Sunday, December 20, 2009

Kierland Golf Club Scottsdale AZ

Kierland Golf Club Dec 14, 2009

. This is a wonderful course centrally located in North Scottsdale AZ, with beautifully designed holes and wonderful greens. They have added a very clever feature there. One transportation option they give you, in addition to walking (and not many places allow you to walk around here) or riding a cart, is taking a segway. You have probably seen these around, maybe even tried one. You stand on it and with the shifting of your body weight you get it to move forward, backward and turn from side to side. The ones there are even set up with hardware to carry your golf bag… Pretty slick.

We started with about ½ hour of training, learning how to get on and off and steer and adjust the speed. Hills are a challenge, especially side hills, but after a few holes I was completely comfortable on it and had a blast using it on my round. Unfortunately we were still a couple weeks from not being cart path only for the season. I think this would be much more fun and practical when you can take it on the fairway. Learn more about these at

The practice facility is outstanding with plenty of well-marked targets and practice green that seems to run at a similar speed to the rest of the course and a good short game area, which many clubs seem to overlook.

Kierland is centrally located in north Scottsdale and has 27 holes of wonderful golf designed by Scott Miller, one of the leading golf architects here in the Phoenix valley.

The clubhouse is stunning and even has a locker room, which very few public clubs have here in the Phoenix area, so if you need a shower before you dash to the airport, you can do that here. The proshop is a work of art in itself and has won several “ top 100 golf shop” awards

We played the Acacia and Ironwood nines (there is a Mesquite too). There are more than 300 bunkers on these courses and plenty of water to make it a most picturesque golf course. One of the things that sets it apart from many golf courses here in Phoenix is that if you hit a wayward tee shot, it may end up in an adjacent fairway rather than lost in the desert. But don’t let that fool you into thinking this is easy. There is plenty of challenge around the greens and the greens are tricky to read.

We played it from 6300 yards but for the big hitters, it can be stretched to almost 7000 yards or just under 5,000 for the ladies. One nice thing, is there are only a couple of forced carries over the desert, so it’s quite friendly in that way.

If you need help with your game, Mike and Sandy LaBauve run the instruction academy here and both are top 100 instructors. I have not taken a lesson from either, but their reputations are stellar.

This course is affiliated with the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa which features 735 rooms and all of that great Westin quality.

They also feature a fore-max golf fitness program which I am hoping to try and write about in my next article

You should check the rates on the website because they vary so much, but they range from$140.00 in the fall to as high at $215 in the winter, but they do have some more affordable twilight rates as well. For more information:
phone 480-922-9283

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sweetgrass nabs new Golf Digest award

Sweetgrass Golf Club, at Island Resort & Casino on the Michigan Upper Peninsula, announced it earned Golf Digest magazine's "America's Best New Courses 2009" honor, adding to the roster of awards garnered from high-profile, national publications.

Owned and operated by the Hannahville Band of the Potawatomi Nation, Sweetgrass is an 18-hole, par-72 designed by Paul Albanese. The layout interestingly pays homage to Native American lore of the tribe. Historic bridges rescued from the region, intricate rockwork and a liberal sprinkling of the namesake sweetgrass add to the course's unique look and feel.

See my older posts for a more complete review.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Waste Management replaces FBR as title sponsor for Phoenix Open

Waste Management is the new title sponsor of the Phoenix Open.
In a deal announced on Dec 10 at the TPC Scottsdale, Waste Management, a Houston-based company with a large Arizona presence, will take over as title sponsor of the PGA Tour's February stop in the Valley, with it's new name: Waste Management Phoenix Open.

FBR is out. They had the rights to renew for 2010 but are now being replaced.
The 2010 event will be held , Feb. 25-28. and is expected to return to its regularly scheduled dates opposite the Superbowl in the future.

This event has the largest crowds on the PGA tour and often refers to itself as the Greatest show on grass. Its crowds are also known as the biggest partiers. So jokes will abound with crowds on the famed #16 getting wasted etc. Maybe they will change the name of the birds nest to the Dumpster dive.

At least they still have a sponsor and probably won't care if Tiger even shows up, which he rarely does anyway

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Does Tiger deserve what he is going through

For years now Tiger has used the media to his great advantage, becoming the most recognizable athlete in the world and from that he has earned hundreds of millions of dollars of endorsements.

Now the media has caught him in some bad behavior and he wants his privacy. Well he can't have it both ways. You either live with the media or you don't.
Unfortunately America loves stories like this and thus the media, give them to us, because they want the viewers and readers.

If Tiger wants his privacy back he should consider dropping all of his endorsements and anything else that brings him into the limelight. I am sure a few million in future income is not going to effect his lifestyle

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pete Dye Golf Club at French Lick

French Lick Resort, the award winning resort destination located in southern Indiana, has earned its most accomplished golf honor to date. The new Pete Dye course has been selected "Best New Public Course" in the country by Golf Digest.

Golf Digest's annual review of America's Best New Courses appears in the January 2010 issue and covers the best new courses in the public, private, Canadian, and remodeled categories.

If you go to my older posts you will see review of this golf course, which from the tips, plays to 8102 yards.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Talking Rock Prescott AZ

Talking Rock
Prescott AZ
The traditional architecture of the great ranches of Central Arizona lives at Talking Rock. Located 12 miles north of Prescott AZ (and approx 2 hours north of Phoenix), this pristine piece of property sits at approx 5,000 feet of elevation and most of the property provides the visitor endless 75 mile vistas over the rolling hills that engulf you in this neck of the woods. As you approach the gate it is clear you are in ranch country.

The golf course, built in 2000, designed by Jay Morrish, who until several years ago was teamed with Tom Weiskopf and together they designed many award winning and top 100 golf courses. About an hour away they designed the top rated course in AZ, Forest Highlands in Flagstaff. They also designed the TPC of Scottsdale where the FBR Open is played every year.

