to the Management of The Links at Continental Ranch - 10/14/2002
Parvenus and Putting Pigs in
and I, who admittedly
make up something of a motley twosome when it comes to the business
of golf but are far from the worst you'll see out there, attempted
to broaden the scope of our weekly game yesterday and were greatly
dissatisfied with the outing. I had hoped to be over the keyboard
this morning writing a glowing review of The Links at Continental
Ranch - a course north of Tucson that, according to the
e-brochure I happened upon, features "wide,
undulating fairways which are accentuated by tall stands of native
grasses, which not only give the golf course the authentic Scottish
look and feel, but also help make par an achievable score."
However, since I wasted the best
part of the golfing day and never got to blade one over their lush
greens, I am unable to provide that service and am instead forced to
whine like a five handicap litigator about shoddy treatment,
misrepresentation, and dress codes. I'll reveal the details of the
venture here so that others of similar ilk might be spared the
misunderstanding and frustrations that await them should they choose
to visit the Links.
It all started when Piolline and I acted against our better
judgment and attempted to take a break from Tucson's excellent
public courses by jumping on the freeway and heading just north of
the sewage treatment plant to try this course that the brochure said "has
been designed to look, feel, and play like true links courses of
Scotland." (Right off the bat I'll say that although
we've never teed off at St. Andrews or Royal Troon, we have to
seriously doubt that the experience includes belching trucks and
blowing dust from an adjacent major highway and the wafting scents
of human waste being treated upwind)
I had awoken early in the a.m. on
that fine fall day and tended to my ablutions while waiting for Piolline
to figure out which of his houses he was waking up in and
navigate his way over to retrieve me as we had agreed. Instead of
pacing in the driveway as I sometimes am wont to do I decided to
jump online and, since it is currently the season for overseeding,
check what golfing options were and weren't available. I was
innocently reading about which courses had just been cut back and which
were on the mend when the fate of an errant click led me to The Links
website. Once there I was promised that they "offer golfers a high quality,
challenging golf experience at an affordable rate."
That sounded okay to me but since
"affordable rate" can be something of a relative term, I
decided to investigate a little further. Eventually, I ended up looking at the following screen:
Thank you for
We look forward to seeing you.
You are confirmed
for the following tee times
Course: Links at
Continental Ranch Tee Time: 10/13/2002 08:07 AM
# Golfers: 2
Reservation Fees: $0.00
Total Greens Fees - Links Pass Online
Special - $50.00
Cancel By Time: 10/12/2002 08:07 AM
Fee Policies: -- Greens fees are due at time of play.
What the above information seemed
to be indicating was that Piolline and I could go for a short
drive in the country, take in some fresh scenery, and then hack up a
new course for exactly the same price we usually pay to duff it at
the old standbys. As the morning wore on and I eventually ended up
having to go fetch Piolline myself and extract him from the
clutches of a gaping green whale, I found that I was already half
way across town and decided we might as well give The Links a try.
The scenery, as it turned out, was
some of the Southwest's worst and the drive fraught with
construction zones and pot holes but we eventually snaked
around the A.M/P.M and gravel company to find our way up to the
course. While walking in
from the mostly empty parking lot, we noticed that the actual Links
themselves appeared verdant and well watered. Piolline seemed
impressed at the oasis-like quality of the plot commenting that only a few
years ago, the acreage was occupied by an expanse of craggy,
sun-baked dirt, skirted by the aforementioned sewage center, a strip
mine or quarry of some sort, and Highway-One-Oh heading off to Shaky
Town. I headed to the Pro Shop to settle the deal leaving Piolline unattended on the putting green.
"That'll be 105.94"
announced the rosy cheeked attendant manning the register once I had
given him my name.
Since I hadn't thought I would be
needing it when I left the house, I had failed to print out the above
reservation information and now had to assume that I had misread it
somehow and the fifty dollar price was per player. Looking at my
watch and realizing that it was, by now, too late to get on any of the
courses back in town, I grudgingly handed over a still smoldering
from Vegas credit card while muttering that I thought it had said
fifty dollars for two golfers when I got the tee time.
