It was an uneventful week at Gainey Ranch Golf Club. Mike Matz fired an ace on #2 Arroyo. We had ice on the course. Mike Forde made a four-foot putt. And the world ended. Coincidence? I think not.
The course continues to brutalize Gainey golfers with scores soaring. Jason Sample was the only golfer to break 80 during Monday’s madness. Sandy Wiener and Howard Garr shared low net honors barely beating par with a pair of 71s. Average score was over 90. Complete scores here. See team results.
Scoring didn’t improve by Wednesday when the Kildare group had only one of its two dozen players break into the 70s. Again the field average was on the high side of 91. As the end of the world approached, surely it couldn’t be so much worse than some of the scores. Team scores.
1. Tom Hansen and Sandy Wiener – 69
3. Dave Inman and Jim Stamatis – 70
1. Dave Inman – 78
2. Sandy Wiener – 81
3. Jim Stamatis – 82
By the end of the round Friday, the world hadn’t noticeably ended. Golfers started paying a little closer attention to their games and if nothing else, at least got the field average score to under 90 (89.48). Cris Caruso returned to the competition after a layoff due to an injured knee. He took low gross honors with a 78. Scott Thompson was right on his heels with a 79. The greens, especially on the Dunes course, were lightning fast and led to more than a few three (and more) putt holes.
1. Howard Garr – 68
2. Dennis Kildare – 69
3. Bruce Partridge and Mike Wentrup – 70
1. Cris Caruso – 78
2. Scott Thompson -79
3. Rick Brown and Mike Miller – 81
The team game was based upon the brutally challenging “orange ball” format where one team member’s ball will count on any given hole. Taking a 9 or a 10 had a bit of a dampening effect on team scores. Complete team results.
It should be a simple par 4 hole. From the tips it’s only 410 yards. With a slight dog leg, it actually plays a little shorter. For the big hitters, it’s a drive and a sand wedge. Then why does it eat golfers alive?
For every birdie it gives up, it dishes out 57 bogeys or worse. The average score on “The Nemesis” is higher than bogey. It is nearly as high as the average score on the Par 5, #9 Lakes. On one recent day the hole played at an average score of 5.85 strokes.
Just because it has water the entire length of the hole on the right side, just because a safety shot to the left stands a great chance of ending up in cavernous sand traps, just because long knockers can hit it into the water that runs along the left side of the fairway past the traps, just because a stream runs in front of the green, just because the green is rounded by sand traps and just because the green is tricky to even the master putter – some people think the hole is tough. Sissy, I say. Get a grip and hit the ball.
“The Nemesis” isn’t the only name that comes to mind. It could just as easily be called “The Butcher”, “The Monster”, “The Executioner” or “The Cliff” because that’s where many a good round has fallen to its death. The only thing that can be said for certain is that it takes a lot of balls to play #7 Lakes.
You must admit, we’re fortunate to have a course that offers such beauty in the middle of the desert. Obviously, Gainey Ranch isn’t as tough of Pebble Beach or Medinah or the other courses of that class; we wouldn’t want it to be. After all, the suicide rate is high enough without having to stare over the precipice of #8 Pebble Beach every day (although I used to do that and I’m still alive).
Here’s a glance at our #4 Dunes. It’s a great hole. From the tips, it’s just shy of 200 yards and has more sand than the Sahara desert. It can challenge the best golfers. I had the good fortune of being present and watching as George Stelmach’s ball floated upward from the tee box and made its way directly into the bottom of the hole for an ace. I’ve also seen and experienced more than enough double-bogeys on the hole to last a lifetime. But no matter how you slice it, #4 Dunes is a scenic hole.
If anyone says Gainey Ranch Golf Club isn’t one of the most beautiful courses in the Valley, they haven’t played it. I had the pleasure of working the American Junior Golf Association event the last week in June. While waiting for some great young golfers to arrive at my station, I glanced over to #3 Lakes. This is what I saw. Wow!
In the last nearly 100 rounds played by the Kildare group on Wednesdays and Fridays, #3 Lakes has taken few prisoners. Only 2.2% of the attempts have yielded birdies. That’s tougher than every hole on the Arroyo side and equal to the fewest number of birdies on every hole on the Lakes course. The odds of playing it under par are nearly 50 to 1. More than half the attempts have resulted in bogey or worse. 44% have parred the hole.
Next time you’re on the tee and thinking about how easy the hole looks, think again. It’s one of the club’s prettier holes and one of the slyly tough ones. It’s been my experience it’s a fairly easy hole as long as you don’t take too many strokes on it.