They Sacrificed for You

Peñasco Golf Trip (5 of 55)As the caravan approached the border, armed guards braced for its arrival. The disparate group of refugees was hopeful they could talk their way through the barrier. As Hans Birkholz dutifully scanned the wall for breaks in the concertina wire, David Harbour and Mike Forde rehearsed the plan. “If Jones pisses them off, we tell them he’s a hired driver and we had no idea that trying to cross the border with a loose-cannon violated Mexican laws against arms importation.” The last car in the caravan carried Dave and Lauri Allen poised to retreat at the first sign of discord on the frontera.

The crossing went as planned as Jones’ charm instantly disarmed all the guards at the border. Their AR-15s remained lowered and they waved us through with smiles on their faces. We were in!

Peñasco Golf Trip (1 of 55)We quickly checked into our barracks at the Puesta del Sol Hotel and immediately went to a secret location five miles southeast of town. Restaurante El Barco was a wooden shack on a beach a couple miles off the road. They promptly provided our team of commandos with eleven dozen oysters on the half-shell and twenty Xs. With two Xs on each bottle, that amounted to ten beers. The oysters were positively delectable and the entire eleven dozen cost less than two dozen had they been purchased in Scottsdale. The image to the right is of Commandante Jones and Commandante Allen reviewing the plans for the next four days.

Peñasco Golf Trip (2 of 55)The team relaxed until the following morning when they convened at a German restaurant for breakfast. If that doesn’t sound suspicious enough, check out the expression on Lauri Allen’s face while she previews the plan for the day while doing everything possible to appear that she’s reading a menu.

After a great breakfast, it was time to head onto the field of battle, Vidanta Golf Course, a spectacular layout designed by Jack Nicklaus and his son.  The picture was taken upon our arrival. Jones, Harbour and Forde are all smiles at this point, but they didn’t know the intensity with which they were about to be attacked. They teed off and the assault was Peñasco Golf Trip (9 of 55)on. The battle had been joined. Frankly, we were flogged. The course laid siege from the beaches, the air, the under-brush, the hillsides and from the many traps that had been placed in our path. Nicklaus’ approach was obviously, “Let there be no survivors.” There weren’t. The campo-de-golf slaughtered us after repulsing each advance we offered.

We returned to the barracks after losing our balls one at a time all across the field of battle. Some of us medicated, others (such as Dave and Lauri) indulged in various forms of physical rehabilitation. Later that evening, we reconvened our strategic planning Peñasco Golf Trip (8 of 55)committee meeting, this time at La Curva, Peñascos finest for traditional Sonoran Mexican food. We recharged and did what we could to prepare to launch our counter attack the following morning.

Again on Saturday, the course emerged victorious. We fared better than we had the previous day, but in the end, we were still forced to raise the white flag of surrender. Vidanta was better than we were and still stands like the summit of K-2, all but invincible. But being a hard-headed bunch of upstarts, we intend on trying again. It’s one of the most beautiful courses on the planet and it will give any and every golfer, regardless of ability, all he or she can handle. Each hole is unique with its own character. We were merely its victims.

All in all, even though the course won every battle, it was a great four days. We had great golf, great food (and a little bit of crappy food), great weather, great scenery and fantastic oysters. We’ll be back. Here are a few pictures from the front.

 

Hey Scrooge – Can I Have Word with You?

ScroogeIt’s the holiday season. It’s a time when warm and fuzzy phrases abound. “Good will to men. Merry Christmas. Happy Chanukah. Peace on Earth.” The list goes on. One phrase I heard incessantly from my mother as I was growing up was, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Even old hard-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge lightened up and made Tiny Tim’s day. Never mind that he probably evicted the family after the holidays passed. The less fortunate have needs for things some of us take for granted, especially at this time of year.

Speaking of the less fortunate, let’s remember our staff and servers at Camelback Golf Club. We’re incredibly fortunate to have a great group of people working hard to keep us happy. For many of us, life is tough. A few of us actually still have to “work”, albeit usually more for ego gratification than for further financial gain. Our lives are filled with tragedies like bogeys, frost delays, and lost balls, but we endure.

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Listen Up Pilgrim – New Rules

GolferDownI’m sure most of you have read the USGA “Rules of Golf” from cover to cover countless times. Many of you can cite chapter and verse from memory. Just the other night, I woke myself up at 2:30 a.m. screaming something about Rule 28 and how my ball was unplayable. My wife mumbled something about taking a Mulligan and going back to sleep.

