Monday, July 10, 2006

Fifth day, fifth course: Falcon Ridge

On the fifth day of this golf marathon, we had a 5:20 A.M. tee-time at Falcon Ridge. That's right - 5:20 A.M.! Why would we do this to ourselves after four days of four different courses, travel and gambling? Not just to beat the heat, which was the main reason for our other early tee-times. This time, after the round, we had to drive to Las Vegas to catch a flight to our next destination. However, for reasons I won't get into here (feel free to let your imagination fill in the blanks), I experienced Falcon Ridge by myself. Let me just say that even though I was in the swimming pool at 2:00 A.M., I still managed to get a couple hours sleep and made it to the course by 5:00. :P

Falcon Ridge is right there in the "Virgin Valley", so it was a quick 5 minute drive from The Eureka. After checking in, I thought I might hit a few balls to loosen up a bit. And that's exactly what I did. I hit three balls into the net that is the practice area and decided I better save the rest of my swings for the 100+ it would probably take me to get through this round. I was running low on fuel.

Yes, that's the practice area, and yes, that's the moon up there.

After looking at the scorecard and seeing that the forward/gold tees were 4821 yards vs. the next set (silver) at 5976, I decided to make this as easy on myself as possible and went with the golds. While I was checking in, a couple of employees went out to play a round. Other than that, I was the first one out and they didn't put me with anyone else. Just me and an unfamiliar course I had to figure out by myself. Not that I haven't done that plenty of times on the road.

The front nine went surprisingly well. With such short yardages, I left my driver in the bag all day and hit three wood off the tee. I hit three of the six fairways on the front and an amazing 6 greens in regulation. Even though my putting let me down (steady, now) and I had 22 putts in nine holes, I still carded a 42 on the front.

The par-3 #2 hole. Isn't it lovely? I hit the green and 3-putted.

Hole #6: A grand view, for sure. I didn't see any falcons. I'm not sure they know it's their ridge.

Be careful driving on the paths around here. There are some pretty steep grades, so keep it in low gear. At the hole pictured above, they were punching the tee boxes and the markers were down so it was hard to tell where to go. I knew mine wouldn't be at the top but I wanted to take a look. Yikes! The path had gravel all over it and while gently braking my way back down, I spun out and my cart did a 180. Scary! When I got to my tee box, I had to literally clear an area from all the punched turds to stand and tee up. Not surprisingly after all that, I hooked my teeshot into the trees just short of that brown patch beyond the shadow and couldn't find my ball. I took a double.

The greens

There are some really big greens, with some tricky pin placements, but they've also got some friendly flat areas. I'd like another crack at them when my putting's not so incredibly off. I thought my 22 putts on the front were bad. Then I had a shocking 25 on the back! *Interesting tid-bit: The only people out before me were employees and I found myself repairing their fresh ball marks. Tsk, tsk.* Other than that, they were in pretty good shape.

#10 hole: you can see the creek that cuts through the middle. You have to pick a fairway on one side or the other. I chose left and even though I didn't hit it well, I got lucky and it bounced right over the rocks and into the fairway on the other side.

Speaking of the back nine, I had some trouble there aside from my putting. Course knowledge would have helped because there are some blind shots. They do have directional poles, and you really just have to trust them. I'm always skeptical of those because I know they're primarily designed for landing areas for men hitting from the "men's tees." The yardages were deceptive at times, too.

#12: Great view, but watch that yardage. I hit three wood thinking I'd be safe towards the end of the fairway just right of the bunker. My shot looked perfect, but when I got down there I discovered it had bounced right through the fairway and into the water. Then I proceeded to drop there and "play it safe" to the left of the other water instead of going for the green. Splash! I took a nine.

The beach

Somehow, I avoided all the bunkers the day before at Ledges, but Greg told me they were really nice. I meant to go back to the practice bunker so I could try them out but I forgot. Luckily, I got to try out the bunkers at Falcon Ridge on the par-3 #14. I accidentally hit from the silver tees thinking they were the golds (a 60-yard difference) and of course ended up way short. Before I hit I thought "the yardage on that card is wrong" and tried to eyeball it to determine which club to use. As I drove ahead, I discovered the real gold tees and hit another one from there, which is the one that went in the bunker and the one I played to keep my round "official." Anyway, the sand was really nice - light and fluffy but still gritty enough to predict.

The damage

I managed to hit four out of seven fairways on the back and three greens. I came around at the end (typical) and finished with a bogey, par, par, but it wasn't enough. My earlier struggles and my terrible putting had me carding a 53 for the side and a total of 95. *If my handicap chairman is reading this, I posted the 92 after adjusting my 9 and 8 to 7's for equitable stroke control.* Then it was time to go pick up sleeping beauty and head to the airport for the next leg of the trip.

My take

Like Wolf Creek, Falcon Ridge is also neatly carved into the rocky terrain. It also has powerful elevation changes and breathtaking views. With its $45 off-peak and $115 peak rates, I might even call it the poor man's Wolf Creek. It was in really good condition, though, so I don't mean to imply that the course itself is some kind of dog run. The current clubhouse has an old-school muni-type feel, and the staff was down-home kind of friendly. There was a lot of construction going on up by the clubhouse and the range, so they might even be building new ones and fancying it up. Right now at Falcon Ridge, it's all about the golf, and it shows. I really liked the course. The layout is challenging enough but not backbreaking. On another day I might have tried it from the silver tees, but the gold tees were the perfect challenge for me that day.

If you're going to Mesquite, this course is a must for your golf itinerary.

Next post.

1 comment:

mediaguru said...

I've had FR on my list to play for some time. Need to do it for sure. Nice report.