Tegavah Golf Club – Arizona Golf Courses
It’s a new name for the same great golf course it’s always been, in a spectacular setting that makes you glad you played here today.
Originally opened for play in 2006 as Vista Verde Golf Club, this Ken Kavanaugh design remains one of the most playable and scenic desert-style golf courses in the Scottsdale – Rio Verde locale.
The name Tegavah is inspired by the Native American Yavapai word for “gathering place” and will be the new moniker for the golf club and the adjacent 850-acre community purchased last fall by Brookfield Residential Properties and JEN Partners. TerraWest Communities, LLC is serving those interests as the new developer.
Course architect Ken Kavanaugh shared recently that he’s not only busy adding a few enhancements to the golf course, but he’s been included in the design phase of the new clubhouse that’s on the drawing boards.
And that’s a good thing for players who enjoy his famously “soft hands” when it comes to blending a golf facility into it’s natural site.
A loop at Tegavah is a delight. Kavanaugh took advantage of the natural, rolling terrain and provided rather expansive fairway landing areas amid the harsh, desert surroundings. Most players will find turf with their tee balls if they choose their tee box wisely from the six options offered.
Green complexes are expanses of subtleness that challenge scratch players and keeps those of us pitching and chipping to them entertained as well.
Tegavah can play from 7,229 to 5,033 yards, as reflected in the rating/slope range of 73.8/143 to 63.3/112.
Our favorite stretch at Tegavah is the three-hole finish.
Sixteen is an enticing, 341-yard birdie opportunity. A natural desert arroyo angles across the fairway in the landing area so your choice is to lay-up short of it or fly it with your tee ball.
The 626-yard par 5 seventeenth is serious, simple golf. Three solid shots fit into a graceful, right-to-left swinging fairway will reward you with another birdie putt.
Par 4 is fine at the closing 411-yard 18th, where you’ll find the right half of the putting surface surrounded by water.
Whatever your scorecard totals, a day at Tegavah provides so many panoramic vistas across the Verde River valley to the Mazatzal Mountains and it’s famous Four Peaks outcropping that you’ll be happy your group chose this “gathering place” for the day.
Tonto Verde Golf Club – Peaks Course / Ranch Course
Tonto Verde Golf Club is the centerpiece of the private golf community of the same name, located just 15 miles east of Scottsdale in Rio Verde, Arizona. Instead of concrete freeways and skyscrapers, this upscale property is perched high above the Verde River Valley and is surrounded by the native desert splendor of the adjacent Tonto National Forest.
Tonto Verde may translate from Spanish as “green fool,” but “green with envy” is a better description of golfers who have seen the property’s spectacular 360-degree mountain vistas and enjoyed the first-class clubhouse, elegant country club amenities and two semi-private championship golf courses.
That’s right, each day Tonto Verde Golf Club reserves one course for membership play and welcomes public play on the other. It’s an open invitation worth accepting too.
The Peaks Course, which opened for play in 1993, is the original layout at Tonto Verde and is one of the last layouts built by the highly respected Gary Panks and David Graham design team. Its namesake, Four Peaks, is the distinctive mountain formation to the east, across the Verde River Valley, distracting your attention all day.
The Peaks is the shorter of the two courses, and a bit tighter, placing a greater premium on accuracy. You’ll be treated to gently rolling fairways laid across the arid desert canvas and well-manicured bentgrass putting surfaces that are subtly contoured; a perfect match for their smallish size.
The Peaks plays to par 72 at 6,737 yards from the back tees and man-made lakes come into play on three holes, particularly the fifth, which is the signature hole. This par-4 plays at just 351 yards and water threatens both sides of the fairway. The approach shot to a two-tiered green is complicated by water as well. The fifth is also the shortest par-4, the only one under 400 yards from the tips, on the front nine.
The back nine features a delightful par-4 at the 13th which is drivable for big hitters, at just 305 yards from the back tees. As is customary, the desert terrain presents a formidable hazard here and we see a lot more lay-up tee shot one-putt birdies than big-drive eagles or two-putt birdies, combined.
The Ranch Course was added in 1999 with Gary Panks going solo on the design here. Mr. Panks knows his way around the difficult issue of artfully pairing two contrasting golf courses. He made the 6,988-yard Ranch Course a tad longer, but a bit more forgiving, particularly in the fairway landing areas. The Ranch Course’s larger greens will help your G.I.R. statistics as well.
Named after the Box Bar Ranch, which began operation on these lands in 1919, the Ranch Course features one of the best finishing stretches in the Scottsdale / Phoenix locale.
It begins at the devilish 14th, the shortest par-4 on the course at 317 yards from the back tees (just 276 from the middle tees). The classic risk-reward hole tempts you to go for it, but a ball-grabbing brook haunts the entire right side of the fairway and multi-fingered bunkers threaten both the lay-up tee shot and the contoured green.
The 15th is a tough, but fair 202-yard par-3. Water and bunkers hug the entire right side of the green, while the left side is wide open. Just relax and play it smart here.
Set up on the left side of the green and play the fade. If the shot drifts right as intended, you’ll have a fair birdie putt; if it stays straight, you’ll have a low-stress chance to get it up and in for par.
The straightaway par-4 16th demands two proper golf shots to reach the green. Playing 430 yards from the tips, they must be solid and well-executed. But out of respect for the hole’s length, you won’t find a single fairway or greenside bunker here, just a desert arroyo crossing the fairway about 40 yards short of the green.