"Nope" said the GQ
staffer, "that would only be for members. Oh and Sir, it's cart
path only today."
Cart path only? Why even bother to
ride if you have to constantly park 100's of yards from your ball?
"I'm a member on the McGilroy
account," a prune faced woman in plaid paisley shorts was
announcing from behind me, "and I'll be playing with a guest, a
Mrs. Eunice Cobb. We are going to play golf at eight o'clock this
Ah heh. Just in front of us. An
inauspicious beginning indeed.
I retrieved Piolline from the
putting area and he pronounced the greens so lush and slow that they
would effectively throw our games off for good when we returned to
the city. Since my game isn't anything to write home about anyway
and my putting in particular had been unimpressive of late, I wasn't
all that worried about that aspect of the day but did notice for the
first time that Piolline had eschewed his traditional and lucky
Hawaiian shirt for a new looking, long-sleeved, blue number, with
some sort of zig zaggy Charlie Brown design across the front.
"New shirt?" I inquired
as we climbed aboard the cart and headed for the first tee.
"Why yes," beamed Piolline, appreciating that I had noticed. "It's as cottony as it
"I can see that." I said.
"Excuse me sir," a peach
fuzzy youth in Dockers held up a traffic cop like hand and waved us
to the side of the path. "Could you pull over for a second? Is
that the only shirt you have with you this morning?"
"Are you saying you want me to pull off of
the cart path?" I said. "I'm not falling for that
"That's right. Off the path.
Now sir would you, by chance, have
another shirt with you?"
I thought he was talking to me at
first as I still wore the same over shirt with big breast pocket for
cigars and chips that I'd returned from Vegas in the night before
and which, as I looked down to notice now, seemed to be sporting the
remnants of a sloshed B-52 or something on the shoulder. The peach
however was eyeing Piolline.
"Yes it is and I'm pleased
that you like it. Everybody seems to be commenting..."
"It has no collar," spake
"That's what I like about it
as well," said Piolline. "You see it's in the Henley
style which provides for me the comfort in a finely made garment to
which I'm accustomed without sacrificing fashion or...."
"I'm afraid I can't let you on
the course with no collar," blurted the youngster with all the
confidence of his ilk. "If you had a shirt like his, well then you'd be
fine." We all looked at my shirt together in wonderment at its
preferable status. "It's a Pro Shop decision," the youth said
grabbing the rail of our cart as if we might try to make a break for
it. "You better go in and talk to them."
"I'm sure we can work
something out," reasoned Piolline as we re-parked the cart and
headed in to negotiate sartorial approval. He had been eyeing my shirt on the
short ride to the club house and staring in particular at the collar which, he
now pointed out, featured some lingering horseradish au jus mixture and what
appeared to be mashed in cigar ash. "The idea of the rule
obviously is not to keep a guy like me, wearing a new fashionable
shirt, from playing, while a guy like
you is given clearance but rather to keep the riff raff and their tank tops
from ruining the sights and sounds.... and smells of the finer
courses. What is that foul stench by the way?"
"I told you, I just got back
"No, it smells like fertilizer
and ammonia or something."
"I think that's exactly what
it is," I said, remembering the sobering trip I had once taken
with an environmental biology class to the sewage plant down the
"Well, at least the greens are
lush and the price is right."
"Uh not exactly."
may have had a bit of an
edge to him when he darkened the Pro Shop doors for the first time
after having learned that he was suddenly in the high rent district
and was being told is so many words that he didn't belong but I didn't notice it
particularly in his demeanor. He approached the desk casually,
juggling the three scuffed balls he still had with him from his time
on the putting green.
"We can't allow you to play in
those clothes," I heard the clerk say. "But what I can do
is offer you fifty percent off on one of our golf shirts." He
indicated a rack that hung with what appeared to be a collection of
referee jerseys intermixed with some painfully bright, sherbet
colored, collared tunics so hideous to behold that I had to look
twice at his freshly scrubbed face to see if he was serious. I
ambled over to the rack and read a sticker that said 80 dollars. I
gave Piolline the surreptitious thumbs down.
