Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Course architect: William F. “Billy” Bell
Tee — Yardage | Rating / Slope:
Black — 7,333 | 75.0 / 130
Blue — 6,771 | 72.0 / 125
White — 6,382 | 70.0 / 122
Green — 5,777 | 72.7 / 124
Gold — 5,404 | 70.5 / 121
Saturday morning green fee: $$$ [$100-$149]
Caddie service: No
Walker friendly: Yes
Fairways: Riviera Bermuda (perennial rye overseed in winter)
Greens: MiniVerde Bermuda (poa trivialis overseed in winter)
Starter: Papago Golf Course has long been the top municipal course in Phoenix and all of Arizona. Designed by Billy Bell, who did both courses at Torrey Pines, Papago underwent a complete facelift in 2008 and was restored to sparkling condition and respected stature in the Valley. Starting in 2018, the Arizona State men’s and women’s golf teams call Papago home with a sparkling new practice and training facility just adjacent to the driving range.
Play because ...: First, the views are spectacular. The Papago Buttes are a stunning backdrop to the driving range and can be seen from all over the course. The layout itself is a good, honest course. It’s straightforward, with no tricks; everything is in front of you. With five sets of tees, you can pick your poison. You have to play well to shoot a good score, but you won’t leave feeling beaten up, no matter what you shoot.
Takeaway: Papago’s brand-new clubhouse opened in November and includes Lou’s Bar & Grill, whose food rivals some of the better restaurants in town. Lou’s isn’t just a golf course snack bar; it’s open for three top-drawer meals a day. It’s no wonder that years ago, Phoenix’s top players congregated at Papago. And now that it’s pristine, the city’s best golfers are back. One of the best things about Papago is that it’s 8 miles from Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport, which makes it a good spot for the beginning of a golf trip or one last round on getaway day.
THE RATINGS [1 to 10 scale; 10 being the highest]
Food | Beverage: 9.5
Pro shop: 9.5
Pace of play: 8.5
THE COURSE | Scorecard
Best par 3: No. 17 [243 | 232 | 214 | 140 | 140]
From the back tee, the 17th is a formidable hole by virtue of its sheer length. But even at 214 yards from the white tee, the longest par-3 on the course is a tough par. Four yawning bunkers — one on the left and three that spread out across the back of the green — guard hole locations in those parts of the putting surface. The open space is in the front right, which gives you access to any hole location.
Best par 4: No. 3 [467 | 438 | 424 | 314 | 314]
The fairway at the third has humps and rolls, and getting a flat lie can be difficult. Three menacing bunkers guard the front of the green, which means that to reach the surface, it’s all carry. But that’s not the only problem. The green has ridges that divide it into three distinct sections, making long putts a chore.
Best par 5: No. 1 [561 | 544 | 530 | 530 | 427]
Right out of the gate, the first is not the most difficult par but it’s the most problematic to reach in two. Should you decide to take on the first hole, the second shot is uphill and there is a pond that guards the right of the green. Even if you lay up, the water is still in play for an errant shot. It’s best to lay up down the left where there is plenty of room and wedge it in for a gentler start to the round.