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.

Author: h. Alton Jones


8 thoughts on “Arizona’s Homeless to Take Up Residence in the Arroyos”

  1. One must remember that the roots of golf lie in the homeland of Scottish Calvinism. Nothing more needs be said. Besides, most golfers are closet manic-depresives anyway…I could not agree more with your thoughts.


  2. Hurrah! Be prepared for a lot of dissenters. I agree with Miller, keep the ball in play. Think about your shot and the consequences.


  3. Well done, Howard. Nice photo of the flooded channel. I’m an advocate of building dams along the Arroyo for a permanent body of water throughout the property!



  4. I suggest we use wooden shafts, balata balls and place alligators and Cottonmouths from Louisiana in the flooded arroyos.

    Why not go back to the early 1900s and really play golf as it should be done???


  5. Please note, my last comment was not a complaint. As long as Mr. Jones brings at least $30 to each match I am happy. Linda is happy, Phoebe my dog is happy….


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