Mesa golf course hosts handful of high-profile competitive events each year
Back in the ‘90s, Longbow Golf Club underwent a renovation that transformed a tired track into one of the best golf experiences in the East Valley of the Sun. Since then, waves of sun-seeking winter visitors along with competitive players have flocked to Longbow. Along the way, they established a rich tradition of excellence that shows no sign of letting up.
With a list of past champions that reads more like a who’s who of competitive golf, the Winn Grips Heather Farr Classic Hosted by Longbow Golf Club celebrates 17 years of elite junior golf competition.
Conducted by the AJGA, it’s a 54-hole competition featuring a strong field of 82 boys and 40 girls from more than a 19 different states and a half-dozen countries. Hunter Mahan won it in ’99. Chandler’s Richard Lee took top honors in 2007. Beau Hossler, 2012 champion, finished T29 in the U.S. Open that same year and even held the lead for a time.
On the girl’s side, Paula Creamer is the only player to win twice with back-to-back victories in ’03 and ’04. Alison Lee took home the trophy in 2010. Scottsdale’s Lindsey Weaver followed her amazing 59 two months earlier with a victory in 2012. And let’s not forget local Gilbert phenom, Hannah O’Sullivan, who in 2015 captured both a LPGA Symetra Tour title at Longbow before doing the same a couple months later at the Winn Grips Heather Farr Classic.
“It’s been a joy to watch the Winn Grips Heather Farr Classic bloom into what it is today,” said Jay Larscheid, general manager of Longbow Golf Club. “The AJGA, along with a long list of sponsors, have come together to create something very special which honors the type of talent and grace that set Heather Farr apart as a person and player.”
Longbow is also home to the LPGA’s Symetra Tour. In 2013, former Sun Devil, Jaclyn Sweeney, overcame chilly temperatures to take home the $15,000 check at the inaugural Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club. She bested Alena Sharpe by two strokes. The next year, it was Sharp’s turn to win by two strokes with a 12-under-par performance. Then, as mentioned earlier, 16-year-old Hannah O’Sullivan ran away from the field with a tournament-record, 15-under-par victory. She became the youngest winner in Symetra Tour history, and joined Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson as the only players to win before their 17th birthday.
Longbow is also home to collegiate golf. Since 2012, the Notre Dame Women’s Golf Team has hosted 15 other teams in March when most schools struggle to find a green patch of grass. It has hosted the NCAA Division II Women’s Golf Championship and the WAC Women’s Golf Championship. Throw in a few others such as the Golfweek Junior Series National Qualifying and U.S. Amateur qualifying, and it’s easy to see why Longbow has earned the tournament-tested moniker.
Over the years, Longbow has established itself as a place where competitive golfers slug it out for top honors. From the wee ones beginning their journey in the game for a lifetime at The First Tee of Phoenix site to professionals playing for cash, the Ken Kavanagh-designed golf course at Longbow provides a stern test for the competitor along with plenty of playability for the rest of us hacks.
Contributing Writer: Jeff Locke