How my OGIO let me down – Part 1

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Sedona, AZ  Seven Canyons Golf Club 07/03/2012

When we planned our little vacation to Sedona, I was dead set on getting out to a course. Taking in some southwest golf in a stunning setting was a priority. The first place I always look when I’m going to be heading out of town to an unfamiliar area is Google Maps. You can quickly scan the city and see where the courses are and get a feel for where you’re going to be somewhat easy. When I zoomed out of the Sedona area and saw where Seven Canyons was I knew right away that was where I was going to play.

It’s sad what has taken place at Seven Canyons

I’m not aware of all the details so don’t hold me to this but Seven Canyons used to be a private club and from the photo’s on their site I can tell that it was once a very, very special place.

Well, there is nothing like a housing bubble burst and downed economy to take what could be a spectacular venue and turn it into a poorly ran municipal course literally in the middle of nowhere.

I know that seems harsh, but I have my reasons. Those reasons may be misguided or unjustified in some peoples eyes, but I had unreasonably high expectations of playing a once private course designed by the great Tom Weiskopf, and I feel like I was let down tremendously.

I’ll get to the good first.

The surrounding mountains in the Sedona area are without a doubt utterly breathtaking, and the golf course is completely removed from civilization has its advantages. It’s quiet, calm, peaceful and standing before the mountains warming up at their practice facility was a fantastic memory I’ll hold on to for a while. At least until Pebble Beach!

That’s good enough, right? OK, maybe a little more before the Freddy Kruger claws come out.

I was greeted at the gate by an overly friendly attendant that you could tell loved his job. How are you doing today? Have you ever been here before? Today’s a great day for a hole in one, let’s make it happen! He had them all. At first, I was thinking “Come on you SOB open the gate and let’s get to this,” but his kind demeanor and love of life showed and I smiled as I drove away. You just don’t get that in Vegas. The kindness didn’t stop there. Everyone I encountered was on the top of their game.

The Staff was AMAZING.

They have a fantastic staff at the course, and even the maintenance crew had enough common sense to pull behind a tree, shut off the tractor they were on and be entirely quiet while we played through. The starter was fantastic. Here in Vegas, you get a lot of starters who just put their hand out for a receipt and with the other point in a general vicinity to where the first tee might be. That is if there is even one at all. Seven Canyons has the customer service down. I’ve given them all credit because every employee there, that I interacted with did a bang up job!

Hello you Javelina’s

I almost forgot there was another excellent item that took place. We were about to tee off on the 9th hole when a family of wild Javelina decided to stroll through the area. I was hoping for a Bald Eagle or something a little more dramatic, but it was neat to watch the adults walk out of the woods and strut across the tee box while their little ones stayed in the brush until we headed off.

It started off OK

My warm-up went decent, nothing to brag about. I had some things to correct before the first tee, and I wasn’t ready for that. I like being ready with a game plan in effect when I leave the practice area, but that day I had a terrible flaw with my driver, and I was determined to get it fixed before I went to play. The fix took longer than I thought it would and I lost track of time, which meant no warm up on my chipping and putting.  A costly error I would find out later.

The first sign of bad things to come came early. I was supposed to be paired up with another player, but he had called and rebooked his time for later in the day, and I went out as a single between a group of three in front of me and a group of four set to go off about ten minutes after. I wasn’t worried about the group behind; there was no way they were going to catch me, I was more concerned with the group ahead I was bound to catch them, and then the waiting would begin.

The First Drive of the day foreshadowed my round.

I took my time on the first tee, trying not to rush into it. I chatted up the starter for a bit and then when I was ready, I began the round. My first tee shot I bombed down the fairway. There was only one problem; the ball flight was of the draw variety. Well, I don’t hit a draw. I repeat I DON’T EVER HIT A DRAW!

I wasn’t lined to play a draw, and as the ball split the middle for the first portion of the fairway, it quickly made its way left, bounced off the cart path and ended up in a wooded area. “Ooooh, that ain’t good for sure.” said the starter. I did manage to get it down the fairway 260 yards, with a little help from the cart path, but the trees killed all of the ball’s momentum. I had to take a penalty on the first hole, and I wasn’t too happy about it. Lucky for me I nailed my approach shot and left myself a very makeable 12′ putt.

Bad greens are no fun.

Before I left the practice green I asked the attendant at the range “How are the greens rolling, I lost track of time and didn’t get in any putting.” He told me they were rolling a little slow and bumpy since there has been a ton of water put on the course due to the high heat. “Make sure you hit the ball.” were his parting words.