Then comes the entertaining par-5 17th, another risk-reward hole that plays to 531 yards from the back tees, but just 484 from the middle tees. The landing area is plentiful, and hugging the left side will allow you to go for the green in two shots, but the approach must carry over desert landscape. The safe play, away from cacti and desert creatures, is to lay-up in the second island of fairway Panks provided. It’s just a short iron to the island green-complex from there.
The 437-yard par-4 18th is a strong finishing hole that’s all about making sure you carry your tee ball over the desert transition area between your tee box and the wide, generous fairway. Bunkers guard both sides at the front of the green so club yourself to the middle yardage, no matter where the pin is cut.
Both Tonto Verde courses offer five sets of tees, as well as two additional “combo-tee” setups. So no matter what yardage you’re comfortable playing from, you’ll find one of these seven course yardage setups is just right for you.
The AZGA “Local Hang” for Tonto Verde is the luxurious 26,000-square foot clubhouse with exceptional dining and banquet facilities, a fitness center, swimming pool, spa, activity rooms and library.
And if you have bets to settle, head over to the 18-hole all-turf putting course Panks also designed. It’s a great way to play 36 and soak up a bit more of the scenic splendor served up by Tonto Verde Golf Club.
Rio Verde Country Club – Quail Run Course / White Wing Course
It has been around for nearly 40 years, but Rio Verde has re-emerged as a significant player in the Valley of the Sun’s private golf club offerings following the $6 million redesign and renovation of the two courses, located just northeast of Scottsdale.
British Open champion, Ryder Cup captain and Scottsdale resident, Tom Lehman was hired to oversee the makeover, and he envisioned creating two distinctly different courses. Quail Run is Rio Verde’s original course, designed in 1973 by Milt Coggins. It’s a traditional layout, while White Wing, which was completed about 10 years later, is a links-style course.
Both are nestled in the lower Verde River Valley, north of Scottsdale on the fringes of the Tonto National Forest and McDowell Mountain Park. That adds up to some terrific views of the surrounding mountain ranges and serene wilderness on courses defined by rolling fairways, undulating greens and plenty of grass in contrast to desert-style layouts created in later years.
Lehman’s view is that Quail Run, with narrow, meandering fairways, greens surrounded by fringe and rough, and flashed-up sand bunkers has all the elements of a traditional course; he confirmed, “That’s the look we intended from the start.”
The par-72 course has five sets of tees ranging from 4,806 to 6,602-yards and is rated at 70.6 with a slope of 121 from the back tees. Lehman is a fan of strategic design and risk-reward holes and both come into play on Quail Run. The fourth hole is a beautiful par-3 at 199-yards to an elevated green where you must carry a water hazard and place your shot between two towering palm trees.
Another of those risk-reward holes is the par-5 sixth, which plays at just 465-yards and presents some stunning mountain views in the background, but going for the green in two requires a perfectly placed shot among several daunting bunkers.
Right behind it is the par-4 seventh at 394-yards with a sharp dogleg left, where long hitters are tempted to cut the corner leaving a short iron to the green, but must also carry a stand of tall trees to pull it off.
The course finishes with another risk-reward hole, a beautiful 503-yard par-5 guarded by water from 150 yards out, and water and sand bunkers protecting three sides of the green. Pay particular attention to the pin position on this green; stopping your approach below the hole is our recommendation.
White Wing, the second course created at Rio Verde by Milt Coggins, was originally completed by architects Greg Nash and Jeff Hardin in 1983. Lehman’s complete redesign of this course proved to be a little more challenging because the members wanted to create a links-style layout as a contrast to Quail Run’s traditional routing.
Lehman, as has been the case with all of his design work, did an excellent job of creating a layout that complemented its sister course perfectly, while maintaining the stunning views provided by the McDowell Mountain Preserve, Four Peaks and other landmarks in this area north of Scottsdale.
“White Wing was always intended to have very wide chipping areas surrounding the greens,” Lehman said when the project was completed. “The greens themselves were always intended to have more movement. The net result is a golf course that was intended to play like a links course, with the ability to use a variety of clubs around the greens.”
The former British Open champion always has been a big fan of the style of play that provides options in attacking greens, and it shows at White Wing, a par-71 layout with four sets of tees ranging from 4,672 to 6,535 yards, with a rating of 70.2 and slope of 120 from the tips.
Among the most scenic holes is the fifth, a 440-yard par-4 with a right dogleg, back-dropped by the Tonto National Forest and Four Peaks. Right behind it is an excellent par-3 of 198-yards with a green that slopes back to front and bunkers guarding both sides, putting a premium on an accurate tee shot.
There are three memorable risk-reward holes in a four-hole stretch that add a fun challenge to the round. No. 9 is a 327-yard par-4 to a heavily-bunkered green. The 11th is a par-4 of just 276-yards, but a lake wraps around the entire left side of the green and bunkers guard the front and right. No. 12 is a par-5 of 485-yards with a dogleg right that can be reached in two shots, but water also comes into play here, with a lake that skirts the right side of the green.
Rio Verde occupies roughly 735 acres, and has approximately 950 homes, with a total population of about 1,400. The club offers several membership options for residents and non-residents. The elegant 27,000 s.f. clubhouse offers several different dining options and a full range of club services and amenities.