Tag Archives: Garrity Bunker

The Deep Six Will Leave You Gasping

Underwater golf path

Golfers on the way to Davey Jones’ Locker after a round with Aqualad. (Photo credit: Waterstudio)

All our course raters, both paid and unpaid, report to Top 50 V.P. and Director of Course Rating, Gary Van Sickle. He massages the raw data and forwards it to the basement computer room here at Catch Basin. A few of our raters, however, are so specialized in their knowledge that Gary encourages them to bypass the Cal Sci guys and submit their rankings directly to me. That explains the email and bulky attachment that arrived yesterday:

To: Gary Van Sickle. From: The Coraldesk of Aquaman, Lord of Atlantis. Date: Benday, Germcember 9, 2012

Aquaman was quivered when he failed to get a response from you earlier. So he surmised that his half-man/half-walrus manservant emailed the following piece to the wrong address. So, here it is again for your puny human enjoyment:

Atlantis, Under the Sea—It is obvious from John Garrity’s absurdly biased course rankings that he wouldn’t know a mashie from a porcupine or a dog-leg left from a unitard (that’s the offspring from a unicorn and a minotaur—duh). It has become increasingly difficult to read Garrity’s rankings, which are embarrassingly biased toward courses played by you annoying air-breathers, while you continue to ignore the world’s greatest underwater courses here on our fabulous Continent of Atlantis.

Oh, that’s right. You can’t breathe water like I can. That Kevin Costner guy tried once in a really bad movie. If only he’d spent more time underwater in that film, he might have had a winner. Still, I know a lot of people wish he’d take a dirt nap and stop being so insufferable based on so little.

But I digress. Since Garrity isn’t going to go anywhere near Atlantis for golf because of his picayune whining—“But I’d drown!”—I have decided to help his sorry website (which is drier than those things you airbreathers call cracked wheat bread) by providing you with a list of the Six Best Courses in Atlantis. (We call ‘em The Deep Six.) Just for the suspense factor, I’ll start at No. 6 and count down. I believe one of your air-breathing gods does something similar—David Letterman.

No. 6, Nautilus Golf Club. This is a stellar and demanding 1,424-fathom layout that winds back and forth through scenic kelp fields. Which means you can stop and have a snack at your leisure. Thus, no beverage & snack sub service is provided by the club. The signature hole, obviously, is the 96-fathom par-3 13th hole, which drops practically straight down into a dormant volcanic dome. My son, Aqualad, once aced it with a 7-iron, having shrewdly played the typical left-to-right underseas current just right. It hit the pin, hung on the lip and dropped just before a deadly manta ray stung Aqualad’s caddie, killing him instantly. I’ll never forget the look of satisfaction on Aqualad’s face. It was his first hole in one!

No. 5, The Links at Mariana Trench. I’m sure that I, Aquaman, Lord of Atlantis, don’t have to tell you what a tough track this is. It’s 6.8 miles down, kind of near a dirt clod you air-breathers call Guam. Because of the depth, well, the ball just doesn’t carry well. You will wear out your fairway woods here. It’s longer than a thing that’s the opposite of short. (Ha-ha—another of our favorite Atlantan sayings. One more: Ha.) The finishing hole, one nasty par 5, plays through the Challenger Deep, a slot between two mountains at the Trench’s southern end. It makes Pebble Beach’s 18th hole look like a piece of snot from a blue whale. It really does.

No. 4, Atlantis Country Club. Well, I don’t think I need to even mention the obvious attributes of the most famous course in Atlantis. I’m sure you all remember the time King Neptune made an obsquidian on the 14th, the hardest par-7 on the planet. (What? You don’t know that an obsquidian is a hole played in 5 under par? Why do I waste my time with you air-breathing clodhoppers?) Neptune holed an eel-wood for a deuce en route to winning the Oceanic Masters in ’97, duh. Most famous shot ever, double duh.

No. 3, The Neptunia Club. This is the favorite course of my daughter, Aquabitch. Sure, it’s on the short side and is only a par 68, but there’s no debating the beauty of the coral reef formations that you land-clods haven’t yet destroyed.  Also, it’s well-lit by phosphorescent plankton. What, you’ve never heard of that? Well, I’m not telling you where this place is. Plus, there’s always a sense of excitement as it plays through a popular white shark breeding ground. No biggie, since my telepathic powers enable me to control all of the finny minions. Which is why I never have to pay for a caddie. It’s good to be Lord of Atlantis.

