Arizona’s Homeless to Take Up Residence in the Arroyos

The arroyo on #7 - It's called a "hazard" for a reason.
The arroyo on #7 – It’s called a “hazard” for a reason.

Not everyone is in agreement, but here’s the way it’s going to be. The arroyos will be allowed to move a bit closer to their “natural” state. They’re going to grow to a height of four to six inches. Here’s the announcement from Matt Anzalone, our Head Golf Professional:

“Did you know that when Gainey Ranch Golf Club’s golf course was designed back in the 1980’s, originally the intent was to have the arroyo channels played as a true hazard?
Due to better management practices, the channels are healthier than they have ever been. Gainey Ranch Golf Club management is going to bring this vision of a true hazard back! In years past we have kept the height of the arroyo channels at 3 1/2″ and moving forward for the rest of the 2013-2014 season we are going to maintain a height of 4″. Come June 1st, 2014 we will be maintaining the heights of the channels to 6″ for summer play where they will stay for the remainder of the year.”

With this new change of the arroyo channels, let’s remember a few housekeeping items:
1) Pace of Play- In order to help maintain pace of play at 4 hours for 18 holes, please limit searching of golf balls in the channels to 5 minutes. Chances are that if you don’t see the ball within the first 3 minutes, you probably don’t want to play it anyway!
2) USGA Rules of Golf- Do remember that the channels are marked and staked as HAZARDS, so make yourself familiar with RULE 26: “Water Hazards including Lateral Water Hazards”. Please read this rule in its entirety, as it shall be adhered by.

Many have expressed displeasure with this decision. I’m behind it. Those in opposition seem to be most concerned with two things, its impact upon pace-of-play and the fact that scores will be higher. I suspect a few of us are also aware that golf balls cost about four bucks a piece and with another lost ball or two, I’m out on the street selling pencils.

There can be no doubt the decision will have a deleterious (don’t you love superfluous big words?) impact upon the pace of play. However, I doubt the impact will be as great as some fear. We’ve already got golfers spending their five minutes of search time in the arroyos. It’s not like the decision lengthens the time allowed to search. And surely our course marshals will keep a close eye on golfers spending too much time on the hunt.

Will it become more difficult to score well on the course? Probably, but it’s about time. Many have complained that our handicaps don’t “travel well” and that anyone playing in an outside event suffers a disadvantage because of our “artificially low” handicaps. This is true in large part due to the course being set up to play easier than it was when it was rated by the USGA. If the course is more difficult, i.e., the arroyos are tougher to play, our scores and our handicaps will increase. Sure we all want to be scratch golfers, but let’s be realistic. I’ll occasionally throw a mid-70s round at Gainey, but all you have to do is look at my swing to realize it’s little more than an aberration. Shame on the course for letting a golfer with my skills score that low.

If the truth be known, letting the arroyos come closer to being true “hazards” may make us better golfers. We may be forced to actually think about our games a little more. I remember complaining about the inconsistent sand traps (and I’ll continue to complain) when Mike Miller spoke up and said, “Well, don’t hit your ball into the traps. That’s why they’re called hazards.” Sometimes it’s difficult to see the obvious when you’re standing so close to it. Consider not hitting your ball into the arroyos.

How many times have you seen this on the ninth hole of the Dunes course? The wind is in your face and your drive doesn’t get far enough off the tee to make it an easy second shot over the arroyo. The thought process is “Hell, I’ll go for it. If I don’t clear the arroyo I can find it and hit out of there without a big problem.” Or worse yet, someone hits it into the arroyo on the right, finds the ball and three whacks later is looking for the ball 150 yards further up – still in the arroyo. A smart golfer (I’m anxious to meet one) would realize the tee shot is in a lateral hazard, take his medicine and drop a ball outside the hazard and have a clean shot toward the green. Meanwhile, the great ball busting bwana is still combing the jungle looking for his ball after his fourth shot.

Yes, I for one, am in favor of making life tougher. In fact, I think they should not only let the arroyos go wild to the point where golfers themselves could get lost in them, they should also over-seed them with poison ivy and stock them with rattle snakes.

As a numbers guy, I’ll be watching to see what happens to handicaps and golf ball sales in the pro-shop.

Men’s Day – November 20, 2013

Inman and Gabriel claim first place.
Inman and Gabriel claim first place.

Wednesday’s match was – as usual – a competitive event. A couple of familiar names finished on top. Dave Inman and Jim Gabriel walked away with first place after winning a scorecard playoff with Steve King and Bruce Partridge. Carl Cheverie and Bob Martz took third place from Tom Hansen and Scott Thompson in a scorecard playoff.

Some interesting numbers came out of the match revealing some of the course’s secrets. For those that hit the ball straight, scores were low. Garry Warner edged out Anthony Arvidson for low gross while Gary Graham beat his handicap by seven strokes to claim low net honors.

