Greens, views define a round of golf at Las Sendas Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona

By Jason P. Skoda, Contributor

MESA, Ariz. -- Don't believe the eyes.

Las Sendas golf course
Las Sendas regularly gets placed among the top 10 golf courses in Arizona.
Las Sendas golf courseLas Sendas Golf Club - 18thLas Sendas Golf Club - 13 and 14th greensLas Sendas Golf Club - 7th hole
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Las Sendas Golf Club

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Las Sendas is a nature walk through the desert, attracting you with beauty and challenging you with shot options.

18 Holes | Public golf course | Par: 72 | 7004 yards | Book online | ... details »

Not here, not at Las Sendas Golf Club. They will deceive you.

The greens at Las Sendas are big and inviting. Pin placements look innocent from a distance. Then they flip on you.

More directly, they slope and run off. They have two tiers. Ridges make for double breakers. Speed tends to pick up on anything toward the Valley.

And yet the greens at Las Sendas, located in the higher elevations of northeast Mesa, are what stick in your head when you drive away from one of the best community golf courses in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.

"The greens have always been the highlight of the track," Phoenix resident and 1-handicap Jason Gard said. "I'm guessing they were running at about an 11 (on the Stimpeter), but they held and ran very true."

Las Sendas Golf Club: The course

The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., but there is nothing secondary about it.

Ever since it opened up to the public in 1995, Las Sendas has been considered not only among the best in the East Valley but the entire state as it regularly gets placed among the top 10 toughest courses in the Valley.

It winds through the homes of Las Sendas community, but the structures are not intrusive like other courses. By no means do you leave the course thinking the homes interfere with the play or take away from the natural flow of the layout.

The golf course plays long, 6,925 from the tips, and offers a ton of different looks (six set of tees) that fit various levels of golf.

"We've softened the course so that players of all levels can enjoy the course," Executive Director and Managing Partner Lloyd McBean said. "There are bigger landing areas, and it is easier to find your ball, but if you are playing from the tips, it still lives up to the reputation."

The one thing lacking on the course is help for players who haven't played the course before as there is no GPS, although yardage charts are provided. There are several holes that course knowledge is needed with 90 degree turns of the fairway and blind shots off the tee.

Maybe it is a keen way of making sure of getting return green fees, because there are certainly plenty of holes that can have you thinking if I had known that, I would have played it differently.

There are several holes, especially on the easier front nine, where the driver can definitely be left in the bag. Some like the idea of target golf rather than letting it rip with little consequence. It clearly isn't the case at Las Sendas.

The gem of the front nine just might be the 403-yard (third set of tees), par-4 fourth as the dogleg right offers an intriguing landing area. You have to trust you can clear the boulder and saguaro-filled desert area without blowing through the far-side fairway some 254 yards out. Then the approach shot is a bit elevated and the backdrop is a gorgeous mountain.

The seventh hole is where you make sure to bring out the camera as Red Mountain makes its first appearance on the short par 3 (120 from the tips -- 100 from ladies).

The back nine brings the driver back into play more often, and there are some elevated tee boxes (No. 13), and the uphill No. 14 leaves a bit of a quandary as to what club will get you onto the challenging green without bringing the bunkers into play.

Golf instruction at Las Sendas G.C.

The instruction level at Las Sendas falls in line with everything else at the facility, with Mike Malaska, 2011 PGA Teacher of the Year, bringing his Malaska Golf Academy to Las Sendas in 2013.

Las Sendas offers instruction for beginners, juniors, group lessons, playing lessons and more.

Las Sendas Golf Club: The verdict

Las Sendas Golf Club lands on just about every list of top golf courses in Arizona; and while the course is quirky, unique and challenging it's more about the location.

It is an elevated course, about 1,800 above sea level, in the Valley, which is a rarity, and it sits in the Usery Mountains with gorgeous views of vistas, with Red Mountain the star of the show.

The McBeans bought the course in 2008 and promptly upgraded everything while adding cart paths, on-course bathrooms and snack shops, while making it a more well rounded facility by adding a banquet hall and a pro shop with locker rooms.

The final three holes are very picturesque, and if you can manage to finish around dusk, the view from the 18th tee box with the sunset and with the Phoenix skyline and Camelback Mountain in the distance is postcard worthy.

Throw in the quality dining -- Bogie's Steak and Seafood House -- and Las Sendas gives everything you could want out of a golf experience. Expect for maybe a green that is flat, easy and ready for gimme birdie putts.

No, those mischievous dance floors will have none of that.

Jason P. SkodaJason P. Skoda, Contributor

Jason P. Skoda started his career as a sports writer in Ohio after graduating Kent State in 1994. Since moving to the Phoenix area in 2004 he has cut his handicap in half while writing for the Arizona Republic, Ahwatukee Foothills News and East Valley Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda.

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