No. 2, Oceania Golf Links. The Big O is a brute. Small greens, lots of foliage, and lots of current. As we say down here, If there’s nae current, there’s nae gawlf. Most of the back nine plays into the prevailing current, so it’s a real bitch, no relation to my daughter. No course in Atlantis has tougher greens to read or faster greens to putt on, either. You may as well try to putt on a squirming dolphin. I have, and trust me, it’s just not as much fun as you thought it would be. Par is a good score at The Big O. The 17th is the signature hole. It’s a double seahorse-leg par 5 with trouble everywhere, including the Wreck of the Mary Deare left of the green (but not really in play unless you really yank one) and assorted and dreaded coral traps. Man, you go in those and you’re just taking a drop unless you’ve got a death wish—which, if you’re an air-breather, I, Aquaman, Lord of Atlantis, encourage.

No. 1, The Jules Verne Club. No surprise here. It’s the most exclusive club in Atlantis and the toughest course to get on. You’ve gotta know somebody who knows somebody who eats whale bait. The course is iconic, having hosted the Atlantis Open in the tournament’s early years. Most people already know every hole from watching those old telecasts, so it’s a thrill beyond sonic pings if they’re afforded a rare chance to play. You can shoot 30 on the back nine, which is spectacular, or you can shoot 51. It’s the most exciting layout in Atlantis, although part of it is due to those discarded underwater mines from WWII. The 18th is arguably the greatest hole here. From an elevated tee, you cross a bottomless trench that probably goes directly to the earth’s core. (We think. We don’t know since nobody has ever made it back, but it was probably an old shortcut through the planet left by alien spaceships). You don’t clear that with your drive, you’re re-teeing, lemme tell you. From there, your second shot is a long carry over a cavern (where Magellan’s bones are stored—but that’s another story!) and an adjacent trench that features submarine wreckage from The Thresher. There’s no good place to miss this elevated green, which is surrounded by poisonous sponge fields (bet you didn’t know about that, either, you clod-breathers!), a jelly-fish bunker (hah!) and a false front that hides the entrance to the cave that holds the button we can push to create a tsunami anywhere in the world we want. I don’t want to brag, but I birdied the 18th last time I played there, taking 250 golden pazoosas off Aqualad, who still has no short game even though I tell him to practice. I won two presses and a Hawaiian carryover. I would’ve bought Aqualad an adult beverage after the round, but he forgot to bring a splacket to wear over his mer-tail, as club rules state, so we weren’t allowed in the men’s grill-cave.

Well, there you have it. As you can plainly see, John Garrity’s Top 50 is irrelevant when compared to The Deep Six. We play real golf here in Atlantis, Garrity, not patty-cake air-breathing glop-along. Your so-called Top 50 list? It’s just a silly fantasy. May the kelp be with you.

All the best—

Aquaman, Lord of Atlantis.

Despite his prickly and provocative outbursts, Aquaman has proven to be one of our most reliable raters. (He’s cheap, too. He works for sand dollars and the occasional package of Mrs. Paul’s Crunchy Fish Sticks.) He was way off-base, though, in thinking that we didn’t receive his original email. We were simply waiting for our underwater photogs to return to port with their catch of course photos.

Unfortunately, we’re still waiting. Look for a photo gallery in the near future.

Top 50 on TV: Speaking of underwater, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions is underway on the 34th-ranked Plantation Course (home of the Garrity Bunker) at Maui’s Kapalua Resort. Forty-mile-an-hour winds and heavy rain washed out Friday’s first round, but today’s forecast of 40-mph winds and heavy rain should be perfect for 36-holes of catchup golf. (The top-7 guys in the World Ranking passed on Kapalua. They must be kicking themselves right now.)

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Scottsdale Courses Impress Press Horde at Xona Media Golf Classic

“Your list is crazy,” a shuttle bus driver told me the other day. “Where are the desert courses? Why no love for the sun-kissed layouts where emerald-green turf meets burnished waste, where white-sand bunkers tease your redlands buttes, where … excuse me, Terminal Four! …  Southwest, Delta, Frontier … Please check for personal belongings ….”

