Central Arizona Rio Verde

Tegavah Golf Club

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-golf-16Tegavah 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.

Before you tee it up, read an Arizona Golf Course Review for every golf course in Arizona from the Arizona Golf Authority. It’s “All Things, Arizona Golf.”


Central Arizona Mesa

Mesa Country Club

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.

mesa-country-club-tee-photoThere’s nothing tricked up about Mesa Country Club. From the tee, you can clearly see what’s expected of you as you determine your plan of attack.

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-fairwayMesa 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.

Read the Arizona Golf Course Review for every golf course in Arizona before you tee it up. You’ll find it’s “All Things Arizona Golf” from the Arizona Golf Authority.

Central Arizona Scottsdale

Camelback Golf Club – Ambiente Course


Ambiente Course – Camelback Golf Club – Arizona Golf Courses
Ambiente is the new name for for the forgettable Indian Bend Course at Camelback Golf Club. Architect Jason Straka, on behalf of Hurdzan/Fry Environmental Golf Desegn, has completely transformed this tract into a championship caliber test of golf, and a complimentary pairing to Camelback’s original layout, the parkland-style Padre Course.

Ambiente, the Spanish term for “environment”, has a links-type feel as it winds its way across an area known locally as the Indian Bend Wash. You’re ensconced within a mature area of mid-town Scottsdale here so the stunning mountain backdrops, scenic water holes, colorful flowering gardens and luxurious homes are no surprise. And Ambiente is just one component of the $70 million, seven year renovation project completed at the historic JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort and Spa.

camelback-ambiente-13-photographLocal players are pleasantly “shocked” at the transformation, particularly the artful native grass vegetation that frames the playing surfaces and penalizes wayward shots.

Five sets of tee boxes are provided for your consideration, and the most forward set guarantees you’ll have no forced carries during your round.  Ambiente’s par 72 offering can be stretched to 7,221 yards; it’s up to you.

AZGA “Local Hang” – After the last putt drops, enjoy the 36,000-square-foot pueblo-styled clubhouse. It’s a great place to unwind with libation and tasty dishes, patio dining and outdoor adobe-style fireplace ambiance facing a lake and waterfall on the Padre’s finishing hole. The two courses are not located at the Camelback Inn at JW Marriott Resort, but are about three miles away. If you are lucky enough to stay at the resort, you will experience first-class amenities that are among the best in Arizona. If not, there are myriad hotels and restaurants in the area from which to choose because this golf facility, even with its rustic setting, is located near the heart of Scottsdale.

Click Padre Course at Camelback Golf Club to read about the original course, and for every golf course in Arizona, click Arizona Golf Course Reviews. It’s “All Things Arizona Golf” from the Arizona Golf Authority.

Southern Arizona Tucson

Sewailo Golf Club

Sewailo Golf Club at Casion del Sol – Arizona Golf Course Reviews
The golf buzz in Tucson for over a year now has been all about the city’s latest, greatest golf course, Sewailo, the first true champion- ship layout to be built in Arizona in the past five years. Adding to the excitement: former PGA Tour player/ Golf Channel analyst/architect Notah Begay has his name on it.

Sewailo, pronounced “Say-why-lo,” is an enterprise of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, which also owns Casino Del Sol. The casino is in the southwestern corner of Tucson off Valencia Road, and the 7,500-yard golf course, which is managed by Scottsdale-based Troon, is directly south of the casino.

Begay and his NB3 Consulting Company served as the driving force for Sewailo, with help from fellow architect Ty Butler and the tribe.

So what does Begay, a budding star in both the architectural and broadcasting industries, think of his third course, which follows Sequoyah National in Cherokee, N.C., and Firekeeper Golf Club in Topeka, Kan.?

“It’s vastly different from anything I’ve done yet, chiefly because we had to move a lot of dirt to create the type of big-theater feel we were after,” said Begay, a three-time All-American at Stanford and a four-time winner on the PGA Tour.

“What we came up with in working with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe is a golf course that is a hybrid between a desert and parkland style of layout. It’s a golf course that is in harmony with the desert, and that’s really the heritage of the Pascua Yaquis, who according to their history come from the ‘Flower World.’ ”

Landscapes Unlimited, which works with Begay on all of his projects that are done exclusively with Native American tribes, had the task of moving 30,000 shrubs and trees, as well as hundreds of saguaros and other indigenous plants.

