Payson, Arizona a scenic little town with must play golf

By Maggie Edwards, Contributor

Want a little bit of Colorado in your Arizona life? Whether you live in the Phoenix area or are considering relocating here, Chaparral Pines is a must-see, must-play golf community on the rise. It's also a must-have money kind of place.

It's been 10 years in the making, and the first course, Chaparral Pines, designed by Gary Panks and David Graham, has been playable for almost two years. These two very talented designers carved this fabulous course out of the pines of Payson, Arizona, about 1-l/2 hours out of Phoenix, on the road to the White Mountains.

There will ultimately be 400 members, most of whom are part-time residents in some gorgeous mountainside homes tastefully interspersed around and above the golf course. One must buy a lot and pay $50,000 for a full membership ($15,000 for a weekday membership).

If that's not enough of a choice for you, across the highway is yet another five star golf course called The Rim (because at 4,700 feet elevation, it has wonderful views of the Mogollon Rim). That membership is a bit more exclusive at 290 members who also must own a lot. For an additional $75,000 over your lot cost, you play the Weiskopf/Moorish golf course set to open in June of l999.

I played the Golf Course at Chaparral Pines and was in heaven. Having grown up in the mountains of Colorado, there was nothing to lead me to believe I wasn't in Colorado. Except the short drive from Phoenix. It's a first-class development, and although the permanent clubhouse won't be built until next year, the tennis courts, pools (all sizes), exercise facility, kids dream-like playground and water slides are ready to go. All in a wood and glass sort of way.

And for the golfers, it doesn't get much better than this. Pine trees surround the holes, many of the fairways are undulating and narrow, and local knowledge definitely helps. The architects kept the outcroppings of rocks on many of the holes making placement key as well as keeping the integrity in tact.

The women's tees don't take out the hazards like some course architects feel they must. On the contrary, we still get plenty of challenges from hitting over ravines, water and outcroppings.

The number one handicap hole for women is number seven. Long hitters should hit a long iron or 5 wood. The fairway is serpentine and does not have many level lies. The shot to the green is over a rock ditch in front with a hillside of trees behind. It's a great hole.

Number fourteen also requires a long iron or 5 wood for long knockers hitting to the top of a ledge marked by boulders. It's birdiable if you don't spray your next shot into the woods.

Now let's talk about the greens. They are screaming fast, especially in January when the grass isn't growing. But, they're fast when the grass IS growing, and they are wonderfully true to putt. In fact, you can putt a lot. It's extremely easy to 3 putt. The green on number 16 is so long and narrow, it's a difference of up to 3 clubs. Many greens are elevated, and depending on the pin placement, your score could soar.

I toured a bit of the other course, and even though it's only across the road, it has a totally different feel to it. Weiskopf and Moorish were blessed with giant boulders that they artistically incorporated. One boulder is over 70 feet high. It will be a slice of heaven judging by what I saw and by the architects in charge.

The Chaparral Pines women's tees are rated 70.0 with a 138 slope. It's a "thinking" course which is difficult to do sometimes when you're so busy with the beauty of it all. But, you'd better concentrate when you walk onto the putting surface.

The staff couldn't be friendlier or more accommodating. We ordered lunch at the turn, and they delivered it to our golf cart on number ten green.

So, if you're contemplating a spot in the ponderosa pines of Arizona and the stock market has been good to you, better check out Chaparral Pines or The Rim. It would be tough to improve on what's been carved out.

Maggie Edwards, Contributor

Edwards grew up in Glenwood Springs, Colo., playing golf and skiing, then moved many places, the most recent of which was Boston until landing in Phoenix. An 8 handicap, she likes to play competitively and hates to play slow.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment