Wednesday, March 21, 2012

RR Donnelley Founders Cup Wildfire at Desert Ridge

In 1950  13 women joined together to form the LPGA.  The Founders cup honors these 13 women and what a place to do it, on the first LPGA event of the season in the U.S. This is the 4th 2012 tour stop for the LPGA but the first in the U.S.  There are only 29 stops on the tour total and only 16 are in the U.S.  I guess things have changed for the LPGA.

This field and the entire LPGA field is quite international. Of the 144 players here  just under 1/2 are from the U.S.  I don’t know how many in this tournament are from South Korea but there are 42 players on the entire tour from there.  I would guess that number is growing.

There are 2 golf courses here at Wildfire and this tournament is being played on a combination of these courses.  The back 9 is part of the by Nick Faldo designed course and the  front 9 is part of the Arnold Palmer designed course.  These two 9s couldn’t be more different from each other.
The leaders today are Yani Tseng who is also the number one female player in the world, and I.K. KIm who was raised playing golf on a windy golf course- so todays wind is almost welcome to her  “it makes me think of my home town”
At this LPGA tournament, Volvik is  hosting  10 minute lessons at one end of the range.
People of all levels were lined up for their lessons.  I watched one and its amazing how much can be accomplished in 10 minutes.  The lesson I watched  was being taught by Paula Hicks from Sedona AZ.  She pointed out that the student was addressing the ball on the toe of the club, after that adjustment was made the student was hitting much more solid shots.  That was followed by a drill that had the club finishing lower than before.  The swing became more fluid and the iron shots were travelling farther.  Thats quite a productive free 10 minute lesson.
Yani Tseng won it on a nasty windy,rainy, chilly, Sunday afternoon by 1 shot.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

One Last Shot at Riverview Golf Club

June 2006 I had a bicycle accident and was in the hospital for 2 months.  The road to recovery was slow and I doubted I would ever play golf again.  But slowly I recovered.
From the golf point of view  it was-- putting green, then chipping and putting then the driving range and finally after a few months I felt it was worth a try to go play a round of golf.  But I didn’t feel I had the stamina to play 18 holes.  
A friend turned me on to Riverview Golf Club in Mesa, about 10 miles from our Fountain Hills home, and I went and tried it. 9 holes, 3200 yards of gently rolling terrain, par 36 designed by Gary Panks, one of the leading golf course architects of AZ.  
This may be one of the best 9 hole  courses I have ever played and one of the few golf courses in the Phoenix area that allows walking. As a guy who has played the Top 100 golf courses in the U.S. I think I qualify as someone who knows a good golf course when he sees it.  It was $17 to walk and a couple more dollars for a pull cart.  One of the best bargains in the valley. 
I have returned there many times-- bringing friends to show off this “gem of the valley” where I would go on those days I wanted to play golf but didn’t have a whole day to play 18 holes.
The Chicago Cubs, who train in Mesa, needed a new training facility.  The city of Mesa did not want to loose them to another community, so they agreed to build the Cubs a new facility.  This park and this golf course will be the new space for the Cubs.
This is a sad day for golf in Phoenix..Oh how I hate to see the bulldozers tear this place up.  It has served Mesa since 1987 and hosted 1.6 million rounds of golf in the past 25 years
I am playing it for the final time, today, Thurs March 15, 2012. The final round will be played this Sunday.  This weekend as a tribute to all those it has served, they are rolling back prices to 1987’s opening day  $10.50.  I would tell you to call for a tee time, but I don’t think there is one to be had.
Today is like a funeral service for this lovely golf course and I will cherish every shot of every hole today.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Toddling the fairways at Tatum Ranch Golf Club in Phoenix

Tatum Ranch Golf Club is a private club located conveniently 5 miles north of Loop 101 on Tatum Blvd.  The management was recently taken over by OB Sports, one of the leading golf club management facilities in the Phoenix area and if you are an OB sports card holder, you can play here for $80 in high season. They have 275 members and like most other golf clubs and looking for more.
Tatum Ranch opened in 1987 and was designed by one of the Valleys leading golf architects, Robert Cupp. This 6,856-yard, par 72 layout challenges players with a unique desert landscape and a variety of shotmaking opportunities.
It is in a housing development and in some spots, feels tightly fit into the surrounding homes. But with the vegetation restricting some tee box views of the fairways, it is more of a visual illusion than anything because once you are out there, it seems more open than it does from the tee boxes.  
The greens were in excellent shape, as were the bunkers. There is a large variety of green sizes and undulations, bringing short game and pin positions in as a big factor.
Tatum Ranch Golf Club is generally level but not flat. With greens and tees close together, it is a course made for golf at its purest--on foot. And many people were walking today.
The greens were in excellent shape, as were the bunkers. There is a large variety of green sizes and some serious undulations, bringing short game and pin positions in as a big factor. They run smooth, true and speedy without being too slick. Get above the hole, and you're definitely on the defensive.
Only approach shots that come in high and soft will gain much purchase on Tatum Ranch's firm greens. A few are guarded by front bunkers, but the vast majority are open for run ups, and that is sometimes the shot of choice. And a good thing it is--a course ought to demand something more than dart throwing. 
Two of Tatum Ranch's excellent par threes (three and eleven) and the par-five 14th have shallow greens that demand precise distance control. Green depth on the other holes starts at about 30 yards, with several reaching 40 or more. On those larger greens you could have some cross-country putts.  
 If Tatum Ranch has a signature hole, it is probably #7 a short par 4 dogleg right over a pond, with a beautiful fountain that unfortunately is out of order today (the only water hazard on the course). Its not very long but its a devilish approach shot over the pond. All I can say is “on this shot, know your distance”
  At the end of the round you will think, That was fun! In its quiet way, Tatum Ranch does a good job of doing what a course ought to do: rewarding good golf and (not too harshly) punishing bad. The course ratings are fairly high, ranging from 70.9 at 6344 yards to 72.7 at 6856 yards. But choose the right tee, and it is much more enjoyable than it is penal.
If you go:
Tatum Ranch Golf Club
29888 N Tatum Ranch Dr
Cave Creek, Arizona 85331 
Phone(s): (480) 585-4909 
Fax: (480) 585-3197
$80 with an OB Sports Card  (high season or $125 recripocal from other clubs
full golf membership  $2,000 initiation and $483 per month