According to Begay, the planting and replanting were quite successful on the 100-acre property that includes 14 acres of lakes and 1 mile of creeks. Additionally, there was a massive amount of rockwork done throughout Sewailo, including bridges and green settings.

“Sewailo has three distinct feels or segments to the golf course,” said Begay, 40, who has an economics degree from Stanford and once shot 59 in a Tour event, the third player in history to do so.

“There are lakes and streams at the beginning, and then the water disappears and you’re in the desert before the water re- emerges. And from the first tee to the 18th hole, there are lots of wildflowers. That was my goal, to implement the Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s story into the golf course.”

The Yaquis migrated from Mexico to Arizona way back in 552 AD, where they lived between the Yaqui and Gila rivers. The history of the tribe can be found at Sewailo is the Yaquis’ biggest enterprise following the casino, which today employs more than 700 members. The course also could add as many as 75 jobs to the payroll.

Dan LaRouere is the course’s general manager, after spending the last 20 years as the GM of the Westin La Paloma, also in Tucson, and says the hype for Tucson’s latest property, which follows the opening of the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain in 2008, “has been off the charts.”

“This is a golf town with lots of great golf properties, and we’re the new guy in town. Plus, we’re managed by Troon. “It seems that everybody is talking about us, and that’s probably the reason we’ve already booked so many tournaments.

LaRouere noted, “It’s a beautiful golf course in a beautiful desert-mountain setting, with lots of water, bunkers and wildflowers.” He also labeled fairways as “generous,” with green settings that are “as good as any I’ve seen in Arizona.”

“The secret will be to navigate your ball through the strategically placed water because it will get you if you hit an errant shot,” LaRouere said. “And the bunkers, which are on nearly every fairway and around every green, also must be negotiated if you’re going to shoot a good score.”

The 18th hole is the perfect example, as the fairway and near- island green bring water into play. It is a dramatic conclusion that crescendos at the finish, although LaRouere wasn’t quite ready to concede that the 18th is Sewailo’s signature hole.

“That’s a matter of opinion. A lot of people think that, but a lot of people also think Number 3 is pretty special,” he said. “The third hole is a short par 3 over water, and, personally, I’m leaning to Number 3.”

One thing is already dead-solid perfect about Sewailo, LaRouere added. And it’s all about the guy who worked for four years with the tribe to conceptualize the idea.

“Notah Begay is a rock star to Native Americans, not just with the Yaquis,” he said.

Begay, who is one-half Navajo and one- quarter San Felipe and Isleta, understands his role for the tribes he builds golf courses for to a “T.” He also gets golf, which makes for a terrific one-two punch.

“The vast majority of the tribe has never played golf, doesn’t really know the game, and so my role is to help them form their ideas,” said Begay, who has several other projects with Native American tribes in various stages.

“I’m like a facilitator in that my experiences in golf help bring things to life for them,” he said. “And golf is a very tough business these days, so I want to make sure I’m going to get them a golf course that will be so good that it’s profitable.”

How good is Sewailo, according to the guy who dreamed it up?

“I think we hit a home run, although we still have to see how the people take to it,” Begay said with cautious optimism. “I think the water holes are exceptional, and we were very creative in that we brought in lakes to fill in all the dirt we moved to make mounding and bunkers. And we moved a lot.

“In the end, it was a very balanced project, and the cooperation and input from the tribe goes a long way in explaining why Sewailo is so phenomenal.” Visit Sewailo Golf Club at

Our AZGA “Local Hang” for Sewailo Golf Club is the attendant Casino del Sol Resort Hotel and Casino. Accomodations, casino gaming and food and beverage are all first rate. The hotel and golf course are such a great one-two punch, you ought to consider expanding your “hang time” to a few days. You’ll enjoy your stay and another loop or two around Sewailo will be time very well spent.

Before you tee it up in Arizona, click Arizona Golf Course Reviews for our “Insider’s Playing Review” of every golf course in the State – all 325 of ‘em!

It’s just part of “All Things Arizona Golf” presented by the Arizona Golf Authority.

