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