Chaparral Pines Golf Club

ADDRESS: 504 N. Club Drive
Payson, AZ 85541
TYPE: Private
HOLES: 18
PHONE: 928-472-1430
WEBSITE: www.chaparralpines.com

Chaparral Pines - Green Complex Hole No. 7

The Buzz: It was created, of course, as a golf club, but many visitors to this gem in Arizona’s high country prefer to view it as the endless photo op. They stand on a tee and wonder how a golf hole could be more beautiful, then get the answer when they reach the next one. Chaparral Pines is that stunning. Created by former design partners David Graham and Gary Panks, it’s set among the largest stand of Ponderosa Pine in the United States and is back-dropped by the sprawling Tonto National Forest and the wondrous Mogollon Rim and Granite Dells. Various magazines have rated it among the best private clubs in the country.

Panks and Graham took full advantage of the surroundings, adding some intrinsic man-made lakes, streams and washes, while preserving rock outcroppings and other natural landmarks. Chaparral Pines serves as an escape from the blistering heat for residents of the Phoenix and Tucson areas during summer months but offers year-round play. The club experienced lengthy financial troubles, which resulted in developers selling it to Buffalo Golf LLC in November, 2010. The new ownership group includes long-time member Steve Loy, the CEO of Gaylord Sports Management, whose primary client is Phil Mickelson. OB Sports, whose portfolio includes 40 courses, took over operation of the facility when the sale was completed. It remains a private club, but in 2011 began offering memberships to non-residents for the first time. Built in 1997, it has five sets of tees ranging from 5,197 to 7,019 yards, with a rating of 73.4 and slope of 142 from the back tees.

Among the many memorable holes is the par-5 seventh, the No. 1 handicap at 624 yards called “Canyon Creek,” which zigzags downhill like an elk descending from the Mogollon Rim, and those impressive, antlered creatures are commonly seen around this course. Ideally, you need to play three different shots to set up a birdie attempt – a fade off the tee, a draw on the second shot and a straight approach with a wedge or short iron. A winding creek protects the front of the green, so if there’s any question about club selection, pick the longer of the two.

Chaparral Pines - Tee Box at No. 3

Among the many scenic holes, the two most impressive might be the third and 12th, a pair of excellent par 4s. No. 3, called “Diamond Point,” is a great risk-reward hole with gorgeous views of pine forests and mountain peaks (including Diamond Peak) and surrounding wilderness. The 12th, called “Rim View,” offers one of the most dramatic tee shots in the state with a 150-foot drop to the fairway. The 475-yard hole also has a risk-reward element due to a collection area among pine trees around the green waiting for errant approach shots. Along with its impressive golf course, Chaparral Pines offers members myriad activities, including swimming, tennis and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Dining and clubhouse amenities also are first rate. The tough part, if you’re not a member, is landing an invitation to play, and groveling in this case is well worth the effort.

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