Northern Arizona Show Low

Bison Golf Club

The Buzz: As a college star at Arizona State, a U.S. Public Links champion and multiple winner on the PGA Tour, Billy Mayfair has excelled at the highest levels of golf, but takes a practical approach to what the game represents. “The golf experience,” Mayfair says, “is fun, fair and provides an enjoyable experience to players of all levels and abilities.” That’s what he had in mind when he tackled Bison, transforming the course originally designed by Jack Snyder that opened in 1960 as Show Low Country Club.

Bison Golf Club in Show Low, Arizona Billy Mayfair Makeover
Bison Golf Club in Show Low, AZ

Bison Homes purchased the property in 2005, along with 360 adjoining acres of heavily wooded, undeveloped land. Some new holes were created and a driving range was built in the new acreage, while the existing holes were redesigned. Luxurious cabin homes were artfully built within the pine trees along the fairways of the new holes and the overall master-planned community, Bison Crossing, opened in 2007 along with the rechristened golf facility. The recession has slowed development plans but it has a good start on facilities that call for 200 single-family homes, 84 duplex homes and a common area that features retail shops, condominiums, a hotel and an activity center. Situated high in the majestic White Mountains, the semi-private course offers stunning views with holes meandering through tall pines and across a spacious meadow.

Mayfair’s first design effort in Arizona was solid, blending the new holes into the surrounding environment and enhancing the existing holes with unique redesign touches. Every hole is now distinct with premiums placed on approach shots and distance control, and Bison’s bentgrass greens are fast and pure. Then there is the new signature hole, the par-5 18th, which is called “Thunderbeast.” Mayfair isn’t known for his length off the tee, but he stretched this baby out to 626 yards from the tips. The hole snakes narrowly through some of the tallest pines on the property and ends at a small, well-protected green. Reach it in two shots or finish with a par and you have reason to celebrate with a cold drink or one of the tasty dishes served up nearby at Bison Café Restaurant.

Flagstaff Northern Arizona

Aspen Valley Golf Club

Aspen Valley Golf Club - AZGA
Aspen Valley Golf Club - Flagstaff, Arizona

AZGA Arizona Golf Buzz: Four course designers have had a hand in sculpting Aspen Valley Golf Club, which might seem a little surprising when you see how well it all fits together, but then, they apparently were wise enough to let the natural beauty of the property dictate their individual paths.

In any case, the symmetry was maintained in creating this layout, which is one of the few private clubs in the Flagstaff, AZ area that don’t require property ownership as a precursor to membership.

It is a traditional layout designed around the Rio De Flag watershed with ponds, lakes and streams that bring water into play on 10 holes, including seven on the front nine. Aspens and ponderosa pine trees, and spectacular mountain views provide definition on this course, which closes during winter months.

The original nine holes were designed by Billy Johnson in 1973, with Greg Nash and Jeff Hardin creating the back nine in 1981.

Gary Panks oversaw a renovation of nine holes in 1989. The final product is a course that has five sets of tees ranging from 5,371 to 6,889 yards with a rating of 72.5 and slope of 135 from the back tees.

From a distance standpoint, Aspen Valley might appear to offer plenty of birdie opportunities, but don’t be fooled. The water features and trees can take a huge toll, and Aspen Valley’s smallish, undulating bent-grass greens are well guarded by sand bunkers, placing even more emphasis on accuracy; many of the shorter holes on this layout are the toughest.

The first hole, a par 4 of just 370 yards, is one of the most difficult starting holes in Arizona, playing uphill into the prevailing breeze, with out of bounds both left and right. Many a golfer has had to “reload” on this tee.

The No. 1 handicap hole is the par-4 seventh, playing at a modest 384 yards; be advised, it deserves this high ranking.

The finishing hole is another of the “short-but-tough” offerings. The 366-yard par 4 is a dogleg left that plays uphill to a blind green, which is one of the smallest on the course and slopes from back to front.

The signature hole, however, is No. 8, a picturesque par 3 that plays at 160 yards from the back tee.

Men’s and women’s clubs are very active at this golf-only facility, which encourages walking. Practice facilities and dining options at Aspen Valley both are first rate.

Equity membership is capped at 400 members, but the club also offers associate memberships and a one-year “provisional pass” for prospective members.

As for public golfers, the best chance to tee it up here is in one of several charity tournaments the club hosts annually so sign up for one, and enjoy playing a great golf course while helping out a deserving cause at the same time.