The shuttle driver, like most critics of the Top 50, was strong on imagery but weak on evidence. Several of my highest-rated courses are on desert or desert-like sites, including Jim Engh’s Redlands Mesa, No. 27 and Medicine Hole, No. 38,  Desmond Muirhead’s Mission Hills, No. 44, and Schmidt-Curley’s Southern Dunes, No. 50.* If you broaden the definition of “desert” to include other mauvaises terres, you could throw in arid and mountainous Castle Pines, No. 37, and the two prairie courses, Prairie Dunes, No. 6 and Sand Hills, No. 19, where bobcats and bison run wild.

*Several other Top 50 courses are situated in cultural wastelands, but I’m not counting those.

Superstition Mountain Country Club

Superstition Mountain's range gets an A-plus from media golfers. (John Garrity)

Furthermore, my “Seasonally-Adjusted Top 50,” which is available only to pay-service subscribers, is riddled with desert courses. That’s because today, on the 11th of December, Scott Miller’s Cholla Course at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club in Scottsdale, Az., is way, way better than Minnesota’s Interlachen Country Club, which is riding out a blizzard expected to leave a foot of snow on the ground. Similarly, the Prospector Course at Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club, which has hosted Champions Tour and LPGA events in the past decade, is a far better course at this minute than Donald Ross’s highly-esteemed East Course at Oak Hill Country Club.

I know this to be true because I have just returned from four days of cutthroat competition at the Xona Golf Media Classic in Scottsdale, Ariz. Staged annually by a consortium of desert CVBs, golf clubs and local entrepreneurs, the Media Classic attracts more than a hundred of the game’s top writers and broadcasters to a four-day melee with local club pros, club managers and professional magicians.

Chuck Garbedian

A tip of the Bushwood hat from celeb golfer Chuck Garbedian. (John Garrity)

The intent of the organizers was clear: to promote Scottsdale as “The World’s Premier Golf Destination.” The intent of the invitees was just as clear: to play desert golf by day and to party by night at the Xona Resort Suites, a four-pool facility adjacent to the luxurious Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort. While not a celebrity tournament, per se, the Media Classic afforded lucky passersby glimpses of Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee, GOLF Magazine’s “Travelin’ Joe” Passov, Sports Illustrated’s Gary Van Sickle (with his touring-pro son, Mike Van Sickle) and legendary Milwaukee broadcaster and college golf coach, Chuck Garbedian.

I’ll relate some anecdotes from this year’s Media Classic in a future post, but first I need to share this offer from the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. Clicking on the link will take you to a web page offering three free golf trips for two. The free packages include a three-night stay at the Xona Resort Suites, three rounds of golf at one of Scottsdale’s award-winning courses, two 60-minute spa treatments at the Spa at Four Seasons Resort at Troon North, dinner for two at The Capital Grille, and your choice of one of 7 other tourist attractions, such as the Phoenix Zoo, the Out of Africa Wildlife Park or a hot air balloon ride. For additional details, visit www.scottsdalegolfgetaways.com.

I’d say more, but my laptop is running low on bold-face type.

Stephanie Wie at Kapalua

Bunkered! Stephanie Wie in Kapalua's "Garrity Bunker."


Top 50 on TV: Nothing this week, but I recently received this photograph of golf blogger extraordinaire Stephanie Wie in the notorious “Garrity Bunker” on the tk-ranked Plantation Course at the Kapalua Resort, Maui. (Stephanie is the small, white object stranded in the sand.) The photo was taken during the blogger’s recent round with longtime Kapalua golf titan Gary Planos.

The Garrity Bunker, as most readers of the Top 50 know, was added to the Crenshaw-Coore Plantation Course in its rookie year after I struck a formidable tee shot up the left side of the thirteenth fairway during a round with Planos. “Wonderful drive!” Gary burbled at the time, only to eat his words when we discovered that my ball had bounded through the fairway and off a cliff. Thoroughly embarrassed, Gary whipped out his cell phone and called Ben Crenshaw, telling the two-time Masters champ, “You need to take a second look at the thirteenth hole. A big hitter just drove one straight up the fairway and over the edge.”

Stephanie Wie in bunker at Kapalua

Yes, it's Wei. (Note treetops behind Garrity bunker.)

The rest, as they say, is history. Crenshaw installed a big bunker to contain bombers like Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson … a bunker named for yours truly. “We’re going to install a plaque there someday,” Gary tells me every time I return to Kapalua to cover the Hyundai (formerly Mercedes) Tournament of Champions. He adds, “We’re still working on the wording.”

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