Much of our effort to committing the rule book to memory becomes of little value on January 1st when the 2019 Rules of Golf officially go into effect. That means we’ve got to memorize a completely new book of rules (and it contains 240 pages). Egad. Although some of you have already done so, the rest of you have work to do. Get on it!

There are some major changes, especially with regard to the way the native grass areas on Ambiente (soon to be called “penalty areas”) are played.

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If It Feels Good, Do It!

elsGive yourself the joy of hearing it slide into the hole, of seeing it disappear, of knowing that you completed the task as nature meant it to be done. Putt the ball into the hole, not near it, not by it, not within a foot, two feet, three feet; putt the ball INTO the hole. If you take a step back and look at the game of golf, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that putting the ball INTO the hole is actually defined as the object of the game. Don’t deny yourself that pleasure.

Section 1-1 of the USGA Rules of Golf: The Game of Golf consists of playing a ball with a club from the teeing ground into the hole by a stroke or successive strokes in accordance with the rules.

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High in the Pines

Pinetop Golf (12 of 66)
Our gracious hosts, Mike and Vicky Smothermon

Pinetop, Arizona was the site of some fun golf and great camaraderie this past weekend. More than a dozen Camelback Golf Club members and some additional friends and family played golf at more than 7,200 feet high in the mountains where long drives went longer than ever. Participants played one or more of some great courses.

Torreon offered magnificent views and a course to test any golfer’s skills. Silver Creek was a great layout with eighteen challenging and beautiful holes. Pinetop Lakes Country Club was a scenic test of golfing skill. Finally, the historic White Mountain Country Club gave every golfer breathtaking views and some monumental tests of golfing skills.

Being a gracious host for dinner and golf must pay rewards in golfer heaven. Mike Smothermon carded at 75 Monday at White Mountain Country Club, but his wife, Vicky, finished with a strong round of 79 (net 64) to more than hold her own. Mike shot a 69 on Sunday giving him low gross honors two days in a row. Continue reading “High in the Pines”

Predicting the Future by Controlling the Future

Nearly three thousand years ago, The Oracle at Delphi opened for business in Athens, Greece. The Oracle operated for a few hundred years administering advice, wisdom and philosophical insights. Rumor has it the business waned and finally failed when some smooth-taking Roman convinced the Oracle to franchise. Nonetheless, they had a great run for a few centuries.

The tradition lives on in Arizona through The Oracle at Hot Stix. After suffering consternation over life’s great philosophical quandaries, e.g., “Why do wedges chunk when you hit’em?” and “Why are twenty foot putts easy while three footers are nearly impossible?”, I was at wit’s end. Fortunately, humanity has evolved in such a manner that its members find survival value in helping other members of their club. First, Joe Busch (the club whisperer) confided in me. In his customary nuanced way, he said, “Your game sucks! You need to visit the Oracle at Hot Stix.” Naturally, I ignored Joe thinking … opinions are like … oh, never mind. I ignored him. A week later, he looked at my scorecard and blurted out his soon to be recurrent advice, “Go see the Oracle at Hot Stix.” Continue reading “Predicting the Future by Controlling the Future”

Camelback Golf History is Made

Chip smilesWow!!! Those who know me will assure you that it is a rare occasion when I’m left speechless. Chip Nelson created one of those instants Wednesday when I was handed his group’s scorecard. Chip had just obliterated the existing course record for the Ambiente course by shooting a 60 from the Verde tees.

It was a warm day. Winds occasionally gusted to ten knots. The course was in good shape. The stage was set for an 11:10 a.m. tee off in a group with Dr. Jack Summers and Captain Lee Mitchell. The opening hole on the Ambiente course sets the tone. It’s a challenging dogleg with both fairway and green guarded with cavernous sand traps. Chip carded a birdie three.

Chip birdied the second hole and stood on the tee box of the 504 yard par 5 third hole. He was already two under par. He carded an eagle on the third to go four under after three. After another birdie on the fourth hole, Chip just missed the green with his drive on the par 4 fifth. That didn’t appear to hurt him because he chipped it in for another eagle. After five holes, Chip was seven under par!

Continue reading “Camelback Golf History is Made”