Day 4 – A Fall Desert Adventure


October 28, 2013 – Something Wicked This Way Comes

Monday is rarely a favourite day.  The prospect of heading back to work after a relaxing weekend makes many cringe.  In total opposition of this our little traveling trio had a lot to look forward to today.  Events of the day worked hard to inflict damage on our enthusiastic attitude.

All was fine while we were still hanging out about the J W Marriott Camelback Inn in the morning.  Joining Sales Manager Shane Allor for breakfast in the outdoor splendour of Rita’s Kitchen, he enlightened us with details on both the history and recent happenings at the resort. More than $60 million in renovations in the past half decade have taken an aging resort built in 1936 and transformed into a world-class desert dream spot for guests for both personal and professional visits.

Adding a Canadian flare to the meal was the news that Allor’s son, also Shane, is a sophomore at Boise State University where he plays on the golf team, following in the footsteps of our top Canuck on the PGA Tour, Graham DeLaet.  It was nice to hear the praise Allor had for the Saskatchewan native who often takes time to play golf with the team members.

Headed north to Fountain Hills to our golf stop for the day we had a heightened sense of anticipation.  We had not heard a lot about SunRidge Canyon Golf Club, where we were scheduled to play, but what we had was overwhelmingly positive.  Kyle, one of the front desk attendants at the Camelback Inn was enthusiastic in praise – “It’s easily my favourite golf course in the valley.”

After finishing on the the 18th we were left to assume that Kyle must enjoy a lot of pain in his life.

The first indication of what lay ahead was the climb into the hills we made driving in.  If a golf course was to be set on this terrain there was no way it was level in any way.  Good guess.

Clue #2 was the pronouncement in the pro shop that the final six holes at the course were proudly labelled and marketed as “The Wicked Six”.

On completion we pondered about how they might just want to label the other holes “The Really Hard 12 That Lead To The Wicked Six”.  Lapses in concentration will not go unpunished.

At just over 6800 yards and playing to a par of 71, the factual details seem very tame compared to other courses we’ve played so far on this trip but scorecards rarely reveal all.

Playing outward from the clubhouse for nine holes, the Keith Foster design tumbles down the canyon via thin strips of fairways tucked between no-man’s land.  The occasional hole would provide a birdie opportunity on normal days but with the wind having kicked up, a battle ground had been created.

That became more apparent when we began the march back up the canyon for the final nine.

This all said, the course was laid out dramatically – in a way that we all respected.  Forced carries in many areas required us to plot out our strategy very carefully.

Several of the par three holes played across canyons for their entire length, which, in this case, amounted to well over 200 yards for three of them.  The 17th, which played some 223 yards today to a stingy pin tucked behind a massive bunker, might be the greatest “short” hole we have seen on this trip.

Good golf shots are necessary at SunRidge; choose your tee blocks wisely.

If the challenge of the golf course was not enough to fill our Monday, Rich decided to add a little texture to our tale but wandering slightly off-line on the 14th hole. His reward for his trip to the non-grass portion of the golf course?  An avocado sized cactus burr embedded into the back of his calve. It required taking a towel folded over in eight layers to dislodge it from his body.  The needles pushed through four layers of the heavy towel.  Needless to say, some blood and pain ensued.

Which basically also describes our Monday of golf…

(Author’s note: Despite the test that SunRidge Canyon provided, we really did enjoy the golf course)

Up Next:  Grayhawk Golf Club and leaving the Phoenix area for Tucson.

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