Rochelle Ranch in Wyoming, while the rustic style and idea that the desert alone can be a worthy foe evokes memories of Southern Dunes in Maricopa. Then there are other factors that make Golfweek’s #39 Casino Course unique.

Apache stronghold golf club hole 4

Like a runaway horse in the fairway, followed soon after by the owner in a golf cart chasing her

Continue reading

Scottsdale Silverado Golf Club

Silverado Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ

graig mantle pat spomer

Pat and I

The Stats

Tee Time: March 23, 2013, 12:04, 75 F, Breezy

Designer: Ross Graves/Jack Gilmore (2000)

Playing Partners: Pat Spomer, Ray and Dwight

Tees: Gold (68.0 rating/116 slope/6,313 yards)

Course Handicap: 13 (12.9 index)

Stats: 82 (43-39); 29 putts; 3/12 fairways; 5/18 greens; 2 penalty strokes; 1 eagle

The Course

Scottsdale Silverado Golf Club has the benefit of being the nicest golf course in the immediate vicinity of Old Town. That being said, it isn’t on par with the other tracks that make Scottsdale a prime golf destination. There is enough here to make it memorable, however. An excellent back nine saves the place from mediocrity and challenging greens make even the most straightforward holes just a bit tougher. Unfortunately, this course skews more toward the executive style of play rather than the fantastic resort style of Talking Stick, its closest neighbor.

Continue reading