Camelback Ambiente – In a League of Its Own

Ambiente (6 of 7)With more than 200 golf courses in the Phoenix area, we live in a golfer’s paradise. At its heart is Scottsdale. Some of the great and unquestionably some of the most scenic holes in golf are right here in our backyard. Of the courses that can be accessed without membership, the cream of the crop is the Ambiente course at Camelback Golf Club.

Ambiente is barely a year old, but is already in great shape. Greens are fast and true. Fairways are lush. The vistas are magnificent with backdrops of Camelback Mountain and Mummy Mountain. Every hole on this links style course is encased in flower laden wild areas that are beautiful to look at, but voracious in their hunger for errant shots.

Ambiente (4 of 7)The course design is brilliant. Unlike most “resort courses”, this is not one where you stand on every tee box and let it rip into a wide, hazard free fairway. This is a thinking golfer’s course. It’s real golf. You’ve got to manage your game to score well. There’s potential trouble off of every tee box, even the five pars. If you’re the macho type that reflexively grabs driver on every tee box, chances are this course is going bring you to your knees and take your balls. It’s a course for smart golfers. Even off the tee, club selection is an important consideration.

The course is playable at all levels, but if you’re not a low handicap golfer, don’t fool yourself into thinking you should be playing the back tees. At 7,225 yards, it will give the best golfers everything they can handle. The 245 yard par three fifteenth is one of Ambiente’s signature holes. From the tips, you’re hitting to a two tiered green with water on two sides, a cavernous bunker on the left and another one in front of the green. The seventh hole is a good par five over 600 yards long. The fourteenth is another par five, but it only plays at 580 yards. The greens are interesting and challenging, but fair. Stay below the hole.

Ambiente (5 of 7)Although there is a middle set of tees that bring the course down to 6,630 yards, most golfers will find the “Camel” tees give them all they can handle at 6,123 yards. If you play from this forward tee set and conquer the course, move back to the “Verde” tees the next time you play. But I’m betting you’ll beg for mercy before the course does. It’s still rated at 69.0 with a 124 slope from the forward tees. It’s at 73.9 and 138 from the tips.

Ambiente is one of two courses at Camelback Golf Club. Its sister course, Padre, is a fine course in its own right and a good test of golf, but its character is totally different from Ambiente’s. If you’re in Scottsdale for golf, consider playing both courses. Padre almost has the character of a Florida course while Ambiente is like a walk in Scotland. And you don’t even have to go through airport security to experience the differences.

Camelback’s practice facilities, pro-shop and clubhouse are up there with the best of them. The employees are friendly, well-trained and always ready to help.

If I were visiting Scottsdale and only had time to play one of its 200 courses, it would be Camelback Ambiente. But I live here and play three or four rounds per week. I still pick Ambiente. It just doesn’t get much better.

In the Spirit of the Season – the Gift of Camaraderie

Bob Sznewajs' team takes first place
Bob Sznewajs’ team takes first place

Camelback golfers teamed up with golfers from Gainey Ranch in a fun event Friday. The competitors played on the magnificent Ambiente course at Camelback Golf Club. Not only does Ambiente offer a spectacular Scottish links style course, it is in immaculate condition. Unquestionably, it’s the finest course in the area.

Van Ark wins low gross
Van Ark wins low gross

When the last man walked off the course, the team of Bob Sznewajs, Roland Brendel and Howard Jones had conquered the field. Playing a Modified Stableford format with the team’s best ball, they were exceptionally strong racking up 36 points. The team of Mark Van Ark, Pat Collins and Howard Garr played extremely well scoring 33 points. On any other day, that would have probably been good enough to easily beat the field. Ron Dobkin and David Harbour both played well, but didn’t get the support needed from their teams to climb to the top.

Low Gross

  1. Mark Van Ark – 76
  2. Roland Brendel – 78
  3. Howard Jones – 79

Low Net

  1. Howard Jones – 63
  2. Mark Van Ark – 66
  3. David Harbour – 69

Everyone finished with a smile. With absolutely perfect weather, a fabulous course and great company, it was a wonderful day to be in Scottsdale, Arizona. There were no snow shovels, no mukluks and no signs of frostbite. Some place better to tee it up? I can’t imagine where that would be.