It plays to 7350 yards, but that is too much for me so we played it at 6400 yards. The fairways provide generous landing areas but the challenge really creeps in as you close in on the greens. Moorish has a certain genius about his visual acuity and set up. He has a devilish way of fooling the eye with bunkers that appear near a green that are really 20-30 yards in front and washes and gorges that are hidden from view, unless you studied the yardage book on each hole.
The greatest example of this is number 15, what some would call a drivable par-4. but a fooler to the eye. Drivable par-4’s are a signature of Jay Morrish.
He uses that same sneaky capability on the greens, which are large and appear rather flat, but are far from it and very tricky to read. The greens run quick and true and leave many a visitor making three putts. This may sound daunting but it is truly a fabulous golf course and if you have the opportunity to play it, carpe diem. I was reminded of a great quote by Alister Mackenzie. He was asked how he made such flat looking greens so devlish and he said” I try to hire the village idiot and instruct him to produce perfectly flat greens”
The fairways are firm giving you plenty of roll and supporting crisp iron play. The greens,similarly were in wonderful condition. Its Dec 4 and its their winter here, because there is occasional frost, they don’t move the pin positions on a daily basis this time of year. There are 3 or 4 hole locations per green and the pin positions not in use that day still have their cup but are fitted with a cover over the top. Well enough done that I am sure you could putt over them.
The greens are large, creating several pin locations to choose from to change things up from day to day. The largest green on the course, number 18, is 51 yards deep. Just to give you some perspective that is farther than most NFL kickers can kick a field goal.
It was warm from 1:00 to 3:00 and not so warm after that, but this is not Phoenix weather and high season here is May through Oct

In true ranch tradition, rather than an opulent club house they have created the “Ranch compound” a group of bldgs that blend magnificiently into the environmental surroundings. The compound consists of The Ranch House, with its wonderful restaurant, The barn fitness center, the tack house with its locker rooms and Pro Shop. The layout offers plenty of enterainment spaces in the great outdoors surrounding the compound. You see the great outdoors is a way of life around here.


Threre are almost 1500 homesites on this 3500 acre ranch, but they are well set back from the holes and do not infringe on the course. The concept is “traditional rural ranch” with stone and wood exteriors (no stucco here). If you look at the homes that have been built here you know you are on a ranch.

In addition to the golf there is swimming, tennis and 30 miles of nature and hiking trails. So there is plenty of activities to choose from. Homesites range from $100,000-$350,000 and completed homes from $600k.

It is 12-20 degrees cooler here than Phoenix, so this is the place to be in the summer and the summer nights are even cooler. An ideal respite from the stifling heat of Phoenix’s summer.

This is a private club, but in the interest of attracting new members, thay now have a stay and play package. For $450 you get either 2 rounds of golf or spa treatments and a stay in a georgeous 2400 square foot 3 bedroom villa. If you are in the area this is a must do.

If you go:
Located 2 hours north of the Phoenix airport and 12 miles north of Prescott.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Grayhawk Golf Club Scottsdale AZ

Grayhawk Golf Club Scottsdale AZ

Today I played the Grayhawk Golf Club Talon course, in Scottsdale AZ. Their second course is called Raptor This is one of the premier public tracks here in the Phoenix area and many people come to play it. It was designed by Gary Panks and David Graham and is definitely one of the more challenging tracks in the valley. From the tips it plays nearly 7000 yards and is rated at 73.6 with a slope of 143. For comparison sake, the hardest slope the USGA gives out is 151.

Many PGA tour pros play and hang out here in “Phil’s Grill” Today I saw Gary McCord on the practice putting green, getting ready for his round. We played it from 6400 yards and it’s plenty challenging from that distance. The landing areas appear tighter than they actually are, which is intimidating from the tee box and the greens and collection areas around the greens are good sized with lots of undulations. The greens may be challenging but they are in terrific condition and putt true and beautifully. One saving grace on the scorecard is what they refer to as the local desert rule. If you hit it in the desert, play it as a lateral hazard rather than a lost ball. The holes have names like Bogle, Deception and Heaven or Hell which should give you a picture of the challenge that faces you at the Talon course.

The clubhouse here is one of the most inviting and beautiful of all the public courses in the Phoenix area. The proshop wins awards regularly and it is warmly laid out. It even boasts a locker room, one of the few daily fee courses to do so, with lots of Tour player memorabilia and a shower and towels if you have to clean up after sweating yourself through 18 holes.

The front nine blends beautifully with the surrounding McDowell Mountains and keeping your eye on Pinacle Peak in the distance will give you a big clue as to how your putts will break “down valley” on these multi-tiered greens. The back 9 is built around several box canyons, that love to gobble up ProV1’s.

For the last couple years they have hosted the open. Also it is home to the Kostis McCord learning school, a great place to tune up your game before trying this course out. For more info visit

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


San Antonio TX
Nov 9-14 2009
The stars at night are big and bright
Deep in the heart of Texas

So the song goes, I am deep in the heart of Texas. San Antonio is the second largest city nestled in the midst of our nations second largest state.
An earlier Spanish territory, fifty legendary missions settled in Texas. And five of these settlements are still standing in San Antonio. The most famous is the historic Alamo, still popular today for mans overwhelming desire for freedom at any cost, and Texas’ most popular tourist attraction.
As popular as it has been for tourists visiting the Alamo and the famed river walk, San Antonio is fast becoming a leading golf destination.

Westin La Cantara
A visit to the Westin La Cantera Hotel draws from the colorful bounty of Texas history. The lobby recalls a time when gigantic wooden doors, wrought iron gates, and oversized, leather furniture graced the homes of massive landowners such as the “Big House” of the King Ranch in Texas. Large, welcoming fireplaces are patterned after this million-acre estate. (just how big is one million acres?)The surrounding casita village also has design elements from other noteworthy ranches in Texas, with the brand of each ranch over the fireplace of each casita. The hotels multi-million dollar renovation features plush sleeping rooms, a 7600 square foot workout facility and spa, lost quarry pools, tennis courts and an extensive meeting space to satisfy both vacationer and business clientele. All this but it is the terrific golf courses that got my attention and that are starting to draw golf enthusiasts from near and far.

The Resort Course at La Cantera has hosted the Texas Open for the past 14 years. It is a Weiskopf-Morrish design that opened in 1995. The fairways and rough are in pristine condition with year round Bermuda grass. Over-seeding the tee boxes and greens with rye for the winter ensures a beautifully lush landscape. The elevation changes mimic a mountain golf course and add to the sprawling scenery.
Hole # 1 is an eye opener, over 600 yard long, downhill, “grip it and rip it” beginning, sure to super-charge even the longest of hitters. Number 2 is a virtual u-turn par 4; one shot out from the tee and turn back for your second shot towards the cup. Hole #7 is one of the more interesting holes on the course. Teeing off from the top of an old limestone rock quarry wall to a fairway 100 feet below, you aim your tee shot towards the top of the Six Flags Theme Park rollercoaster.
. Sporting many elevated tees, the course comes to life in the second half with it ‘s more private setting. In fact, the tee box on 11 is the highest point on the property. Number 12 is the former signature hole. Following an easy tee shot, the second approach shot carries over a ravine that beautifully guards the green. Hole #16 is a challenging 340-yard par 3 with pot bunkers all through the fairway. It looks like a minefield and is sure to rattle your grip.
The Resort Course at La Cantera is going to stay a great place even after the Texas Open moves next year. Steve Shields, his staff, and all of the employees at the Westin enhance your experience with friendly, courteous, Texas hospitality. It’s a perfect golf destination during its peak weather conditions in October, November, March, and April.

