Arizona Golf Authority AZGA Golf Course Buzz: It isn’t the oldest golf course in Arizona, but most would agree that Phoenix Country Club is the most historic in the state. Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater and his brother, Bob, who is known as the “Father of the Phoenix Open,” were instrumental in creating the club. Founded in 1899, the club had modest golf facilities at three sites around the Phoenix area before finding its current downtown Phoenix home in 1919.
Phoenix Country Club hosted its first tournament the next year and later became the host of the Phoenix Open, which stands as one of the oldest events on the PGA Tour. The club hosted the event 40 times between 1932 and 1986 (some years it was played at two other sites) and those who won the title at PCC include Byron Nelson, Jimmy Demaret, Ben Hogan, Gene Littler, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and the “desert fox”, Johnny Miller.
Englishman Harry Collis designed the parkland-style layout that features tree-lined fairways, big, traditional bunkers and subtle greens that vary in size depending on the difficulty of the hole.
The club retained the design team of Tom Lehman and John Fought to refurbish the course in 2002 and they put a premium on preserving its old-school styling.
“It needed to keep that traditional look with elevated greens and strategic bunkering, and at the same time take advantage of new turf grasses that provide a better playing surface,” Lehman said of the $6 million project. “At the end of the day, the goal was to make the course look and feel old, but make it strategic and keep it fun to play with great conditions. It’s something we need to do with these traditional courses that have wall-to-wall grass because we don’t have very many left in the area.”
Greens were resurfaced after the makeover to complete the project on a course that now sparkles. Phoenix Country Club plays to par 71 with two men’s and two ladies’ tees, and is 6,764 yards from the tips with a rating of 72.4 and slope of 129.
The course features some long par-3 holes, demanding par-4s and a pair of reachable par-5s that bookend the layout. No. 1 is a 511-yard par 5 with a long, slender green that offers a birdie to those who avoid a large pine tree along the right fairway and the right greenside bunker. The 18th, at 527 yards, is a classic risk-reward hole where a long drive up the left-center will allow you to reach the green, but water lurks on the right side and bunkers left; both are bogeys in waiting.
Phoenix Country Club has its own “Amen Corner” version with a three-hole stretch starting at No. 13. The par-3, with a hazard on the right, plays at 207 yards to a two-tiered green. The 14th, a 413-yard par-4, features out of bounds left and right, and the 15th is a 166-yard par-3 with water short and deep bunkers guarding the left and back of the green.
Phoenix Country Club also offers tennis, swimming, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a full-service clubhouse that was named one of the top 100 in the country by Golf World magazine in 2010 (Read Phoenix Country Club Article) and locker rooms with historical photos and artifacts on display.
The club offers several memberships, including those for residents and non-residents, golfers and non-golfers. As always, new members must be sponsored by existing members.
Arizona Golf Authority AZGA “Local Hang” for Phoenix Country Club includes Durant’s, on the east side of Central Avenue, just north of Virginia, and TexAZ, on the northeast corner of 16th Street and Bethany Home Road.