With summer fast approaching in Arizona, golfers can get some relief from the heat just a short drive away, going up in elevation to find some cooler temps for their rounds.
Two very different courses, Pinetop Lakes in Pinetop and Apache Stronghold outside of Globe, offer golf among the pines or in the high desert to get a break from the triple digits in the Valley and Tucson.
Pinetop Lakes Golf and CC
Voted the top executive course in the state by the Arizona Republic in the early 2000’s, the par 63, 4,500 yard course features two par-5s, five par-4s and a couple of challenging par-3s that stretch to 200 yards.
“Because of the par-4s and par-5s – you don’t really feel like you’re on an executive course,” head golf professional Brian Zongker said. “It really challenges every bit of your game.”
On the south end of town, the tall Ponderosa Pines of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest line the fairways, making hitting it straight paramount to good scoring.
“With the pines and out-of bounds on most holes, you can’t really pound it out there,” Zongker said. “You have to play for position.”
The 320-yard par-4 sixth is typically the toughest hole on the course, a narrow dogleg right with a postage stamp green. Players may be tempted to hit driver, but an iron off the tee is likely the play.
The signature par-3 11th can stretch to 200 yards, with a very small target and water to the left, making bogey not unusual for many players.
Both nines conclude with risk-reward par-5s. Hit driver to try and reach them in two at your own peril, the pines catching any errant tee shots.
The course is semi-private with around 200 members, but tee times are available to the public most days. Pinetop Lakes is about a three-hour drive from Phoenix and four hours from Tucson, with temps typically in the 80s when it’s 110 in the Valley.
Apache Stronghold GC
Get in some high desert golf at Apache Stronghold Golf Club, just outside of Globe, only about an hour-and-a-half drive from Phoenix or Tucson.
At 3,600 feet, it’s about a 10 degree temperature difference during the height of summer.
The Tom Doak design has received many accolades; including being ranked the 37th Top Casino Course in the Country – and No. 16 in the state Top Courses to Play by Golfweek magazine.
“It’s very scenic, with no homes around the course at all,” said Stephen Ravenkamp, director of golf at the resort. “There are lots of elevation changes and natural routing through the canyons, so very little dirt was moved when the course was built.”
“People love the layout – and the quiet and serenity of the desert environment.”
There is no water on the course, but golfers will deal with carries over washes, and large undulating bent grass greens to test their games. Five sets of tees will challenge players of all skill levels.
With several unique holes there is no true signature hole on the course, Ravenkamp said. But the par-3 eighth, over a wash to a terraced green with three levels; the par-5 seventh with a split fairway; and the drivable par-4 15th are some of the highlights of the design.
GPS on the carts give players the layout, yardage and landing areas on each hole, and the course sits adjacent to the Apache Gold Casino, with an RV Park, convenience store and a covered rodeo pavilion hosting concerts and events throughout the year.
The lower elevation means the course is open all year long and it honors the PGA Southwest Section Pass, giving players 50 percent off their green fees.
For tee times and more information, call Pinetop Lakes at 928-369-4531, or Apache Stronghold at 928-475-7667.