The Buzz: Located at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountain Range, this course opened in 1997 as a centerpiece of the Saddlebrooke active adult community managed by Robson Communities. It was designed by Gary Panks, who has established himself as one of Arizona’s most prominent architects, with about 30 courses around the state.
At elevation of 3,200 feet, it takes advantage of picturesque mountain views and rugged natural terrain and serves as roaming ground for an abundance of desert wildlife. There are five sets of tees ranging from 4,617 to 6,728 yards, with a rating of 71.4 and slope of 125 from the back tees.
Course characteristics include generous landing areas, mesquite-laden foothills, subtle mounding and natural hazards. Among the memorable holes is the par-5 11th, a dogleg right at 575 yards from the tips. Two bunkers lurk on the left side of the fairway and the right features a pond where cattle used to drink but now serves as a watering hole for javelina, deer and other wildlife. Three bunkers guard the front of a wide green.
Among the best par-4 holes is the 14th, a dogleg right that plays at 400 yards. The temptation to cut the corner is strong, but a grove of mesquite trees stretches along the right side and awaits shots that are not struck long and high enough to clear. A gently contoured green sets between a bunker and a wash.
No. 17 is a delightful par 3 at 207 yards with an elevated tee, which provides some of the most stunning views on the course but demands an accurate downhill shot and plays into a prevailing wind with a contoured green that sets in a natural bowl.
For many golfers, the favorite hole, and perhaps the most demanding, is No. 2, a 428-yard par, where a plate on the tee warns that a mesquite-filled wash crosses the fairway 275 yards away. That fairway narrows as it goes, leaving an uphill shot of about 175 yards to a generous green protected by more mesquites and bunkers.
After the round, golfers relax in the Mesquite Grill, which provides casual dining, southwestern ambiance and nice views overlooking the practice green. This is a semi-private club that is open to the public, but residents receive preferred rates and tee times, and several membership options are available.
Saddlebrooke residents also enjoy a fitness center, tennis courts, swimming pool, softball field and a stadium-style, 478-seat performing arts center.