Low Gross
1. Garry Warner – 72
2. Anthony Arvidson – 73
3. Gary Graham – 75

Low Net
1. Gary Graham – 62
2. Ed Nafus – 64
3. Ron Dobkin, Ken Vlah, Garry Warner and Phil Graham – 66

The Arroyo/Lakes course combination presented some challenges. Eight out of the nine holes on the Arroyo side played at close to bogey or higher. The par four first hole averaged 5.26 strokes. The second hole was the only one playing significantly below bogey. What a coincidence! It’s the only hole without a lake and/or an arroyo.

Only three of the nine Lakes holes played at or near bogey. As always, the seventh hole beat the field out of its balls, but for the most part, the rest of the course was at least manageable. The Arroyo course played a full stroke and a quarter tougher than the Lakes course. Let’s see if we can figure that out. Rock breaks scissors. Paper beats rock. Arroyos beat lakes.

Here’s my revelation and advice to you. Don’t hit your ball into the arroyos!

MGA Gala Coming Soon – Join Us in a Great Cause

Gainey Ranch Men’s Golf Association is hosting our 11th Annual Fundraising Gala

in conjunction with

Chef Jeff’s Holiday Party for members and guests to come together, enjoy some holiday cheer and give back to the community.  Join us on December 5, 2013 at 6:00pm.

The GRMGA Charities have contributed to:

Dinner & Special Holiday Entertainment $50 Per Person | $100 Per Couple (Made payable by cash, check or credit card to the MGA Charity) *Includes event and food, drink specials will be available and charged to your member account.

Donations of time, money and silent auction items are being accepted. Please direct all inquiries to Dave Inman (480.951.9133) or Mike Miller (480.483.3646) to help.

All donations to the MGA charity event are tax deductible and are payable to: Gainey Ranch MGA Charities Tax ID#: 83-0404497

Space is limited, so reserve early.

The first 180 people to reserve will be seated in the Ballroom.  Overflow, if any, will be in the Member’s Grill.

Register online or contact the Gainey Ranch receptionist at 480.951.0022 to pay by check.

Don’t Hurry, Just Play Faster – An Opinion

Old GolferIt’s been a long time since my days in Northern California where a weekend round of golf was fast if it was played in less than five hours. Slow play defeats many golfers. It makes it difficult to maintain focus and tempo. It’s tiring when you spend more time in the sun waiting for the group in front to move along. Someone once asked rhetorically as we waited on a tee box, “Have you ever noticed you always hate the group in front of you?” Every bad shot becomes the fault of those who are holding you up. A pleasant day becomes drudgery.

To put tact aside for a moment, extremely slow play is inconsiderate, if not simply rude. In some cases, slow play comes from a lack of knowledge. In a few cases, I suspect the slow players are just attempting to satiate their need to be the center of attention. In other cases, some people seem to live in a constant state of oblivion. In her later years, my mother would walk into a grocery store, stop in the middle of the entrance blocking everyone’s way while she tried to remember why she’d come to the store in the first place. Her spirit lives on in a few golfers. If there are two or three holes open in front of your group, you’re standing in the grocery store doorway. Pick up the pace.

The trick is to play faster without hurrying. The little things like lining up your putt before it’s your turn, taking the appropriate clubs to the tee box when you go up to get a read on distance (rather than having to walk back to the cart to get them), leaving your towel, clubs, etc. on the back side of the green rather than where you have to walk back toward the fairway to retrieve them. Plumb-bobbing from three feet really does nothing other than make other golfers wonder if maybe you’re a club or two short of a full bag. If you can’t see that the putt breaks hard to the right from three feet, you’re probably going to miss it anyway. There are countless little things to reduce “cycle time”.

The USGA has a series of videos designed to help play move along faster. I encourage you to view them for their entertainment value. Hope springs eternal.

From the USGA – Pace of Play…  From the USGA – Ready to PlayFrom the Royal and Ancient – Pace of PlayFrom the USGA – Playing Through

The Club and the Men’s Golf Association can take steps to improve the pace of play. It is certainly in the Club’s interest. With a better pace of play, more golfers can play in a given time period. This translates into income. With a reasonable pace of play, more players enjoy their golfing experience. A happier membership is far more inclined to return to the club, not to mention recommend it to others.

There has been some discussion that by establishing a set time for completing a round, all problems will be remedied. For example, proclaiming that a four and half hour pace is acceptable. Nothing could be farther from the truth, especially if it is the only criteria used to measure pace of play. “They’re on pace” is, in some cases, a realistic rationalization. However, in most cases, it is nothing short of nonsensical. A seven thousand yard course does not play the same as a six thousand yard course. A round where players are restricted to the cart paths does not have the same pace as a round where players may go directly to their balls. A round where each player has a separate cart will have a faster pace of play than a round where there are two players in every cart. A round where it’s raining like hell with forty degree temperatures will not be played at the same pace as a round under sunny skies and seventy-five degree temperatures.

A four and a half hour round is on the long end of acceptable in the worst of conditions (the USGA says anything over four hours is not acceptable). However, no one can put forth a cogent argument that it is acceptable under all or even a majority of conditions. When there are three open holes between one foursome and the next, it is an insult to the intelligence of the groups behind to suggest “They’re on pace.”

There are many things that can be done to mitigate the problem. But, before anything can be done, there first has to be recognition that a problem exists. If you agree or disagree, press the “Comments” button below and share your opinion.

