Arizona Grand

Arizona Grand GC, Phoenix. Forrest Richardson, 1980.

Based on photos and some ideas about how the city has grown, I imagine when this course was built, it was alone in the desert.

There are still a few holes on the back that run up against the South Mountain Preserve and these are by far the best of the bunch because so many of the rest are choked by housing. Several holes are dominated by no feature so much as the giant nets erected by homeowners to keep golf balls away. There’s also the dreaded cart ride through a cul de sac between holes.

This is another course that has done quite a bit of tinkering. I don’t know what the original configuration was, but when I first stayed at the resort, the 18th was a downhill par 4 finishing at an island green near the resort pool. A few years later, that hole had become the first—you now tee off from the island that was once the green and play blindly up and over a hill away from the resort.

Credit: Golf Pass

The four or five holes here by the resort play mostly out in the open, if awkwardly around hills and artificial ponds.

Then you come to the housing section of the course, holes 6-11, where out of bounds becomes the dominant theme.

The final movement of the course is the best as you turn toward the desert at the 12th, a nice par 3 playing over a small wash, and most of the holes the rest of the way have a desert feel. But even still even these are oddly cramped, more often awkward than sporty. And now that you finish with a drop shot par 3 for #18 you end the round with a lengthy and confusing cart ride, across several roads, past the first hole (which, remember, used to be the finisher), before you’re really, finally done.

Arizona 9th Decile [2019]

Credit: Golf Pass