The Palmer Course at La Cantara

The Palmer Course at the Westin La Cantara opened in 2001, and it is my personal favorite. Sprawling vistas, sprouting rock outcroppings, and flowing waterways bedazzle even the most spoiled golfers. It boasts a higher slope rating than the Resort Course and adds about 8 shots to your scorecard.
Hole # 1 is an easy par 4 that invites a cheery disposition. You are then introduced to the beauty of San Antonio from the hilltop view from the second tee box. And from then on, you are guaranteed to be awed by the stunning sights below.
Number 4 is one of the prettiest par threes I have ever seen. It is here that Arnold Palmer pays homage to his loving wife Winnie with a hole featuring a tranquil pond, a flower studded island, a rock waterfall and an artful wooden bridge dedicated to her memory. Holes #8 and #9 are both uphill treks heading back towards the beautiful Spanish style clubhouse, framed by a stepped rock waterfall that feeds into a running stream in front of the green. It is here you may want to grab a cold drink and enjoy the splendid course design.
Then its back up a hill on #10 to a blind green that is sculpted into a grotto, and soon followed by #13, a down hill, 100 foot drop par three. It all finishes with an up and down par 4 that drops steeply to the green in front of the clubhouse. Wow! This may be Arnold Palmers best vision as an architect.
The scenic ride on the golf course is sure to spawn your appetite, so be sure to dine at the magnificent Francescos Restaurant in the Westin Hotel where we found the veal loin in a spicy mole sauce, a unique cornbread tourine, and a Ceasar salad with a Texas-style kick to make for an outstanding dining experience following golf.

Boudro’s Dinner Cruise along the River Walk
When the sun sets and golf has to stop, Take some time to explore the famous river walk of downtown San Antonio. And try a dinner cruise departing from Broudro’s Restaurant. The riverboat seats about 20 people and boasts a tasty menu of Texas ribeye, crab filled enchiladas, prickly-pear margaritas, and pecan coated ice cream treats. The entertaining guide on our boat explained the history of Texas and specifically, San Antonio. It would take a complete article unto itself to tell you the colorful history of the Alamo, San Antonio Cathedral, the waterways construction, and other aspects of life in San Antonio. So I will just leave this to a qualified tour guide.
We met with just such a charming city guide, named Sissy the next day who detailed the unique lore of San Antonio and a few local landmarks. Aside from the ever- popular Alamo, San Antonio features a Mexican Mercantile (with authentic Mexican vanilla), cobblestone courtyards, city parks, and an old brewery built by its German citizens a century ago. It explains why you might hear an accordion among the instruments of a serenading Mexican street band.
guest fees: $125 Mon thru Thurs $140 Fri thru Sun

The Quarry Golf Club
This is our last day in San Antonio and we are playing the Quarry Golf Club. It was built in 1993 and designed by Keith Foster, one of his first and a terrific track. It plays like 2 different golf courses: the front nine is links style and the back nine is through an old limestone quarry, that used to be the source for the Alamo cement company. There are no trees in play and maybe not a tree in sight, but don’t let that fool you, that just makes it easier for the wind to get you. If the wind isn’t enough, it has plenty of rock, boulders, water and ledges and fescue.

Unlike La Cantara it is all Bermuda grass. Not having been over seeded, the fairways run firm and fast. For a public course it was in wonderful condition. . It plays 6740 from the tips, short by today’s standards and to par 71.
Number One is a welcoming opener and on number three water starts coming into play on a beautiful par-three. Number 5, called watery grave, is the only par-five on the front 9 and has water on both sides. And plenty of fescue surrounding the fairways. Be careful here!!

As you pass through the tunnel to number 10 a whole new world of golf opens up as you enter the old quarry. You can see every hole on the back 9 from the 10th tee box. These holes back here are the most interesting and challenging as you wind your way through quarry walls rock outcroppings and water that fills in the deepest part of the old quarry. Numbers 13 and 16 are by far the most unique as you hit around the water and tee off from an old rock ledge down to the old quarry floor.

Annie liked how the course sets up for women, and the Callaway clubs we used today were wonderful. In fact I may like the irons better than my own

The service was outstanding from the proshop to the starter and beverage girl. But on #7 the pro even showed up to take a lunch order for the turn. Now that’s service!!
For more info visit
Rates this time of year are $65.00 Sun – Thurs, $95 on Fri and Sat. and $49 twilight

Pete Dye Golf Club at French Lick

Last summer I wrote about the new Pete Dye Golf Club at French Lick (see old posts May 2009) and told you it was the longest course I have ever seen and it turns out to be one of the very longest courses in existence at 8102 yards.

It's latest accolade comes from Golfweek magazine, . The new Pete Dye course, which opened this year, is ranked No. 27, and will be the host site of the 2010 PGA of America's Professional National Championship.

It is interesting that at the PGA Championship, I had a conversation with Pete Dye and he very clearly took a stand on the fact that the USGA needs to better regulate the golf ball so that it does not go so far. He talked about how the length of golf courses today is getting ridiculously long, well beyond the capability of the average golfer and requires too much land and subsequently too much maintenance. All this after building an 8102 yard golf course.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Julie and Julia

I just saw the movie Julie and Julia. Why would I write about that in a golf blog you ask? Good question!!! The way I saw this movie, Julies life in the kitchen was just like my life on the golf course… She decided to cook 524 Julia Child recipes in 365 days. She started a blog about it which eventually led to a book and then a movie (I do not have a movie deal).
Meryl Streep was fantastic as Julia Child and this was a thoroughly entertaining movie as it moved from flashbacks of Julia Child’s life and her dream of getting published to Julies dream of completing her very long-term goal of cooking all this food. To me it was a reflection of my life lived out in the kitchen rather than a golf course. She was tenacious in her goal!! There were several sacrifices to achieve it!! She had her ups and down and came close to quitting more than once!! And finally came a book and notoriety in the press. Like me she felt like she was writing in the blogesphere and no one was reading it, but eventually they were. It’s a wonderful story and I recommend it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

In Korea they are singin “Everybody Yang Chung Tonight”

In Korea they are singin “Everybody Yang Chung Tonight”
Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska MN

Y.E Yang pulled off quite the upset today, beating Tiger Woods in the final round of the PGA Championship. He took home the Wanamaker trophy and 1.3 million dollars. Not bad for a weeks work for a man who came to Chaska MN ranked 110 in the World Golf Rankings, and didn’t take up the game of golf until the age of 19. He has moved to Dallas TX but at his press conference on Sunday, it became clear that he can barely speak English. He conducted this press conference (the longest of his life according to him) through an interpreter.
He played in the last group with Tiger, facing not only Tigers intimidating demeanor but the intimidating crowds and media that follow Tiger.
He became the first ever to beat Tiger Woods in 15 tries in the final round of a major championship when Woods either held or shared the lead after the third round.
He also records the largest comeback ever to win a PGA Championship, rallying from nine strokes back of Woods after the fifth hole of the second round this week.

This man is no longer “a regular Joe” and the media spotlight will shine brightly on him for the next year. It would not surprise me if he gets a "Ticker Tape parade" when he returns to Korea. The demands on his time will be extraordinary from every direction that you can possibly imagine.
Is he a “one hit wonder” a term they would use in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? There are several examples in recent years of people who could not get used to having their lives so seriously turned upside down, which was followed by a fall from grace. I hope he handles it well. As a player he deserves to continue standing on a great championship stage.

One more interesting note, the media guide that is issued by the PGA lists the player’s biographies in alphabetical order. The final two in the guide are the same two as in yesterdays final pairing. Woods and Yang.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More from the PGA Championship

American Express has a promotion here at the PGA Championship. If you have an Am Ex card they loan you a portable TV for the day. The video feed is from Kangaroo TV and it has several channels: leader boards, XM radio coverage, weather, tee times, TNT, CBS coverage, marquee channel (following Mickelson in the morning and Tiger in the afternoon) and it even has a find a player feature: enter their name and you can find their exact location on the course. I have always said “ Golf is a wonderful TV sport. It’s better to watch golf on TV rather than live, because you have to be lucky to be at the right place at the right time if you are on the course” This gives the patron the best of all worlds.

Two interesting stories are being followed closely here in the media room in addition to Tigers dominance. Ryo Ishikawa, from Saitama Japan is 17 years old and 5’7” and 140 pounds sopping wet. He ranks 59th in the world, made the cut and shot 74/74/ so far. On Friday he wore the brightest lime green pants I have ever seen, you almost needed sunglasses to look at him.

The other is Alvaro Quiros from Cadiz, Spain. The media guide calls him “a player clearly licensed to thrill” He is as handsome as they come, also made the cut with 69/76 and on the first two days his driving average is 328 yards, the longest in this field, 12 yards longer than Tiger. If he ever decides to give up professional golf, he could probably make a fortune endorsing clothing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

91st PGA Championship at Hazeltine

I am covering the PGA Championship at Hazeltine Golf club in Chaska MN. I have written about golf travel, but this is my first time covering tournament golf.

I just attended a press conference with Tiger Woods, commenting about the “on the clock” issue he was involved in last week. He said that he has heard from the PGA and there will be no fine. Thank goodness for that, because I feel like that was a call by an official who was just seeking his 15 minutes of fame. He seems to have gotten it, unfortunately.
Some of the questions the media ask Tiger are ridiculous. One man asked “You are known for a strong finish in golf tournaments. In college when you ran cross country, did you have a strong kick at the end?” Really what kind of question is that and who cares? But Tigers answer was clever. “That poor kick, is one of the reasons I took up golf”

I played Hazeltine several times, and of course it is on the Golf Digest Top 100, so I wrote about one of my experiences in my book “A Golfers Dream” They have lengenthed it to 7674 yards now and even Tiger said today after his practice round how tough and long its playing. “But its in great shape.” For the first time in major championship history, three of the par-5s this week will stretch at least 600 yards. The third hole at Hazeltine National Golf Club measures 633 yards; No. 11 is 606 yards; and the 15th hole covers 642 yards. The 572-yard seventh hole at Hazeltine National is the lone par-5 of less than 600 yards. You can’t mention this without noting that #12 is a 518- yard par 4

Of course when I played it, I did so at 6400-6500 yards and I can’t even imagine trying to conquer this at a beastly 7600. I will say, however that a few weeks ago I played the new Pete Dye Golf Club at French Lick IN and it plays 8102 from the tips. Is this length thing ever going to stop? It puts many courses out of tournament range and brings havoc to course maintenance budgets.

The clubhouse at Hazeltine will be torn down and replaced this year. I guess when you have the revenue of the PGA Championship behind you, a club has many options. It is a pretty worn out bldg, but I hate to see the locker room go. With the several championships that have been played here, many greats of golf have sat, changed clothes, and showered in that lockeroom. That makes it a very special place, like the lockerooms at Augusta, Shinnecock, Winged Foot. I wish there was a way to keep the lockeroom and build a new clubhouse around it, but I certainly do not expect that to happen
98 of the top 100 players are in this field, making it the strongest field of the season. There were 99 but Trevor Immelman withdrew today with a wrist injury.
More later

Aquafina a sponsor of the PGA Championship

I am a working member of the media for th PGA Championship at Hazeltine this week. This is a privlidge and an honor to be working with some of the best golf writers in the world.
Aquafina water is a sponsor of the PGA Championship here at Hazeltine GC. Aquafina, as you may know, is owned by Pepsi Cola. They are the official water of the tournament. If you bring a plastic bottle of water onto the championship grounds, they require you to tear off the label if its not Aquafina. Pepsi says it is not a contractual requirement of the sponsorship and that it is a courtesy extended by the Championship, but I think that this restrictive policy is generating bad vibes for both the tournament and Aquafina. Whoever made this decision should reverse it. The publicity they are getting makes them both look foolish.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A GOLFER'S DREAM now avail on Kindle


· If you have a kindle, or know someone who does, visit or send them to:
· click on get your kindle today
· look in the kindle store and click kindle books
· then in the search bar type A Golfer’s Dream

It can be purchased and downloaded to the Kindle for $8.95

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 2009 Golf trip to Iowa

Sat 11 July, 2009
I am visiting 2 friends of mine in Fairfield IA. This was a typical IA farm town until 20 some years ago when Parson’s college went out of business and sold the campus to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.. and the Maharishi University was born. Now the community of just under 10,000 is 55% old town folks and approx 45% meditators who are there to support the university community.

We went to play golf yesterday at Ottumwa golf club which is 109 years old and has to be one of the oldest golf courses west of the Mississippi. Bob Moreland, the head pro showed me a picture on the wall. “See this group of men?” This is the first ever Masters field at Augusta” Then he pointed to a man in the back row. “That’s my dad” Now that photo took my breath away.

