Saturday, January 24, 2009
1. Ease and intimacy of routing: 6
Basic pattern of returning nines, arrayed around a central practice range, with the front nine looped clockwise and the back nine counterclockwise.
2. Quality of feature shaping: 7
Everything had to be created – fairway drainage slopes as well as greenside contours. An additional foot or two – no more – of elevation on tees would make a world of difference in presenting the holes better. Best touch – intentional or not – is how the occasional bunker behind a green is shaped to provide a softer version of the basic mountain outline in the distant background.
3. Natural setting and overall land plan: 5
There can’t be anything natural about a featureless site like this, but the core routing helps create interior space for golf.
4. Interest of greens and surrounding chipping contours: 8
There’s a decided preference for contour, with noticeable sectioning off of putting surfaces into decks, hollows and transitions. It works on an otherwise flat parcel to provide considerable interest and demand, though the occasional diversionary off slope can be maddening. The putting surfaces generally allow for ground-game access, and there also are plenty of greenside recovery options.
5. Variety and memorability of par 3s: 5
From the 6,700-yard tees, club selection ran 7-iron, 3-hybrid, 6-iron, 5-iron, with the longest and hardest hole (218-yard ninth) offering an enticing bailout left, away from the carry over water looming front and right.
6. Variety and memorability of par 4s: 5
The standouts are two short, nearly drivable par 4s with multiple options (Nos. 7 and 12), plus two long, slightly overcooked holes (Nos. 6 and 15).
7. Variety and memorability of par 5s: 7
All of the second shots are interesting and provide options of length and angle – always a sign of a good par 5.
8. Basic conditioning: 7
The TifEagle ultradwarf Bermudagrass greens and 419 Bermudagrass fairways, tees and roughs – all overseeded with rye – are well-established.
9. Landscape and tree management: 4
Extensive plantings will take time to establish and define the site, and will succeed if the focus is on clustering rather than spacing out trees everywhere.
10. “Walk in the park” test: 5
Easily walkable, though the routing and site makes the path less a journey and more a meandering stroll.
A pleasant surprise, one that extracts far more out of a bland site than one could reasonably expect.
• • •
• 37449 North Encanterra Drive, Queen Creek, AZ 85242
• Par 72, 7,176 yards
• 73.9 rating / 130 slope
• Private club: $20,000 initiation for residents, $40,000 for nonresidents, plus $300 per month until clubhouse is completed, then fee rises to $425.