With that in mind, I lined up the putt which I thought was in the bag.  A little downhill and hardly any break. I made the stroke, and the ball went an amazing 4′. No shit. Four f-ing feet. I stood there for a minute; it took some time to get my jaw back up to my mouth. I hammered the next putt and fortunately made the bogey, but man I couldn’t believe what had just happened.

Bad golf is worse.

The next hole I hit another decent drive. It just bounced into the first cut of rough. I left myself a decent lie and angle to the green. I was about 200 out and in the rough. With an easy five iron, my plan was just to get it down the fairway. I pulled that shot off perfectly and had a short pitch to a front placement pin. I wedged up from there and had an 18 footer that was severely uphill. Like it had just happened, mainly because it just did, I quickly recalled the atrocity that took place on the first green and made sure I hit the ball this time.

Well, what I was told before the round may have been true on the first green, the young man’s advice wasn’t worth squat on the 2nd green. I hit my putt, and the ball rolled as true as ever and sailed on by the hole by a good 25 feet. Seriously. I had a steep uphill putt from 18,’ and I hit the ball a good 40′. There was no way I was having that. I walked over to the ball picked it up and went back to the original spot and hit the same shot. This time I put the ball within 18″, knocked that one in and got the heck out of Dodge.

The bad experience continues.

That’s how the entire day was. Nothing was working well for me.  The elevation of the course had me stumped. I had an approach shot from 167 yards on the 13th hole. The ball was nestled in a section of rough, not too deep but enough to cause some issues if not struck well. My 6I is normally my 175-185 club so considering the circumstances I felt comfortable hitting the shot with it. I swung, and the ball came flying out,  hit the left side apron of the green and carried 25 yards past it and into the woods. Another penalty stroke.  192 yards, out of the rough? OK. Penalized for a great swing. Gotta love it.

The Bunkers were even worse. Zero consistency. I was in the bunkers all day, and after the first one, I liked what I saw. I hit my first sand shot a little too fat and didn’t get out of the bunker. The next swing was beautiful, great impact, the lovely “thud” we all love to hear so much from the sand. The ball popped right out and onto the green. If all the bunkers played like that one did, I’d have nothing to worry about if I found myself in another one.

Who was maintaining this place?

Sad that wasn’t the case. A few holes later on the next Par 3, I was again in the sand. This wasn’t sand though; it was…. was…. hell, I can’t even think of a comparison for it. Hard, chunky, it wasn’t sand that’s for sure. It was something I wasn’t expecting from such a highly recommended and touted course. Then as we made the turn and hit the first Par 3 on the back. I found myself in another bunker. This one had more sand inside it than any bunker I have ever been in, and I’ve been in a lot! No joke though, when I took my stance you couldn’t see my shoes, I kept sinking further down every time I tried to re-position my feet. Complete sham in my opinion.

I couldn’t believe this was happening.

The bad greens were a disgrace. There were not two greens that rolled similar over the entire 18 holes. The bunkers made it worse. After the last bunker fiasco, I started looking at some of the other bunkers on the course and couldn’t believe that 90% weren’t staked as ground under repair because that’s the only way I viewed them. The fairways weren’t much better. There are a lot of rolling hills and valleys all over the course, and if there was a low spot, you were in marshland. So wet and so muddy. There was no way to get a good footing for your shot and good luck guessing how the ball was going to come out! So much for being rewarded with a fairway!

I battled my way through the course, which by the way is marked probably worse than any course I’ve ever been on. At least twice myself and the group I joined up with had no idea we were on a tee box we had already hit off previously in the round, just facing a different direction. That shocked the heck out of me.

I recorded a score of 104 with 11 penalties 36 putts and eight sand shots (over three holes). I was surprised when I saw I only had 36 putts. For sure I thought it was going to be in the 40’s.

The worse was yet to come.

So there you have it. A bad round of golf. On an over-hyped, over-priced golf course. In the middle of some of the most beautiful scenery, you can imagine. Just when I thought I was done and ready to put the day behind me it quickly got much worse!

I’ll tell you all about that in part 2 of The day my OGIO let me down.





Follow Mathew Wangrycht:

Writer and founder of the golf blog The Breakfast Ball. My wife will tell you I'm obsessed with the game, she's right! It's that obsession which drives me to become a better player and make this site enjoyable for everyone.

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