Today we played Spirit Hollow in Burlington IA, in the southern part of the state and just a few miles from the Mississippi River. My day began by asking the starter how
Spirit Hollow got its name. He did not know so one of us gave him a story that could at least suffice as an answer if he were ever asked again.
It was not widely known that the fictional character of Ichabod Crane ever traveled west of the Mississippi, but after his encounter with the Headless horseman in Sleepy Hollow, he did escape to this land in Burlington IA and following a very spiritual experience here, fell asleep for weeks, right in one of their craggy canyons of this golf course.

Spirit Hollow was honored by Golf Magazines Thrifty fifty a few years ago, a list of top courses you can play for under $50.00. This 7300-yard course, from the tips, meanders its way through hundred-year-old trees, streams, and many 40-80 yard elevation changes. The views from some of the elevated tee boxes are stunning. It is designed by Rick Jacobson, whom I had never heard of, but I learned, used to work for Jack Nicklaus design. He may be unknown now, but if this is any example of his work, you are gonna hear about him in the future. This was one of his first projects, completed in 1999 and he must have had quite a vision to take the terrain he found and turn it into such an interesting and enjoyable golf course.

There is water and streams on 8 of the holes and many of them play down hill, where you can see exactly how the hole lays out in front of you and enjoy some breathtaking views of the rolling hills of IA. The stream babbles across and next to many of the holes on the course adding plenty of challenge, beauty and serenity.
Most recently they played host to a 2007 U.S. Amateur qualifier, quite an accomplishment unto itself.
#9 is a teriffic risk- reward hole playing from 410- 321 yards. You can risk it and try to drive the green over a wetlands and pond, which drops through a waterfall to another pond behind the green, into a blind landing area, in front of or on the green, or take the down hill fairway to the left and come back right to the green. Its not only beautiful but an outstanding challenging design. I was very happy with the 44 I shot on the front 9.
The back 9 is a bit more challenging and I also did not play as well, so my score went up a bit.
#18 is a teriffic downhill finishing par-5 crossing the stream on the tee shot and back over the stream to a slightly elevated green as we brought this wonderful day to a conclusion.

The rates are a bargain at $60.00 including unlimited range balls and carts with very accurate GPS systems. They have a wonderful junior golf program where they let the kids play for $16.00 with a cart. They do have “stay and play packages” at both the PZAZZ! or Catfish Bend Inn and Spa luxury suite hotel. call Spirit Hollow toll-free at 1-866-898-9349 or visit For this money, if I lived here, I would be proud to call this my home course.

Sunday July 12, 2009
We are off to play Amana Colonies golf course just 15 miles from the Cedar Rapids IA airport. I have heard wonderful things about this course for years and it is a terrific layout. Unfortunately, they had 2” of rain two days prior. Yesterday they were cart path only, today you can drive on it but it’s soggy like a sponge, not the greatest conditions. Balls are plugging in the fairways, there is no roll and the greens are running slow. They have not been able to get a mower out for a couple days, so this causes the greens to be even slower and many of the bunkers either have standing water in them or have been washed out. Having said that, this is still a wonderful track.
There are woods and gorse along most of the holes and lots of elevation changes, leaving some pretty wonderful vistas from the tee boxes, probably more than yesterday. This makes it a beautiful course as it meanders through the woods and its slope from the tips is 142, that is pretty difficult. By comparison the highest slope the USGA issues used to be 151, although I have heard that some courses are getting higher slopes these days.

This course is celebrating its 20th anniversary and was designed by Jim Spears, another designer I have never heard of, but this is wonderful. Golf Magazine recognized it as one of the “Top 10 best new public courses in America in 1990 and I can see why.

The Amana Colonies are just outside of Cedar Rapids. Their website tells the following history:
Amana colonies was founded in 1855. Amana means to remain true. Six villages were established, a mile or two apart, across a river valley tract of some 25,000 acres . The Amana Colonies became one of America's longest-lived and largest religious communal society.
In the seven villages, residents received a home, medical care, meals, all household necessities and schooling for their children. Property and resources were shared. Men and women were assigned jobs by their village council . No one received a wage. No one needed one.
Farming and the production of wool and calico supported the community, but village enterprises, everything from clock making to brewing, were vital, and well-crafted products became a hallmark of the Amanas. Craftsmen took special pride in their work as a testament of both their faith and their community spirit. The Amana villages became well known for their high quality goods and strong work ethic.
Over 50 communal kitchens provided three meals daily to Colonists. These kitchens were operated by the women of the Colony and well supplied by the village smokehouse, bakery, ice house and dairy and by huge gardens, orchards and vineyards maintained by the villagers.
Children attended school six days a week year-round until the age of 14. Boys were assigned jobs on the farm or in the craft shops, while girls were assigned to a communal kitchen or garden. A few boys were sent to college for training as teachers, doctors and dentists.
In 1932, amidst America's Great Depression, Amana set aside its communal way of life. A ruinous farm market and changes in the rural economy contributed, but what finally propelled the change was a strong desire on the part of residents to maintain their community. By 1932, the communal way of life was seen as a barrier to achieving individual goals, so rather than leave or watch their children leave, they changed. They established the Amana Society, Inc., a profit-sharing corporation, to manage the farmland, the mills and the larger enterprises. Private enterprise was encouraged. The Amana Church was maintained.
Evocative of another age, the streets of the Amana Colonies with brick, stone and clapboard homes, flower and vegetable gardens, lanterns and walkways, recall Amana yesterday. This community today is vibrant, celebrating both its past and its future.
If you want to visit the Amana colonies and play this wonderful golf course they do have a stay and play package. Visit or call 800-383-3636

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Pete Dye Course at French Lick
This course just opened April 24. It is so new that it has not even had 100 rounds played on it yet. It is also so new that it has not been sloped or rated yet. And if Pete Dye and the developer have their way, it should be rated as the toughest course in America, if not it will be damn close. Their goal is to attract major golf competitions and they should be successful at that.
The rack rate for this course is going to be $350, but they gave the media a break, to get some of the press it deserves. Have I mentioned its length yet? Its 8102 yards from the tips, with a 301 yard par-3 and the finishing hole a 657yard par-5. If that is not the longest in the world, it has to be close. The GPS on the carts clearly recommends that you be 5 or less handicap to play the tips, 6-12 the blacks at 7200 yards 13-20 to play 6700 yards and over that play 6100. I thought 6100 was short- but it turned out to be the right length for me. The GPS screen has very helpful tips on how to play each hole, that are so insightful they could have been written by Pete Dye himself.

