I played this course in mid-March and, unsurprisingly, found it to be one of the most difficult I’ve played on. Fair warning, I have a 13 handicap, don’t normally play courses this difficult, drive it around 260 and approach shots beyond 150 yards are probably the worst part of my game. So please keep in mind that this is from a mediocre golfer’s perspective. I ended up with a 92.
The par 4s in particular were difficult due to their length and bunker placement. The course is set up perfectly to be very difficult for 13-handicappers like myself: I’m not long enough to get over the first wave of fairway bunkers and the course is narrow enough to really punish wayward drives and approaches. The fairway bunkers have lips that are several feet high, essentially a one-stroke penalty unless your ball stops in the middle. My ball did not stop in the middle. So, you take your medicine and hit an 8 through wedge out and try and make it up on the approach. I did not often make it up on the approach because the greens are pretty unforgiving, as well. It had also torrentially rained the day before, but I’m not making excuses. I’m just not that good.
Because I kind of suck, I actually hit the clubhouse patio on the 9th hole. It’s a shortish par 5, and I popped my 3 wood into the bunker that keeps golfers like me from rolling their second shot into the drink. There is another bunker that is between the fountain and the green. So, I’m about 30 yards out. With water in between me and the green, I did not want to be short so got a little too much out of the trap and flew the ball on the cart path where it bounced a million feet in the air, slowly but inevitably hopping into the plate glass of the restaurant. A man kindly came out and threw me the ball while telling someone on his cellphone that some jackass had just hit a two-iron from 30 yards out. Defeated, I picked up and went to 10 and wondered, for a moment, why I had actually spent money to experience this.
I actually did not love playing this course as much as some others in Arizona, and not just because I didn’t play that well. It’s situated right next to a private airport and is directly in the flight path for landings. It was extremely loud and not the peaceful desert sanctuary you get at the hundreds of other courses in the area.
All in all, it’s nice to be able to say I’ve played it but I actually enjoyed the more remote courses like Vista Verde or the Rio Verde complex more than TPC. By no means am I saying I regret having this chance to hit the clubhouse on 9, hit about eight 9 irons out of near-pot bunkers that are 200 yards out, or search for my ball underneath flooded Madrona trees, but I’ll need to drop that handicap a few strokes before we meet again.