Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen


Citizen Staff Writer



With the midwinter sun beaming down on one of the thickest stands of saguaros I have ever seen and the wood-paneled locker room lulling me into a very real sense of security, I never dreamed I was about to have my brains beat out.

But I was and I did and I loved every minute of leaving my figurative blood and guts all over the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain.

The golf experience at the Ritz transcends golf itself, lifting patrons (this one, at least) straight into the realm of don’t-give-a-$#@!-what-the-score-is bliss. My Media Day circuit with credentialed journalists on Feb. 5 was a churchlike joy and offered a taste of what’s in store for the pros during the Accenture Match Play Championship next week and later for the public.

My day of slashing and hacking around the course – the Saguaro and Tortolita nines, the same layout to be used for the Match Play – ended with a count too far above par to even mention here. My string of 6s and 7s and one measly par 5 did not help our one-best-ball score of 80-plus. I picked up several times

Thank God for Oliver, the Irish golf writer-cum-Tucson snowbird. His score was our score for the match, since we used his count on every hole. It was a bad day, even for him. But the course offered everything a golfer could want – challenges above all else.

While the Gallery course seemed more like a fairly smooth Caribbean sea of green from the tee boxes, the Ritz seems like a choppy North Sea. The wavy expanses of Ritz fairway – with ample landing areas – is more broken by sand trap whitecaps requiring a double carry at times.

The fairway bunkers at the Ritz offer repeated consternation. Strategically placed by designer Jack Nicklaus in landing areas, they will force choices. Carry the bunker, and cut the corner? Lay up, and play safe? Tee placement ensures decisions at all skill levels, though 20ish handicappers like myself are occasionally forced to lay up on Par 4s to avoid disaster.

The fairways themselves seemed narrower than last year’s course, squeezed a bit to challenge the accuracy of big hitters, perhaps.

The greens on the Ritz course felt more heavily guarded than those at the Gallery. Deep, potlike bunkers guard some greens – a few with lips above eye level (one of which I skulked out of in shame after two attempts to exit and a 40-yard skull that I left in the bushes). For a 20-handicapper, the bunkers are intimidating. Maybe not so much for the world’s 64 best golfers.

The Ritz greens are more rippled than the Gallery, like sheets when you flap them in the air to settle over the bed. In 18 holes I had about two straight putts. Several from inside 20 feet broke twice. Longer putts often twisted like the Catalina Highway.

The greens will likely be mowed short and rolled hard for the tournament. Look for the matches – as they often do – to hinge on birdie and par putts.

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This blog page archives the entire digital archive of the Tucson Citizen from 1993 to 2009. It was gleaned from a database that was not intended to be displayed as a public web archive. Therefore, some of the text in some stories displays a little oddly. Also, this database did not contain any links to photos, so though the archive contains numerous captions for photos, there are no links to any of those photos.

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In TucsonCitizen.com Morgue, Part 1, we have preserved the Tucson Citizen newspaper's web archive from 2006 to 2009. To view those stories (all of which are duplicated here) go to Morgue Part 1

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