Papago GC, Phoenix. William F. Bell (1963) with subsequent revisions by Arthur Jack Snyder (1977) and Billy Fuller (2008).
This is a really nice spot in the city to play golf, on the gentle slope of a long hillside with good views and as much of an isolated feeling as you can hope to have on a course that’s five minutes from the airport in the middle of the city. It’s a fine course and I can’t think of a bad hole, but when I say this is a clasic 60s-style golf course I mean that for both good and ill.
Fuller did a nice job of updating the course but it still has the classic muni bones, just spruced up. Simple holes, plain bunkering. But his work on the course at the end of the last decade was much better than everything else they did, which included removing the wonderfully classic clubhouse. A new one didn’t get built for ten years.
The city is now letting ASU manage the course and it will be home to the school’s golf team now that Karsten has closed. Papago should have the length to keep the college players interested—three of the course’s one shot holes are over 230 yards from the back tees, and none of those are playing downhill. Unfortunately, the tee placement on those holes is off. If you signed up for a 7,300 yard course, then you can manage a 240-yard par 3. But those same holes play at or over 200 yards even from the 6,300 yard tees, which is a lot to ask of someone playing from the white markers.
But most of the other holes are pretty good. The 2nd is a nice dogleg left that plays uphill toward the mountain and a green that falls away on three sides. The 12th is a good short par 4 skirting a ridge. With a big drive or the wind at your back it could even be reachable, but anything left that doesn’t catch a fairway bunker will go way down the hill to big trouble. But the layup from the tee is itself exacting and the green is angled to favor shots from the left side close to the trouble.
Arizona 4th Decile