Pete Dye moved over 20 million cubic yards of dirt to build this course. I can’t envision how much that is, but it sounds like a lot. This course sits on the second highest point in Indiana, which isn’t really that high, but it has lots of elevation changes and apparently they had to clear lots of trees for this course. The pro told me of Pete’s first trip here trudging through the tree and brush at his spry age of 83. “Some of the younger people working with him had trouble keeping up with him, as he made his way through the dense trees and brush on his first site visit” said Deven Trueblood, the assistant golf professional. Many trees were cleared and it is a links style course now with hardly any trees, and holes that are framed by a vast horizon that challenges your depth perception, especially on the doglegs, trying to figure out how much to cut off. The good news is you have views for miles, perhaps 30 miles in some cases. Quite the panaoramas.

The cart paths are white sand and gravel, which as you look from above makes a beautiful contrast with the course and saves from the large bounces you can get from blacktop paths.
# 2 is a short par 4 with plenty of mounding and bunkers #3 is a twisty turny, rolly pollie, ribbon of fairway all leading to a green that hangs on the precipice of the hill. Many of the narrow fairways sit up on a ledge and if your shots are off line you are either in fescue up the hill or 10-15 feet below the fairway on the other side. Ouch!!!
#6, has 20 bunkers lining just the left side of the fairway and the par-5#14 has a split fairway. One of them (unfortunately the one I hit to) is 50-75 feet below the pin; I was hitting a wedge up over a tall wall of grass. I made bogie and was proud of it.

I lost lots of balls on the front and shot 47 yikes!! But on the back I hit more fairways, made a few pars and shot 42 that’s more like it. For all the elevation change, they told me it is quite walkable and there is only a 5% grade differential on the entire course if you walk. I guess I will have to come back and try that. They had suggested I take a caddie or at least a forecaddie, and after I finished, I wished I had. Knowing where to aim is a big factor here.

If you want a challenge, this will be a good place for you, but don’t play tees that are too long for you or you will regret it
Deven shared with me an interesting observation from Brett Melton, an outstanding player who played from the tips “I could play this course with 4 clubs; driver, 3 wood, wedge and putter, because you are hitting 3 wood into almost every green and then your short game takes over.

I did ask about the course record and so far it’s 82 from the tips--- so go out there and let me know if you can beat that. Visit

If you go: stay at the French Lick resort and Casino (I guess the casino qualifies as a riverboat but don’t ask me how since it’s inside the bldg.) The restaurants are wonderful the spa is first class. Or stay at the West Baden Springs hotel which has an amazing atrium (worth a visit even if you don’t stay there)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

New Golf products and Golf Network conference

May 19,2009
I am at the ING conference in French Lick IN. This conference is a networking conference of Golf writers, Golf Publications, and Golf Manufacturers. I have never been to French Lick before, but I know I have heard of it and was trying to figure out why. Then I was talking to a friend of mine on the phone, when I told him where I was he said “Oh the birthplace of Larry Bird” which it is… there is even a street called Larry Bird Way. All this in a very poor town with a population of less than 3,000.

It is also home to the French Lick resort and Casino which is a very big resort with two golf courses, One by Donald Ross and a brand new course by Pete Dye. This new course is why our meeting is here. More on the course at my next entry.

I tried a couple new products while I was here, both of which are interesting. One was the Air force driver, which is filled with Nitrogen, making the club head a bit lighter and the pressure of the nitrogen, makes it possible to manufacture the club head with a thinner face, Thinner face, better response and longer hits, in some cases 20-30 yards.

I also spent some time with a new putting training device called Clockworx putting. ( ) . This is a training aid that is basically a level that you place on the hole and it shows which way the green is sloping. The concept is you find 3,6,9, and 12 o’clock place the 6:00 line to indicate where the putt is exactly up hill. Then you take 4 ball marks at 3,6,9,and 12 directly around the hole and then place a dozen balls in a 3-4 foot radius of the hole and putt. Each putt has a slightly different break and your slowly learn where to aim to play the break properly and it also trains you in learning to interpret subtle breaks. If you use it enough and properly, it works wonderfully.
Larry Berle

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Golf at Mirabel in Phoenix AZ

Mirabel Golf
Annie and I played Mirabel in the very north of the Phoenix Area yesterday with our friends Mark and Kim. Mark had bought these rounds at a charity auction several months ago and invited us along. I am so glad he did.
The development is at approx 3000 feet in elevation, a couple thousand feet above central Phoenix, and is a bit cooler than the rest of the valley, with some spectacular sweeping views of the Phoenix valley and Pinnacle Peak. It plays anywhere from 5000 to 7200 yards with generous landing areas and strategically, well-guarded greens, with plenty of undulation in them. This style of course design is Tom Fazio's forte. So it’s a great test for the low handicapper, yet fun for your average Sunday golfer.

The course was originally designed by Greg Norman, but Tom Fazio has redone it, to what extent I do not know, but it is a terrific track now.

The 34,000 square foot clubhouse, which they appropriately call the Desert Lodge, is like a mecca of decadence with a world class restaurant, a highly rated locker room and a full service spa in each of the women’s and men’s locker rooms…. WOW. Golf Digest regularly rates the locker room amount the top 50 locker rooms.

If the clubhouse were not enough; they decided to extend the clubhouse to the course where there are two “comfort stations” like refreshment stands on steroids, with every drink imaginable, cheese and crackers, ice cream bars, hard boiled eggs, fruit, freshly baked cookies and some of the best beef jerky you ever tasted. Our caddie even said “ put some in a bag and take it home, everyone else does” and all at no additional charge.
We passed a BBQ grill on the 8th tee box where, we were told, the chef usually prepares one of his wonderful creations, but not today. That was disappointing. They even have chair massage on the driving range. With all these services, I can’t even imagine what the dues are, but who cares, I don’t have to pay em.

The greens have lots of movement and ran very fast, I would guess 12 on the stimpmeter. I know keeping them at speeds like that takes quite an effort on the part of the maintenance staff. Personally, I love greens like this, although a at least one of my golf partners today found them confounding and frustrating. I birdied number one and was even par after 6 holes, which is unusually good for me, but 7,8,9 my usual game was back. Still I shot 85 for the day, which made me happy.

This course is very walkable, and they encourage walking. We had carts but I would guess I walked over half the course. Our caddie, Mike, was an eagle eye for balls hit into the desert and a true expert at reading these challenging greens. There is a valley effect here and many times the breaks are not what they appear to the naked eye. Many people say this may be the best golf course in the Phoenix are, and although I have not played them all, I am inclined to agree.