"Um, no thanks on the new
camisa," said Piolline leaning towards the cashier as if he
had something to ask him in confidence. "Say big fella, doesn't
your site on the Internet say 25 dollars a piece? I don't think I
want to pay fifty some dollars for a round until I check out how my
dogs like walking these moors."
"There can't be any dogs on
the course," said the cashier
A truck horn sounded in the
distance. With that traffic noise and stench it seems like the
perfect place for them, I thought
"And that price only applies for
members," begrudged the staffer.
"And how does one become a
"It's twenty five
"Exclusive," remarked Piolline.
"Are you thinking of
joining?" The clerk looked as if mortification was fighting its
way up from under his own collar to show itself on his face.
It was too perfect. How long does
one walk around with their favorite movie lines in their head,
hoping beyond hope that they'll get a chance to use them one day?
The opportunity had finally come and neither of us could pull the
trigger although we looked at each other and thought in silent
unison - "Join? I wouldn't join this Snobbatorium. This place
sucks! That's right sucks! The only reason I'm here is I'm thinking
of buying the place."
I can understand that you would
expect more of two Goliard editors but Piolline already owns enough
crappy, over watered land on busy streets around the area and I'm
not in the market either. We let the opportunity go by without
comment. Maybe we're getting old.
"Well how's about you credit my
buddy's Visa card the one oh five and we'll get back on that
freeway out there and just head on back down to the city." Piolline
offered pleasantly. "Looks like this morning is shot but
maybe we'll be able to salvage the day and get on somewhere this
afternoon. I think El Rio has memberships for a couple dollars. And
I'm pretty sure you get a hot dog."
"Membership does have its
privileges." I said.
After fifteen minutes of three pros
trying to figure the refund transaction on their register, I finally
had my voided voucher and stepped out into the rapidly brightening
morning behind Piolline to gather our accoutrements from the cart.
The red faced head pro, who I recognized from the website, came
charging out after us.
"Are you going to pay for
those logo balls?" he stammered.
"What?" We all looked at
the smudged and scuffed white orbs in Piolline's batting gloved paw.
"Are those Links logo balls? Were
you just going to walk off with them?"
I had noticed a perfect pyramid of
balls on the counter presumably adorned with the courses exclusive
insignia and could see it now through the window. It remained in
"Yes, you see what happened
was I brought these up here with me thinking I'd actually get a chance to play golf."
Piolline started, taking a step towards the buffoon who had just
ascertained that his dollar ninety nine cent Pinnacles had not been
purloined but perhaps one Noodle, a Top Flite and a Titalist Pro-V
were about to be bounced off his ruddy forehead. "But after
driving all the way up here and dicking around with you people and
your pompous, archaic rules for the last hour while the chances of getting on
another course fall by the wayside we......" The door slammed
in our faces as the pro retreated like some fat badger into his hole.
I took Piolline by his cottony
blue elbow and guided him the round about way to the car before
things got as ugly as some of the shirts on the sale rack.
We returned to town and played a
perfectly pleasant round at Dell Urich where we learned that after
eleven a.m. the price drops to fifteen dollars. I took 7.50 off
Piolline who was perhaps still shaken by his brush with the nouveau
riche. After collecting, I dropped him back off at his whale.
I had looked forward to playing the
Links. It's wide open spaces had always looked inviting when I
passed it on the Freeway heading out to the dump, or Phoenix or
somewhere and since my drives seem to have an uncanny
knack for finding the trunk of any nearby conifer or deciduous it
seemed to present the opportunity for a lower score since there are
no trees to be found anywhere on the course. On the other hand, any
grass you can see from I-10 tends to look enticing and trees provide
shade and make gentle whispering sounds. Besides, who gives a big
lake of sewage? It's only golf.