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AGWS - 6 - A Trip to the Desert (PT II - Canoa Ranch)

As you recall from part one of my Arizona blog post, the first part of my trip to Arizona was to Green Valley, Arizona. Green Valley is a small retirement town located 30 minutes south of Tucson and home to over 6 golf courses that are loaded with Senior play.

The once course that I played was called Canoa Ranch Golf Club. Canoa Ranch was designed by Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley and has a sister course across town called Torres Blancas. Canoa Ranch Tips out at just over 7,000 yards and features bent grass greens with bermuda grass everywhere else. When I played it, It was my first round since the end of September so I played it up at just under 6,700 yards. My wife’s uncle invited me out to play in his Senior League where we played best ball low net and had a skins game, a ten dollar buy in for all the action.

When I played Canoa Ranch, there were two things going against which I will try not to hold against it. One thing was the weather. As mentioned in the previous blog post, my wife and I got much colder weather than one would expect to get in Arizona. This entire round was played in under 50 degree weather with very consistent 20 mile an hour winds with gusts near 30. The second thing that was unfortunate about the timing of playing this course was the greens. Recently Conoa Ranch is in a transition period between owners and this has left some sort of disease running rampant through the greens. I would say less than half of the greens were impacted by this disease but that ones that were affected were in brutal shape. Lots of skipping putts and lots of putts that were thrown off line by bare patches of ground.

Aside from those two things, Canoa Ranch was a great experience. It was a very inviting and open course to allow me to shake off the winter rust from my game. It was everything a course should be in a town densely populated by seniors. There were multiple green complexes that allowed for shots to me run up and the greens were soft (well watered) and rolling no more than a 7 or 8 on the stimpmeter. Additionally the course was very cart friendly and actually it was required that you take a cart (However in a future blog post you will learn that I am very Anti-cart in golf for multiple reasons but I will not hold it against this course. Just know that I actually really hated having to take a cart). That was because the distance between green to tee was sometimes a good 30 second to minute long cart ride. These long cart rides did not bother me though because it was during this time that I was able to soak in the views of the mountains. There were endless views of the mountains on this course and that is something that I was thankful for. I loved taking in the beautiful scenery.

Something that became a theme for the trip was my inability to chip out of the baked out, dormant bermuda. Playing golf in the midwest I am used to chip shots sitting up on some fluffy green grass or having it settle down in heavy rough. Both are shots that I am very comfortable hitting. In fact, chipping is usually one of the strongest parts of my game. However in Arizona, I really struggled to hit the proper chip shots. The ball was flat on the rock hard ground and required a clean pick in order to hit the proper shot. A majority of these chips were skulled by me as my wedge “skipped” off the dirt and through impact causing me to thin multiple wedge shots. This is something I got better at by the end of the round but I think that I will need to continually work on as I travel to play golf in different environments.

One final thing was the pricing of the round. They have dynamic pricing to accommodate the fluctuating play that seniors provide but with that said, the average round is still somewhere near $70 with a cart. As someone who has grown up playing local municipal golf courses, that is too much money for me. I understand that the rate includes a cart but to me, to cross the $50 dollar threshold a course either needs to be in immaculate shape or needs to hold my attention architecturally. Unfortunately Canoa Ranch did neither of those things for me but that does not mean I did not enjoy the course. The course accomplishes what it should and that is to provide an easy inviting environment for seniors to play golf.


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