Here’s a look at the “net scores” turned in on the day. We played from the forward tees (equivalent in slope and rating to the middle tees at Gainey) so the course was far gentler than it could have been.Stats20141219

Eliminate the Risk of Another Stroke

RickBrownGolf cannot be mastered. Some of us play just for that reason. It takes fortitude, determination, patience, persistence, dedication, money, more money and balls to play the game. Avid adherents to the game play in vicious downpours, freezing weather and gale force winds. It’s a game that means everything, yet it means nothing.

With the passage of years, we all develop our own “systems” intended to guide us to mastery of the game. Some have better systems than others. Some take lessons. Some buy the latest and greatest equipment. Some practice without respite. Some meditate. Others adopt strange diets and drink magic potions. Some cheat.

Continue reading “Eliminate the Risk of Another Stroke”

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble . . .

BaileyBlessesGolf
Ogrin speaks with the mortals while standing on water.

Men’s Day, one day before Thanksgiving:  If you were wondering who the turkeys were and your names are not Nichols or Ogrin, then look in the mirror.  On a day when the course beat up 95% of the field, the team of Mike Nichols, Bailey Ogrin and guests from the law firm of Caprio & Crown won a “no contest” verdict with a nine point thrashing of the rest of the field.  Not only did they eat our dinner, but most of the desert as well with Bailey gobbling up five skins, Nichols & Crown one each leaving two left overs for Vlah and Hourihan.

As for the mere mortals with team scores clustered between 130 & 135, they were only 9 points behind the winners at 121.

Continue reading “Gobble, Gobble, Gobble . . .”

Wiener Rode a Horse Named Heard

Camelback Ambiente
Camelback Ambiente

Monday’s match was held on the Camelback Ambiente course, one of the finest golf course layouts in the Valley. Two-man teams competed in a modified Stableford format. Sandy Wiener drew Heard Broadrick as a partner. For the first nine holes, Sandy could have stayed in the club house. Heard came out like a snake bit horse and shot a net 33 on the

Heard on the course
Heard on the course

front side and single-handedly accounted for sixteen points. They only needed six more between the two of them to win first place. They got nine more and took the crown with points to spare. Harold Hoeg and Scott Hull edged out Laurence Rosen and Howard Jones by one thin, lucky point to take second place. Rosen and Jones retained their amateur status by finishing out of the money.

Broadrick and Hoeg went home with the lion’s share of the skins pot with three each. Rose, Jones and Wiener left with the table scraps.

Low Gross

  1. Harold Hoeg – 77
  2. Howard Jones – 83

Low Net Continue reading “Wiener Rode a Horse Named Heard”

Maybe Mantle Missed the Memo!

Mantle started strong and finished stronger
Mantle started strong and finished stronger

Jim Mantle was the only golfer to come close to shooting his handicap in the Pat Collins Men’s Day East event Wednesday on the South Course of Talking Stick. Mantle managed to card a round only three strokes over his handicap to capture low gross honors. Talking Stick brutalized everyone else in the field with lightning fast greens, nearly impossible pin placements and bad karma. A dozen players were more than ten strokes over their handicaps. Ken Vlah was twenty!

Nonetheless, it was a fun filled field where everyone was united in sharing their common miseries of sky high scores. Mantle teamed with Dennis Propp to capture first place in the team game. They beat Heard Broadrick and Howard Jones by four strokes. Laurence Rosen and Mike Forde fell one stroke back in third place. There were eight skins paid, two each to Jim Mantle and Howard Garr. Jim Speck, Scott Hull, Laurence Rosen and Mike Forde ran with the others. Continue reading “Maybe Mantle Missed the Memo!”

Course Review – Troon North, the Pinnacle Course

troon-northIf the price of a round of golf were to correlate well with the quality of the golfing experience, Troon North would be one of golf’s great courses. The GolfNow.com rate is north of a hundred dollars with some tee times calling for a $235 fee. And GolfNow.com generally offers some pretty heavy discounts.

Unfortunately, Troon North is not a world class course. It is a fine course and I recommend playing it. The views are spectacular. The course is fair, at least as fair as a “desert course” can be. But it’s a public course. As a result, it gets a lot of play. It has been my experience that public courses with plenty of play host golfers that don’t seem to know the purpose of the little sand canisters mounted on the carts or the rakes that adorn the sand traps. To some of their customers, ball mark repair is a concept as foreign as a Tibetan poetry reading.

Continue reading “Course Review – Troon North, the Pinnacle Course”