The homes on the course are beautiful, we even passed one that is 16,000 Square feet, ½ the size of the clubhouse. Housing at Mirabel starts at well over a million dollars but they just began accepting members who do not own property at Mirabel.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Papago Golf course Phoenix AZ

Papago Golf Course
Phoenix AZ
March 2009

For years, Papago Golf Course has been respected as one of the top public municipal golf courses in the Phoenix area. Over the years it has deteriorated in condition but a couple of the holes continued to show up regularly on lists of the best 18 holes of Arizona.
They just completed a multi-million dollar renovation of the course, and its reopening has been all over the AZ golf news. In fact the LPGA tournament will be played there later in March of 2009.

I played it yesterday and it seems to me this renovation still has a long way to go. First of all its $89.00. Most courses in the valley are discounting their fees, but not Papago. The clubhouse is a construction trailer, not exactly the most inviting introduction as you drive in. There is no drinking water on the course and I never saw a ball washer either. The toilet facilities are still porta poties.
The carts are the old polluting gas carts, and although they allow walking, whick I like, you pay for the cart even if you walk. Did I mention the few trash bins I saw? Everything goes in there, even all the recyclable plastic bottles, of which there are many. This is a municipal golf course, I would hope that the city of Phoenix would be better stewards of the environment.

We played the front 9 in 3 hours. We waited on every hole, and there was no marshal on the course to move things along. That was frustrating. At the turn we went to the clubhouse and told them we didn’t have 3 more hours and they were kind enough to refund ½ our fee. So I can only tell you about the front nine.

The hole layouts are wonderful and the setting among the rock outcroppings and buttes of Papago Park is beautiful. I just wish I could say the same for the rest of the course. For a new renovation the fairways were in decent shape as were the greens. The sand in the bunkers was in excellent shape. However, all the tee boxes are scruffy as is the rough (its not really rough) and the transitions from the rough to the edges of the holes are all hard pan.

I will be interested to see how the LPGA reacts to these conditions in a couple weeks, but I would say there are lots of better places to spend your money on golf in the Phoenix area. I would play it again in a couple years if the conditions get better, but it is going to take some work to make that happen.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Terry Fator is a big hit in Las Vegas

Las Vegas
March 5, 2009
I most often write about golf, but having spent 30 years in the entertainment business I want to tell you about a new show in Las Vegas I saw recently.

Terry Fator
Tonight I saw the new Terry Fator show at the Mirage. Terry Fator is a ventriloquist and impersonator and he combines these two extraordinary talents in his wonderful new show at the Mirage, which just opened last month. Terry recently won AMERICAS GREATEST TALENT on TV winning a cool $1 million, which is nothing compared to the $100 million contract he signed for a multi-year stint at his 1265 seat theatre in
the Mirage.

Terry’s 90 min show introduces us to 7 puppet characters such as Emma Taylor who opens the show singing a fantastic rendition of Etta James’ “at last” followed by Winston the impersonating turtle who is not only hilarious but can also sing his ass off. This is followed by the flirtatious, Cowboy Walter, a ladies man, who is sure that underpants will soon be flying onto the stage as soon as the women of the audience notice him. As if he isn’t raunchy enough he is followed by Miss Vicki, the urban cougar who can’t wait to get in the box with all the male puppets to see if they want to play a little “poker”
The other characters are too numerous to mention and funny beyond belief and can all sing and impersonate the likes of the Beatles to Louis Armstrong-------------

Then when you think all the characters will be played by the puppets, Fator appears on stage dressed as Michael Jackson and sings a few puppetless impersonations that knock your socks off.

He even brought an audience member on stage, outfitted him in a mask, wig and dress to impersonate Cher and did a duet with him as Sonny and Cher. This too, brought the house down. All of this to the accompaniment of his phenomenal 7 piece band.

This man can sing like anyone, with his mouth shut.

I was a ventriloquist in Jr. and Sr. high school and I can tell you how hard it is to tell the many jokes without a break in facial expression and to be able to sing the variety of voices and styles that Terry sings without moving his lips is nothing short of extraordinary.
Terry’s bio tells us how, since the age of 15, it has been his lifelong dream to have his own marquee on a Las Vegas casino and now he not only has that but a cool $100 million contract to boot….. What a country!!!!!

Check out his website at and if you are headed to Vegas. Don’t miss this show!!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bridgestone Golf Balls

March 2, 2009
Bridgestone Golf Balls
I have been playing the new Bridgestone Tour B330-RX golf ball for the past couple weeks. They have 3 new models: B330-RX optimized for swing speeds of 105 MPH, the B330-S for swing speeds of 105-115 MPH and the B330 for swing speeds over 115 MPH.
This is a wonderful new ball--- it is long and straight off the tee and gets great spin control from irons around the green. These balls have urethane covers which are a soft material to give you max spin control around the greens. Short game guru, Dave Pelz, recently, compared Urethane and Surlyn covers. Urethane is the softer material designed to be engaged by the grooves on the clubface. I like this because I miss more than my share of greens in regulation but when I hit chips and short pitches at the flag, I can control its reaction on the green. This has improved my scoring. I highly recommend these balls.
Bridgestone has a ball fitting page on their website .It will help you decide which of these three models will suite your needs

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Golf Buddy GPS distance finder

The Golf Buddy
There are several GPS units that give you accurate golf course distances on the market now. I have used two of them; Sky caddie and Golf Buddy. They both give you very similar information, but there are some major differences that are important. I have been trying the Golf Buddy for a couple weeks now-- on several courses and I like it much better than Sky Caddie.

First of all, the purchase costs are quite similar. However the Golf Buddy requires no annual subscription fee and no need to continually download courses from your computer. They are all stored right there in the device (or up in cyberspace, somewhere). I started at Firerock in Fountain Hills AZ and turned it on. It took a few minutes to boot up, then it recognized Firerock and asked me: Are you at
Firerock CC. I hit the toggle switch yes and in a minute it loaded up the first hole. After that it automatically forwarded to each successive hole and gave me distances to front, middle and back of green, in an easy to read font (I like it when it’s easy to read)

You can also toggle and get distances to water and bunkers and hazards, but for my eyes, which now need reading glasses, it was difficult to read, I could do it with a bit of squinting but it would be such an improvement if they could increase that type size.

You can also pick your favorite layup distance (say it’s a 100 yard Pitching wedge) and it will tell you the distance to that anytime you want it.

It has a rechargeable battery and seems to hold the charge for at least 1 if not 2 rounds.

