Road Holes — 13 April 2012 by Jim Street
No. 6 at The Preserve is a gem

While playing the less-than-plush El Conquistador golf course the other day, one of my playing partners – Tucson buddy Bob Thompson of USA Baseball PA fame – mentioned that a course I should play before moving back to Seattle full-time was The Preserve Golf Club, located in nearby Saddlebrooke.

Mr. T is one smart dude.

On another sun-splashed day in the southern Arizona desert – most days in the southern Arizona desert are sun-splashed – the two of us, along with a middle-aged couple from Portland, Ore., spent slightly more than four hours on the well-manicured and eye-pleasing course near the Santa Catalina Mountains.

We started on the back nine, and took our lumps on No. 10, which happens to be the No. 1 handicap hole on the course. It was the longest 528 yards I can remember, with a lot of trouble left, more trouble right and just a bear of a hole. Ever hear of a snowman in the desert? I got one, arghh!!!

The 6,418 yards from the gold tees offers a great test and some remarkably interesting holes, especially the par-3, 147-yard sixth. This gem of a hole is far removed from what you would expect from a “desert” course.

I have been fortunate to play a lot of rounds in the Tucson area, including the world-renowned Ritz-Carlton at Dove Mountain (still my favorite), but No. 6 at The Preserve moved to the top of my list among favorite holes in southern Arizona.

The tee sits high above the green located in the distance and there is nothing but trouble between you and the dance floor. There is something about hitting downhill that gets the juices flowing. Bob hit first and went about 25 yards too far left, up into the rocks. Mulligan!! I hit an 8-iron short to the right and the ball rolled back into the guck. Takeover!!

With no one challenging our second tee shots (the Phil Mickelson play-the-ball-as-it-lies commercial came to mind) we hit our “real” shots onto the green. Bob two-putted for a par. I three-putted for an almost-par.

We finished the round and both admitted that the $47 through GolfNow price was a great bargain and we’d do it again in a heartbeat.

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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