A tale of two courses: Fairways fun, greens scary at Eagle Mountain Golf Club northeast of Scottsdale
FOUNTAIN HILLS, Ariz. -- Stand on the tees at Eagle Mountain Golf Club, and you'll like what you see.
Stand on the greens, though, and your view of things changes.
Eagle Mountain G.C., a 6,800-yard, par-71 layout, is essentially two golf courses in one. Designer Scott Miller must have been in a good mood when he laid out wide fairways with mounds on each side that feed wayward tee shots to the short grass.
But he had to be in a diabolical mood when he designed greens with such severe alterations that a two-putt is a cause for celebration.
"The greens are the way the course kind of protects itself, no doubt about it," said Jeremy Hayman, Eagle Mountain Golf Club's head golf professional.
Eagle Mountain Golf Club: Easy to navigate
Eagle Mountain, one of several golf courses in Fountain Hills, Ariz., is one of the easier tracks in the Valley to navigate. Water comes into play on only two holes, Nos. 10 and 18. Sand traps aren't abundant in number or placed in particularly hazardous positions.
The rating from the tips is a relatively tame 71.2, and the forward tees measure just 6,269 yards.
In other words, Eagle Mountain Golf Club is the antithesis of the Valley's desert courses that will eat your golf balls -- and your pride -- for lunch.
"It is player friendly," Hayman said. "We get a lot of players from out-of-state who haven't picked up a club in three or four months, and they can come out here and play off the grass instead of the desert."
That's because of the mounds that flank nearly every par 4 and par 5. Wayward drives on other courses that would find their way into a cholla bush get a fortuitous bounce at Eagle Mountain Golf Club.
"The fairways are pretty generous because they keep you in play," said Jeff Simon, a scratch golfer.
Approach shots are player friendly as well. On most holes, Miller has given golfers a safe entrance should they decide not to try to fly the ball to the pin.
But once they get on the green, Eagle Mountain Golf Club bares its teeth. The greens have so many levels that it's rare to get a straight putt. It's not unusual to have a six- to eight-foot break, and if you hit it long and left on No. 8, a 193-yard par 3, the break is so severe you have to putt into the fringe to have any hope of getting close to the hole.
"If you don't have a deft touch with the wedge or putter, it can be a long day depending on the pin placement," Hayman said.
Normally, Eagle Mountain Golf Club divides its pin placements into three groups: six easy positions, six moderate positions and six difficult positions. If Hayman ever decided to place all 18 in the most difficult spots possible, he'd be sued for assault with deadly weapons.
The greens have accomplices, too: large mounds that make chipping -- and walking back to your carts -- anything but routine.
"Some older patrons give us a hard time, saying they felt like they were a billy goat out there," Hayman said. "There is a little bit of an exercise factor when you play Eagle Mountain."
Oh, did we also mention that five of the six par 3s measure at least 183 yards from the back tees? It's as easy to make a 5 on those holes as it is on the par-5s.
Like most Valley golf courses, Eagle Mountain offers spectacular scenic views. But here's guessing you'll enjoy them a lot more from the fairways than you will the greens.
Eagle Mountain Golf Club: The verdict
Eagle Mountain Golf Club isn't one of the most challenging courses you'll find in the Valley, so low-handicap golfers may prefer some of the longer, more well-known layouts in north Scottsdale.
But for the majority of swingers who more often than not struggle with their driver, it's a nice change from searching for your ball while listening for rattlesnakes. Plus, you probably won't have to restock your ball supply after the round.
Maybe that's why in Golf World's 2009 Readers Poll, Eagle Mountain Golf Club was ranked as one of the top 50 public golf courses in the country.
The Eagle Mountain Golf Academy offers private instruction, including two- and three-day schools from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The course, which features a full driving range and practice putting green, is located less than 15 minutes away from Scottsdale's resorts and upper-scale eating establishments.
June 2, 2010