The website has a complete list of courses that are on Golf Buddy and I found a couple that are not on it, The Champions course at TPC Scottsdale and Vista Verde. You can email golf buddy and they say they will add them, which I did a week ago and I am still waiting to hear what happened to my request. As of this writing I have not heard back from them, so I don’t know how well that system is set up yet.

It has features that allow you to hit “Mark” and determine how far you hit any shot that you hit. It also has a feature where you can mark an unknown course you are on and up load it to their system. Don’t let any of this bother you because they seem to have so many courses on their system that its hard to imagine there are many that you won’t find.
For example in Arizona alone, they have approx 300 listed on the web. It also has a feature where you can keep your score, but I have not tried this yet.

It also comes with an instructional DVD from Rick Smith, who endorses the product, but is also one of the top golf instructors in the U.S.

For price and convenience, I would take this over any other global positioning device I have played so far. For more info visit

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ritz Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain

On Mon Feb 2 I played in the media day at the brand new Ritz- Carlton Golf Club in Marana AZ, just outside of Tucson.
This course is a Jack Nicklaus signature (the signature means he was personally involved in the design) and just opened for play less that 2 weeks ago, so it is in pristine condition. For the tour it plays over 7800 yards with a rating of 77.1 and a slope if 147 (the hardest slope that is issued by the USGA is 151 to the best of my knowledge). It does have 5 sets of tees, however, and it can be played as short as 5300 yards. It is beautifully nestled in the surrounding Tortolita Mountain Range which is dotted with hundreds of majestic saguaro cactus, just up the road from The Gallery at Dove Mountain.

The WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship will be played there later this month (that is a field of the top 64 players in the world) and as Wade Dunagan told us in the press conference, “This course was specifically designed with Match play in mind” That means difficult, with lots of carries over desert washes and significant undulation in the greens. Some of the carries are not too bad (like off the tees) but at least half the holes have desert washes near the greens, which means you better carry the ball all the way over them. Many of them are uphill greens, requiring an additional club for the distance and making it difficult to see the green surfaces and thus hard to judge the pin positions.

Unlike many desert courses, this place has real rough, which they are growing out for the tour stop, but I like that better than having balls kick out into the desert, even though it surely reduced the roll and was not easy to hit from.

Having said all that, it is truly a wonderful place for golf, both to play and will be wonderful to watch the match play there as well. The match play will be like a mini global summit, with players from 19 countries. As of this writing, they have not ruled out Tiger showing up to defend his title.

I played with 3 other golf writers, (just because they are golf writers, don’t assume that makes them good golfers) although one of them was clearly a single digit handicapper. We all enjoyed the course, although there was speculation in the group about average players liking it once, but being reluctant to play it many times over, because of its difficulty. That remains to be seen. I know I would like to go back there, even from 6800 yard tees we played, I shot 84 which is good for me. We played 18 holes (the 18 on which the Match Play will take place) but there are 9 more holes that we didn’t get to play and 9 more are scheduled to be built in 2010.

It is currently open to the public at $225.00 per round but when the hotel opens this fall it is intended to be for members and hotel guests only. If you want to join its going to be $125,000 initiation and dues of $750 per month plus $25 usage fee for every round of golf. Its gonna take an improving economy to make that be attractive..

The 45,000 square foot clubhouse is as luxurous as you can imagine, with a huge spa coming, and they have hired great chefs and the food is magnificent. My favorite item on the menu is “Short rib sliders” which are to die for and I am sure will become the signature dish of the club.

The hotel will have 250 rooms and 25 casitas and there are 450 home sites for sale. I took a tour of one of the model homes and there are 450 lots avail with homes ranging from $1.25 million to $3 million. Even though you will have $750 - $1100 per month HOA dues with your home you get all the service you want including the hotel concierge and, I am told, room service from the hotel 24 hours a day. Not bad eh?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Arrowhead CC Glendale AZ

Arrowhead Country Club Glendale AZ

Yesterday Arrowhead CC hosted a “member for a day” event, designed to introduce new people to their club, I am sure with the hope that some may join. It is located in Glendale AZ about 4 miles west of I-17 and Loop 101 in Glendale AZ (a western community of the Greater Phoenix area--- This is the same town where the Cardinals and the Coyotes recently built their new stadiums.

Arrowhead, a private country club, is full service with a 36,000 Square Foot fitness facility; 3-racquet ball courts 10-lighted Tennis courts 3 swimming pools and a beautiful spacious clubhouse. It certainly has everything you could want in a country club.

The golf course was designed in 1986 by Arnold Palmer and has some very nice characteristics to it. Between 1/3 and ½ of the holes have water (a precious commodity in the desert) but most of them do not come severely into play, except in a couple cases like the par-5, sixth hole which is a dogleg par 5 around a long pond and hole #8 which has two water hazards, one of which is not visible from the tee but certainly is reachable.
So the water adds a beautiful aesthetic value, without being overly penal (most of the time).

The fairways, which like most AZ courses, are over seeded in the winter, play beautifully. The greens were in very good shape and run quick and true. There are plenty of subtle breaks, but only a few have any severe slope to them. They are firm enough that they are hard to hold unless you are an expert spinner of approach shots, so you have to hit almost everything into the front of the green

The rough is a different story, it’s not over seeded, so it’s brown and scraggly and there are several areas that are worn down to the hardpan. The good news is, it is an easy surface to hit from. So, to the eye, the fairways are not very well defined, except by the over seeded green fairways and their contrast to the brown rough. And unfortunately the fairway bunkers visually blend in to the rough as you stand on the tee. One of my playing partners suggested a bit of mounding along the fairways may help define them. Perhaps some green rough to frame the bunkers would help. The fairways are firm and you get pretty good roll from the tee shots. I like that. The fairway bunkers were very firm, which made it easy to hit from there (I know you are asking what were you doing in there?) Yet the greenside bunkers seemed to have enough sand to make them quite playable.

Number 9 and 18 are quite similar, except 18 is a par 5 with quite a carry over water near the green. I hit a great drive and actually went for it in two, carried the water and would have rolled onto the green, but I was a few yards too far right and it rolled off the wall into the water.

It plays anywhere from 5200 yards to 7100 so there is plenty of challenge for everyone. We played it from 6300 yards, which is rated at 69.5 and slopes at 121. Not too easy and not too hard. And the woman in our foursome said she was quite pleased with the women’s tee placements.

As clubs go in the Phoenix area, it is a very good value with a $4,000 initiation fee and family dues of $445 per month. They can be reached at 602-561-9648 or visit

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What an adventure!!!!

Well written...and quite an adventure.
A must read for any golfer of any level.