Northern Arizona Show Low

Torreon Golf Club – Tower Course / Cabin Course

Arizona Golf Courses — Torreon Golf CLub

The late Robert Von Hagge worked as a commercial artist before he became a golf course architect and liked to sketch his projects before they became reality. Many who have played Torreon’s Tower and Cabin courses say he created a masterpiece here, but then, he started with a pretty awesome canvas that lies in the heart of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

torreon-golf-club-cabin-course-photoVon Hagge, who died in 2010, has always been considered an eccentric designer. But his course designs at Doral’s Blue Monster and Tucson National are traditional classics, and he was completely captivated by the topography he found at the Torreon site amid the natural beauty of the White Mountains in northeastern Arizona.

“It’s beautiful, rolling country with stands of Ponderosa Pine you wouldn’t believe,” he said while he was designing the Tower Course, which opened in 1999. “We have some spectacular open meadows and marshlands, so we have all the natural elements we need to create a premier, world-class facility.”

Tower is the first of the two golf courses built at Torreon, a private club located in the White Mountains community of Show Low. At the wish of Desert Troon of Scottsdale, which spearheaded this project, Von Hagge created holes that were both memorable and distinctive. His design embraces the landscape with seven lakes bringing plenty of water into play, and each green seems to have its own personality. Forced carries approaching several greens add to the challenge. The Tower Course has five sets of tees ranging from 5,195 to 7,134 yards and is rated at 72.3 with a slope of 143 from the tips.

Highlights of the layout include the eighth, ninth and 15th holes. The par-5 eighth is the longest hole on the course at 593 yards and features a double dogleg that can be shortened slightly by attempting to carry the first bunker complex along the right side. From there, it plays downhill and to the left, requiring a shot over a series of pot bunkers to cut off a little more length.

The ninth is a 424-yard par 4 that doglegs right, around a tree-lined corner to a green situated between two ponds and surrounded by wetlands. No. 15 is a 181-yard par 3 that leaves little margin for error, although there is some bailout room on the right side. The putting surface is a medium-sized target but is protected by a small pond in front and three bunkers around the left side. Tower also has a delightful risk-reward finishing hole; the 377-yard par 4 plays through more wetlands to a green in a serene postcard setting.

The Cabin Course, completed in 2007, has a little more of a wilderness feel. It is set among a thick pine forest and travels over hilly terrain with a lot more change in elevation than the Tower Course. With elevated tees on virtually every hole, and small greens with subtle undulations, it presents some terrific downhill approach shots and some challenging uphill climbs, with par-3 offerings being the strength of the layout.

Von Hagge was joined by his longtime partners Michael Smelek and Richard Baril in this design, and it’s routed in the classic manner of nine holes out and nine holes back to the clubhouse, with the popular namesake “Cabin” located at the turn. This unique rustic building serves as a snack bar during golf rounds and a delightful dining establishment in the evenings.

The Cabin Course has five sets of tees ranging from 5,348 to 7,148 yards, with a rating of 73.5 and slope of 138 from the back tees. The front nine presents some interesting routing with three par-3’s, three par-4’s and three par-5’s. The Cabin’s par-3 collection plays at 172, 211, 237, 162 and 222-yards, and they leave quite an impression on first-timers to the course. The ninth is the longest of those and features a penalizing wash that runs from the front of the tee area down the left side of the hole; a high draw is the shot required to avoid a bunker and wash to reach the green.

No. 12 is the shortest of the group and is a deceptive hole with a green framed by water and fronted by a small pot bunker. With the elevation here, you can afford to take one club less than the yardage suggests and that will help in avoiding the water behind the green. Some consider the fifth to be the signature hole, however. This par 4, which plays at 416 yards from the tips, requires a tee shot over a ravine and an approach over another ravine to reach an elevated green.

Very few homes encroach upon the Cabin Course property, which presents views from the highest elevations of the sprawling White Mountains, a landmark engulfed by the wondrous playground that is known as the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and spans 2.63 million acres. Once inhabited by Native American tribes and pioneers, it now serves as a wonderful summer respite for residents of the often-sweltering deserts of Arizona.

Torreon, another word for fortress, is a private club with three membership levels, for property owners and non-owners. Members have access to first-rate dining facilities, a fully equipped fitness and aquatic center, spa, tennis facilities, an equestrian center and family recreation center. This area of the White Mountains is an outdoor activities paradise with more than 600 miles of streams, more than 40 lakes and a 200-mile trail system, that offers some of the best hiking, biking, canoeing, fishing, horseback riding, and of course golf, in the Arizona.