Summer golf in Arizona? Just thinking about it I almost burst into flames. Summer golf in the desert can be a test of survival and planning skills. Early tee times, bottles of water, globs of sunscreen, brimmed hats, and plenty of will power! Yes there are some advantages, rates are practically non-existent and having the course all to yourself is nice. But the best kept secret about Arizona golf is the ability to escape the surface of the sun
during those summer days and enjoy cool temps and perfect bent greens in the White Mountains. A popular getaway known more commonly for its winter skiing at Sunrise Mountain and the abundance of fishing and camping sites. But golf?
With over a half a dozen courses available there is a facility to accommodate just about any golfer’s budget and expectations. The epicenter of golf in the White Mountains is Show Low, AZ. A quaint town located 6,400 ft. above sea level with average summer high temps of 85 degrees and lows temps dipping into the mid 50’s. One legend claims the town was named after a marathon poker game with the winner taking a 100,000 acre ranch. Oh the good o’l western days…
If the town of Show Low was named after a poker game, then the Royal Flush of golf in the White Mountains is Torreon Golf Club. Located on over 1,400 acres, Torreon is every golfer’s paradise. Two championship courses designed by Robert Von Hagge, the architect that brought us the “Blue Monster” at Doral, together with his partners, delivered the mountain masterpiece that is Torreon. Cabin and Tower courses await the challenge. Both courses play through the pines equally but my favorite stretch of holes between the two was the 7th through 10th holes on the Cabin course. The 7th hole par 3 is situated on the highest point of the development with gorgeous panoramic views of the White Mountains. It’s a long par 3 that plays up-hill with a nasty little back-side bunker that can seize a ball hit with too much club! Next up is the dramatic downhill par 4, 8th hole. Don’t be too proud of your tee shot because you’ll still have a mid-to-long iron into a green that has a drop-off behind it that might as well be the Grand Canyon! Par 5, 10th hole brings some water into play on your approach shot and if the pin is tucked back right, good luck!
General Manager Joe Long wanted to make it clear though, “Torreon is not just about golf, it’s a community experience.” Mr. Long with owners, Desert Troon Management Group, has made it their mission to deliver a mountain golf course community that is truly unique. Almost as refreshing as the mountain air is the unpretentious and welcoming feeling you get upon arriving at Torreon. “All that stiffness can stay in Phoenix and Tucson,” said Long “Here at Torreon people can just relax and enjoy themselves.” Relax and enjoy you will. Between the popular heated outdoor pool and hot tub (get there early during the weekends to ensure a spot, it can fill up quickly!) numerous fishing holes, kids recreational center (with a pool table, pin-pong, full arcade, X-Box and Wii game stations), a two golf hole family friendly practice area, expansive equestrian center, as well as an inviting bar and dining area Torreon is set to deliver. Another unique quality of Torreon is the ability for certain memberships to be transferred to another party (up to 30 days) for a one-time nominal fee of around $50.
Rent a cabin/villa through Torreon (www.torreon.com), and all of Torreon’s amenities become yours and your families during your stay. Golf fees are included, you now only have to pay a cart fee! Third party rentals is another option but be careful. There are great places available on sites like vacation rental by owner (www.vrbo.com) but not all rentals include fully transferable memberships.
Across Highway 260 from Torreon is Bison Golf Club (www.bisongolf.net). Don’t expect Torreon but you’ll be pleased with the overall experience, especially for the price. Peak rate is less than $35! Recently redesigned in 2007 by ASU alum Billy Mayfair, Bison is a perfect track for the entire family. Although most of the holes are average in length, be prepared for the Par 5, 14th nicknamed “Thunderbeast”. Playing 625 yards, with some of the tallest pines on the course lining its fairway, this golf hole brings the full blunt of the Bison! “We are very proud of our Bent greens,” says Lloyd Harvey GM of Bison Golf Club. And they should be. The greens were in far better condition than what I was expecting. Known to locals as the 7/11 course (front 7, back 11), with the back 11 holes playing through the mountain pine trees.
Another great option in Show Low is the public course Silver Creek (www.silvercreekgolfclub.com), currently rated 4 stars by Golf Digest. Silver Creek tends to be the choice for most individuals that are unable to access the courses at Torreon.
Don’t let the summer heat take you down. Head to the cooler temps of the White Mountains and enjoy the best kept secret of summer golf in Arizona!