Today’s goal, break 80 at Black Mesa
The more I play Black Mesa the more I love it. This is a special golf course. I become more confident in my shots and where I want them to land or roll the more I play the course. I played probably the most solid nine holes of the year on the front today. I got up and down on #1 from a deep green side bunker. On #2, a short par-4, I used the contours to the right of the green to bounce my 100 yard approach shot to about three feet. But my putt didn’t drop as the speed was not as quick as I expected. That would be about the last bad putt I’d make for the whole day.
Above, the old squeeky windmill at Black Mesa. When the wind kicks up, the windmill plays a an eerie yet rhythmic tune. Normally I’d dislike a sound like this, but this tune almost hypnotizes me. How many millions of times has that wheel spun around? I need to find out if there’s been a name given to this windmill. If there hasn’t, I’m going to come up with an appropriate one….
On with the story…
When I got to the mega cool #4 hole I was still even par. #4 is the famous “dome” hole, where a cool sand dome guards the green left. I didn’t trust my yardage. It dictated a six iron. I hit five. Good choice. It ended up about eight feet below the pin. I drained the putt to reach -1. I played solid golf the rest of the front nine. My new and improving short game and some great putting helped me turn to the back nine at even par. I shot even on the front at Black Mesa. That is good. Could I hold it together for the difficult back nine?
I have shaky confidence in some holes which have kicked my butt every time I’ve played them, like the par-5 13th. Today I was cruising along playing well and 13 humbled me once again. I knew I couldn’t miss the green right or I’d have an impossible up and down from a very deep bunker. I missed right, 7. Ouch. I’m realizing how demanding this course is. You really can’t miss a single shot in the wrong place your you’ll have to make some incredible shots to save par. Usually errant shots will result in an “other” score. My two severely errant swings did result in double bogeys on the back.
Yesterday I melted down on the 15th, a beauty of a par three. I clanked my tee shot into the water and scored a double. I was wanting redemption today. With my good pal Eddie Peck, principal guy here at Black Mesa watching, I pulled a six iron left. The shot bounced off the contours left of the green and ran down to about five feet. I laughed and looked at Eddie and said, “I meant to do that.” Eddie laughed.
Eddie took off to watch the other groups so he didn’t see the putt, which I drained. The first thing he asked me upon the conclusion of my round was if I made that putt. I proudly told him that yes I’d drained the putt, and that despite having my golf ship taking on heavy water on the back nine, I paddled home with a 78. To me a 78 on this course is like shooting a 73 somewhere else.
Puye Cliff Dwellings
Following the round we visited the Puye cliff Pueblo Indian ruins, about 30 minutes from Black Mesa Golf Club. The Pueblo Indians had built an incredible set of dwellings on top of, and on the SIDE of, a cliff. I’ll post more about this fascinating part of the trip later, but here’s an image of our tour guide (right) telling us about the dwellings for now.
I’m too tired to continue writing, though I’d love to share the rest of this great day…
Phil Mickelson's wife Amy diagnosed with breast cancer. Phil's schedule cancelled indefinitely.