Men’s Day – November 13th

Ted Akiba 2013 Fall Classic (1 of 3)Ted Akiba, Don Donovan, John Carollo paired up with Blind Draw to take first place in Wednesday’s Men’s Day competition. They beat Dennis Kildare, Howard Garr, Ron Dobkin and Dave Kopp by a single stroke. Gene Kloeckner, Greg Luce, Garry Warner and Jim Maxwell finished third after winning a scorecard playoff.

It was interesting to note that the Men’s Day game was two best balls of the team except for the 9th and 18th holes where all four balls counted. Within the Kildare Group, the game was two best balls on all 18 holes. Kildare’s team finished second in the Men’s Day competition, but third within the smaller group. Proof that it pays to play the last hole well.

John Herold took low gross honors with a 73 on a windy day. Garry Warner was two strokes back. Alex Currie and Ron Dobkin tied for low net honors with 68s. Skins were lucrative with Gary Reibman, Howard Jones, Gene Kloeckner, Ted Akiba and Pat Collins winning two each. Dave Kopp and Bernie Katchen each had one.

Speaking of charity (who was?), don’t forget to register quickly for Chef Jeff’s MGA Gala Dinner on December 5th. This is the big holiday dinner and charity auction. It is always spectacular. Register here.

2013 Fall Classic a Great Success

The winning team - Gene Kloeckner, Jeff Smith, Mike Wentrup and Greg Nelson
The winning team – Gene Kloeckner, Jeff Smith, Mike Wentrup and Greg Nelson

The season’s first big tournament is in the book. First Place in the 2013 Fall Classic has been claimed by the team of Jeff Smith, Gene Kloeckner, Mike Wentrup and Greg Nelson. They edged out the team of Mike Nichols, Howard Jones, Julian Fruhling and Gerry Bloch by one slim stroke. Buck Grier, Gary Reibman, Don Coolidge and Al Cozzi finished third. Congratulations to all.

The weather was absolutely perfect. The course was in good shape especially so soon after the over-seed. All golfers – some more than others – had a good time. Some great images

The famous guy is Jon Gruenhagen. Not sure who the other guy is.
The famous guy is Jon Gruenhagen. Not sure who the other guy is.

came out of the tournament and can be seen here. If anyone would like a hard copy of any of the images, let me know and I’ll try to accommodate.

There were some interesting discoveries made during the course of this event. I learned that Gerry Bloch can make thirty foot putts whenever he pleases. He just doesn’t always want to do so; he feels that would be showing off. Julian Fruhling routinely uses the flagstick to stop his trap shots. Bryan Noonan’s caddie can’t read putts after the fifth green.  Nick De Santis’ fairway swing improves after his eighth shot. Buddy Stein doesn’t play two nines; he does two shows. Jerry Whalen’s 2013 Fall Classic (8 of 230)swing was created using spare parts from the TaylorMade factory. John Gruenhagen gives golf lessons to Charles Barkley. But by far and away the most amazing fact discovered during the Fall Classic is that Anthony “Mr. Stick” Arvidson actually uses magic clubs. Check out the iron he used during this swing. I can assure you that I have no clubs in my bag that light up without being plugged in. Where can I buy some of these?2013 Fall Classic (230 of 230)

Handicap Committee News

Jerry Whalen
Jerry Whalen

A tip of the hat to Jerry Whalen. After many years of service as the Chairman of the Gainey Ranch Handicap Committee, Jerry has elected to step down. He’ll stay on the Committee as an emeritus member. “Emeritus” comes from the Latin and means “wants to play more golf and work less”.

The Handicap Committee is mandated by the United States Golf Association and is a requirement to maintain the license with the Men’s Golf Association and the Women’s Golf Association. Without that license, we would not be allowed to use any of the USGA trademarks and systems including course ratings and the actual Handicap System itself. In other words, without the Committee, you wouldn’t be allowed to have a handicap index. Neither would you be permitted to play in any USGA sanctioned events anywhere the USGA has jurisdiction.

The Committee has a number of responsibilities, some of which include (1) taking the steps necessary to educate the membership as to the handicap rules, posting requirements, equitable stroke control, etc., (2) monitoring the membership to make certain all rounds played are properly posted and that all rounds not played are not posted, (3) encouraging the club and its golf associations to use the proper handicap rules in tournaments and golf events and (4) making handicap adjustments to individual golfers when their actions or non-actions warrant them.

The Handicap Committee is currently composed of the following club members and employees: Howard Jones (Chairman), Diane Coolidge (President WGA), Dave Inman (President MGA), Jerry Whalen (emeritus member) and Matt Anzalone (Head Golf Professional). In an effort to be more open and inclusive, to develop and assure continuity, to spread the work load and increase membership’s awareness of the handicap system and rules, the Committee will be adding two additional “at large” members to the committee. We’re seeking people who are fair, objective and willing to gain an in-depth understanding of the USGA Handicap System. The positions are not “honorary”; they will involve time and effort. If you feel you are a qualified candidate for the job and are willing to serve, please submit your name to one of the members of the committee prior to November 21st.