Northern Arizona Prescott

Antelope Hills Golf Course

Arizona Golf Courses – Arizona Golf Authority Golf Course Reviews

Located on the eastern outskirts of Arizona’s “Mile High City’’ – Prescott (5,300 feet above sea level) – Antelope Hills is where the locals play. And they’ve been playing here for quite some time.

Antelope Hills Golf Course - Arizona Golf Course Reviews from the Arizona Golf Authority
Antelope Hills - North Golf Course

The North Course was built in 1956 by one of Arizona’s architectural pioneers, Lawrence Hughes, and embodies traditional values like tight, tree-lined fairways, strategic bunkering and roller-coaster, bent-grass greens.

Avid club players consider the North Course to be an Arizona golf treasure and routinely make the 90-minute drive north from the Scottdale – Phoenix metro area to savor its long-protected and preserved aura from a time gone by.

If stately elms and old school golf is not your thing, tee it up on the Gary Panks-designed South Course, where the links-style fairways and greens are wide open and expose awe-inspiring views of the surrounding Chino Valley and surreal Granite Dells rock formations.

Before and after your round, the on-site Manzanita Grille will handle any food and beverage needs you may have. The patio overlooks the South Course and the Bradshaw Mountains beyond. It’s a full service bar and restaurant affair that’s so good, it serves just as much local traffic that’s not playing golf that day, as golfers who are.

Arizona Golf Authority AZGA “Local Hang” – If you plan to stay in town a few days, just make sure you “camp out’’ downtown at the 100-year-old Hassayampa Inn, just a pitching wedge away from Prescott’s infamous saloons on Whiskey Row.

Who knows? A couple of shots at the Palace Bar or Cadillac Saloon and perhaps you’ll see the Hassayampa Inn’s notorious ghost, fondly named “Faith,’’ who keeps an eye on things around the hotel. You wouldn’t be the first to say you did!

Alpine Northern Arizona

Alpine Country Club

Alpine Country Club – Arizona Golf Courses
With no irrigation system, conditioning here depends largely on Mother Nature, and when she cooperates, it is a fun little track with plenty of charm in the high country. Located in the White Mountains at 8,500 feet above sea level, Alpine Country Club is the highest course in the Southwest and resides in an area known as the “Alps of Arizona.”

alpine-country-club-arizona-photographWhat golfers find here is an entertaining nine-holer with plenty of birdie opportunities, fairways surrounded by dense groves of aspen trees, blue spruce and ponderosa pines in temperatures much cooler than those served up by Arizona’s big cities. They also find abundant wildlife, most notably the spectacular elk that still consider the fairways their stomping grounds.

Designed by Lawrence and Ernie Gay, the course opened in 1963 near the New Mexico border and is well off the beaten path, the nearest town with a stoplight is some 30 miles away. The course plays at 2,650 yards for men, with a rating of 65 and slope of 109 for 18 holes. Ladies’ tees are at 2,305 with a rating and slope of 65.7 and 118.

The par-34 layout starts with a pair of drivable par 4s, and keep in mind that at this elevation, you’ll be gaining plenty of distance on your shots. The first hole, called “Grip ‘N Rip,” is just 267 yards and tempts you to blast away, but it features a tight fairway that narrows to just 40 feet at the entrance to the green. Next up is an even shorter par 4 at 250 yards but there are 100-foot-high ponderosas in the middle of the fairway, 180 yards out, that your tee shot must clear to reach the green, which is heavily sloped from back to front.

And so it goes on this quaint little course that keeps you on your toes with its combination of doglegs, forestry and elevation changes. The eighth hole, a 139-yard par 3 that plays downhill to a green surrounded by 80-foot aspens, offers one of the most beautiful settings on the course and has been the site of several weddings.

Alpine, along the eastern edge of the White Mountains, is in an area known for its gentle rolling mountains and the largest stand of ponderosa pine in the world, with the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and the Gila National Forest providing over 2 million acres of public land. Every direction offers a wonder of nature.

To the north stands Escudilla Mountain at 10,877 feet. The Blue Primitive Area, one of the most remote areas in the western U.S., lies to the south. Off to the west is the Black River with its premium fly fishing and over 50 lakes within an hour’s drive. Due east lies Luna, N.M., and the gorgeous San Francisco River Valley.

This is a very special area of Arizona that you won’t soon forget, and if you’re looking for lodging to complement the golf experience, try the Hannigan Meadow Lodge, the Ta-Wi-Wi Lodge or the Alpine Inn Bed and Breakfast.

Click Arizona Golf Course Reviews for our take on every golf course in Arizona. It’s just a part of “All Things, Arizona Golf” from the Arizona Golf Authority.