Mesa Country Club – Arizona Golf Course Reviews
In its early days, Mesa Country Club didn’t have a lot of wealthy members. But thanks to the founding group’s vision and perseverance, the club now sports a rich history and stands as one of the most popular private country clubs in the Phoenix-metro area.
And following the renovation which took place during the summer months of 2013, the club that dates back to 1948 is better than ever. The golf course, clubhouse and country club amenities all received attention.
Essentially, careful inspection reveals that 12 of the 18 golf course offerings have been modestly enhanced, although all 18 holes were touched in one way or another – but only “soft hands” would do here.
Mesa Country Club’s golf course was designed by the father-son team of William Park “Billy” Bell and William Francis Bell, still considered “California’s first family” of golf course architecture.
Commissioned by the members in 1947, Bell returned with both a 9-hole and an 18-hole layout. The members chose the 18-hole design and immediately acquired an additional 13 acres of property the layout required,
Mesa Country Club embodies the grand golf course style of the mid-1940’s and remains one of the most envied and prominent classic layouts still available to players in the Phoenix area today.
Dick Turner, one of the club’s former head pros, also did some tweaking to the course in 1974, mainly to add length, but all the enhancements maintain the original Bell family trademarks: tight, tree-lined fairways, classic doglegs, smallish greens by modern standards and intimate, elevated tees.
But executing that plan can be a challenge due to Bell’s traditional strategic design. The course routinely tests the best as the former host of events like the Arizona Open, Arizona Amateur and Southwest Section of the PGA Championship.
A narrow canal winds through the property, coming into play on five holes, and several lakes and ponds bring water into play on three more. The first seven holes, plus Nos. 14 and 15, lie on the top level of a mesa for which the city is named. The other half are located on acreage that members refer to as the “Lower 40.”
A different site, which is now home to Falcon Field Airport, was considered by the founding members, but they settled on the current location in the heart of Mesa.
Those founders, who included Dwight Patterson (known as the “Father of the Cactus League” for Arizona baseball spring training), struggled to maintain the club’s finances in its early years and, legend holds, did so with an assist from some slot machines, which were popular private entertainment during those years.
Today, they’re very public entertainment in Arizona as several Native American nation casino – hotel – golf resorts are scattered all across the state.
Mesa Country Club offers six sets of tees stretching to 6,870 yards, with a rating of 72.5 and slope of 131 from the tips. The Bells created several excellent holes, including a three-hole stretch starting at No. 5, a 520-yard par-5 that plays downhill over the canal to an elevated green.
The sixth is a 419-yard uphill par-4 with a slight dogleg left, the canal resides 220 yards out from the tee and fairway bunkers threaten on the right, with a smallish green that slopes sharply from back to front; tough par here.
Capping the stretch is the seventh, one of the best par 3’s in town. The 198-yarder plays downhill, over the canal lying in wait just in front of the green, to a putting surface surrounded by mature eucalyptus trees and four large bunkers. Miss the green here, and you’ll probably find a double on your card.
Highlights on the back-9 include No. 16, another downhill par 3 of 154 yards with deep bunkers surrounding the green, and the two par 5’s – 13 and 18. At 504 and 495 yards, respectively, they appear as birdie opportunities on the card, but both play much longer to uphill green complexes, where a lot of birdies remain just that – opportunities.
Members here also enjoy swimming, tennis, fitness and fine dining facilities. A variety of memberships, for golfers and non-golfers, are available and the price is right.