Club West Golf CourseBy Timothy R. O’Connor & Chris Fry • Apr 21st, 2011
Any classical music enthusiast will tell you that the finest symphonies begin humbly, building to a magnificent crescendo. The best golf courses are no different and unfortunately too many golf courses in Phoenix begin with a flash of brilliant views and landscapes but without very much substance to the actual golf holes. Luckily, Club West does just the opposite as it saves its greatest views and best golf holes for the end while slowly building and engaging the golfer from the very beginning.
From arrival onwards, golfers are treated to first class, attentive service at Club West Golf Club. The outside service personnel are warm and welcoming and provide new visitors to the course with keen insight on how to shoot a low score. Inside, the employees in the well-stocked pro shop work efficiently to get golfers prepared to play and enjoy themselves. Club West’s grill area is a real treat with rich wooden furniture, a dance floor, and a large well-stocked bar. There is also a beautiful outdoor patio area overlooking the 18th green and a large pond, Club West’s only water hazard.
Club West’s practice facilities are quite satisfactory, the only exception being the driving range. Though the teeing area is large and features well-manicured natural grass, the range itself is more gravel pit than fairway, making it difficult for golfers to judge their distance or spin. An amply sized and exceptionally maintained practice green sits below the first tee for golfers awaiting their tee times.
The course itself features several sets of tees, but even the back tees appear deceptively short on the scorecard. Measuring just over 7,000 yards, the back tees instead rely on tricky angles, forcing brave golfers to work the ball and shape shots to fit the hole rather than bomb it down the middle. No hidden washes or bunkers await well struck shots at Club West; the course plays quite fair and instead invites players to play more risk-reward type of golf to take on trouble. While one can play the course well by hitting the ball down the middle, several holes like numbers 1 and 12 in particular feature greens accessible by brave, corner-cutting shots.
As stated, the outward nine begins almost sublimely: a relatively short par 4 with an inviting left to right dogleg, then a very routine and straightforward par 3. It is not until the par 5 third hole where golfers are treated to an elevated tee position and a stunning view of Phoenix’s venerable South Mountain. The hole invites golfers to “grip it and rip it” off the tee but then presents options for the second shot as the green, though accessible, is well guarded by a small waste area to the front right. From there, almost every hole on the front nine plays directly towards South Mountain; no cris-crossed holes or back and forth golf at Club West!
The second par 5 on the front nine, number 8, is a sure three shot hole offering a fair challenge to golfers of any skill level. Because of a large wash area separating the fairway from the green, golfers can only lay up so far for their approach shot. The postage stamp, undulating green requires an accurate and controlled wedge shot. Like every other green at Club West, number 8 features several flat spots amongst undulating peaks and valleys, enabling the greens keepers to select some very challenging pin positions.
After a brief stop at the beautiful and unique lakeside grill area at the turn, golfers begin the truly majestic inward nine at the drivable 310 yard 10th hole. After the straightforward birdie opportunity at 10, golfers are faced with the most deceptive tee shot at Club West on number 11. Despite our playing partners informing us that there is much more room on the left than can be seen from the tee, we both tried to hit drives directly towards the green then watched them drift into the difficult hardpan area on the right. Immediately after driving away from the tee box, the aforementioned space on the left is visible and the true danger of a straight tee shot becomes apparent. Trust us, aim far left on this tee box, your score will thank you!
The difficult par 4 13th stands out as an example of wonderful views and challenging shot selection. From the deceptively high back tee, where a good drive is needed just to clear the forward tees on a windy day, the golfer faces 465 yards to the green. Even for those long hitters lucky enough to have a mid iron in hand from the fairway, the green is a challenge to hit with bunkers front and back, little room to miss right, and absolutely no room to miss left. A difficult, but satisfying hole where bogey is a great score.
The ‘Home Stretch’ sends you back to the clubhouse with a good taste left in your mouth. The two par 3’s, holes 15 and 17, feature jaw-dropping views from tee boxes over 100 feet above the greens. Looking back on the, 17th hole we remember how long our tee shots stayed in the air, dropping over 100 feet from the elevated tee to one of the two greens. That’s right, there are two greens on this particular hole hence its name the ‘double green’ hole. The ability to change the green location just adds to the versatility and uniqueness of this great Arizona golf course.
The 18th hole curves around a slight dogleg left to right leading to a straight shot to an extremely intimidating green. The green is surrounded to the left by bunkers, then the right by the water! It is all worth it when you sink your last putt of the day, because across the pond lies the restaurant and bar. Boasting great views throughout, none is more beautiful than the sunset you can watch as you relax on the patio of the Lakeside Grille.
After choosing Arizona for your golf vacation, you are going to expect some of the greatest desert courses in the world. Sometimes, though, the problem that these courses can become repetitive arises, particularly in more of the traditional tourist locations like north Scottsdale. Fortunately, just on the other side of South Mountain lies this somewhat hidden and very affordable gem. Club West ranks among the top of our choices as a fair but challenging course, but most of all it provides magisterial views and distinctive golf amongst the uniformity you may run into when planning your trip to Arizona.
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