500 Club

The 500 Club, Phoenix. Brian Whitcomb, 1989.

The primary appeal this course uses to market itself is “the only house you’ll see is the clubhouse,” and while there are plenty of homes visible across the road, it is nice to play a round in Arizona where a stray shot won’t lead to broken windows. The owners tinker with this course quite a bit—the fourth has been converted to an island green, the 12th a peninsula, and the hazard on the 18th has changed several times just in the past decade. None of this tinkering has necessarily made the course any better, but kudos to them for trying I guess.

The #3 green at 500 Club is set naturally against the hillside

The front nine plays mostly over flat land but my favorite hole on the course is the third, which is the exception, a short par 4 that curves left around the base of a mountain with its green banked into the base.

The back nine offers more elevation change, with almost every hole interacting with a large hill. The 10th green is perched on the edge of the hill, then the 11th plays blindly straight up to the top. The 12th plays back down off the hill and most of the rest of the back nine plays back and forth toward and then away from the hill. It is somewhat repetitive and the holes going away from the hill tend to be pretty forgettable, but the holes playing back toward it generally at least have nice green sites (13, 15, 17).

#11 is so steeply uphill that they give you the day’s hole location via this quirky marker by the tee box. Note the tee signifying a back middle hole location.

The courses on reservation land are also free of homes, and generally better, but this one is closer to many parts of the Valley, and all in all this isn’t a bad place to play at the right price.

Arizona 6th Decile [2019]