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 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.