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AGWS - 7 - A Trip to the Desert (PT III - Firerock)

fter wrapping up in Green Valley and playing Canoa Ranch, my wife and I spent some time together in Scottsdale. This was the only portion of the trip that I did not play golf. It was spent exploring the Scottsdale area, the Botanical Garden and enjoying the awesome shops and restaurants that the city offered.

It was after this small break in Scottsdale that we made the trip out to Fountain Hills for the last portion of our trip. Fountain Hills will always hold a special place in my heart. Starting in 2008, I would spend a weekend there with my Grandpa and we would golf 36 holes every day. We played local courses like Eagle Mountain but I also had the privilege of playing Talking Stick and We Ko Pa (both of those two courses are Coore and Crenshaw design) during the day and then watch the conference tournaments for college basketball at night. This was a tradition all the way until graduating college and since then, I have not been out to Arizona.

Fast forward 5 years to now and I was finally going back, only things would be a little different this trip. The biggest one being that my grandpa would not be there. He was the man that taught me to golf (more on that in a future post) and not having him was going to be a bummer to say the least. In addition to that giant change, we would be staying in his new house with his girlfriend and not playing any of the regular courses I had played growing up. It was a lot of change from what used to be a tradition for me.

My grandpa’s girlfriend was the best host. She was inviting, treated us to cool destinations in town but also still gave my wife and I our space to swim or be on our own. But in addition to those things she also took me golfing and my wife got her much needed time to relax by the pool. Before I go any further, I should say this course is private so unfortunately unless you have an in, you most likely will not be able to play this golf course.

The course I got to play was called Firerock Country Club (not to be confused with world famous Firestone in Akron, OH) and it is a Gary Panks design. Similar to the last course, carts were strongly encouraged but not required which leads to a long drawn out routing. As you would expect, that meant long distances from green to the next tee and also meant severe elevation changes at times. In addition to this type of routing, the 9th hole ends up across the road from the club house but is relatively close to 10 which makes for a tough time to make a pit stop at the turn. But who can fault Panks with this layout? Like all Real Estate projects, there is constant arguing over what land is going to be used for houses and what land is going to be used for golf. The houses surrounding this course are massive and have large swatches of land which I am sure was a conflict when routing this course.

Aside from these minor complaints, I thoroughly enjoyed the course. After shaking out the rust from my previous round, I decided to get the whole experience that Firerock had to offer. I played it all of the way back which puts in just over 7100 yards. However, this was a more friendly 7100 yards than I am used to. In Minnesota, rain and heavy soils tend to reduce the amount of roll you recieve on shots, especially when you have a high ball flight like I do. So when playing at Firerock, it was enjoyable and made for a tamer course with all of the roll out I was getting. This was due to the dry conditions and the rock hard fairways that get baked out in the Arizona sun.

The greens are Firerock were exceptional. Putting is normally the strongest part of game but at Firerock, my knees were knocking with every putt outside of 6 feet. Just like the fairways, due to the dry climate and beating sun, the greens were baked out. Add to that a fresh cut and roll and you have for lightening fast greens. Normally I am all for fast greens but coming from Canoa Ranch where the greens were not even sniffing 8 on the stimp made for a BRUTAL day. I had to log four three-putts for the round.

Immediately after this round, I rushed home, threw my clubs in the travel bag and my wife and I darted to the airport for our returning afternoon flight. This was the conclusion of our trip to Arizona. It was by no means a perfect trip but it is always good to spend time with my wife and play golf. However despite this being the end of the trip, there is still one last blog post for this Arizona trip. There was one specific thing at Firerock that I wanted to mention so stick around for the finale (PT IV) of the Arizona blog later this week.


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