Solid play: Fun Legacy Golf Resort in Phoenix boasts immaculate conditioning, affordable green fees

By Scott Bordow, Contributor

PHOENIX -- When the golf-course construction boom hit the greater Phoenix area in the 1990s and the early 2000s, courses generally fell into two categories: The local municipals that had been around forever and still catered to the jeans-and-T-shirt crowd, or the top-end tracks that were built by name designers, wound up on top-10 lists and cost a fortune.

The Legacy Golf Resort
The Legacy Golf Resort: a straightforward Gary Panks design that's easy on the scorecard -- and wallet.
The Legacy Golf ResortThe Legacy Golf Resort - clubhouseThe Legacy golf courseThe Legacy Golf Resort - putting green
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The Legacy Golf Club

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Legacy Golf Club’s championship course features lush, green fairways, forgiving rough and strategically-placed hazards. Dramatic elevation changes provide extensive views of nearby Camelback Mountain, Squaw Peak and the Phoenix skyline. The resort itself features 328 suites with kitchens, a practice facility, pool, fitness center and tennis court. The facility also includes a fully stocked pro shop and a golf academy.

18 Holes | Public/Resort golf course | Par: 71 | 6946 yards | Book online | ... details »

Missing, at least on a widespread basis, were courses that were several steps above a muni but not as difficult or expensive to play as the name-brand layouts.

Thank goodness, then, for places such as the The Legacy Golf Resort, a par-71, 6,946-yard layout in south Phoenix that offers the amenities of a top-10 course but without the ugly numbers on the scorecard or the deep dent in the wallet.

Legacy does have a name designer; it was constructed by Gary Panks, who has done several courses in the Valley. But Panks didn't build the course to punish golfers; there are enough desert layouts in the area that do that.

Instead, Legacy is a straightforward golf course that also is easy on the fees. In the hot summer months, golfers can play for as little as $25 on weekdays and $30 on weekends.

That may be the best bargain in the state. The winter rates -- tourist season in Arizona -- jump above $100, but that's still less than half than many of the elite courses charge.

The Legacy Golf Resort: The course

But the best part about Legacy is its welcoming design. The first thing golfers will notice are the generous fairways. Desert courses in the Valley often feature fairways so narrow that any shot off line will wind up being a one-stroke penalty. But Legacy's fairways will gobble up all but the completely wayward shot; the fairway on the 405-yard 10th hole, for example, is 50-yards wide.

In addition, there are few, if any, blind shots or forced carries. The course unfolds right in front of the golfer. In that respect, Legacy has much more in common with old-school Midwestern courses than Valley desert layouts.

The key to putting up a good score at Legacy is conquering the par 3s and figuring out the greens. Three of the par 3s are at least 185 yards from the back tees. No. 15 is particularly challenging, at 185 yards with a huge bunker and lake left of the green. Playing safe on the hole isn't just advisable, it's mandatory.

Legacy's greens -- which, by the way, are as finely manicured as any in the Valley -- are difficult to read. Golfers who have played the course repeatedly say the greens break far more severely than what most players think. One key: The greens break away from South Mountain and toward the Valley.

There's not one hole at Legacy that stands out above the rest. Instead, Legacy has one solid golf hole after another. If there is a highlight, it's the 558-yard, par-5 18th, which features the original Heard Ranch grain silos just right of the tee box and water and out of bounds left. A par there is a great finish to the round.

The Legacy Golf Resort: The verdict

The Legacy Golf Resort doesn't overwhelm golfers with its beauty; nor is it one of the most challenging courses golfers will find in the Valley. But what it does it does very well: It's an enjoyable 18 holes that's always in immaculate condition and doesn't cost a fortune.

In other words, it's the perfect place to play if the local muni is too easy and courses such as Troon North are too difficult or expensive.

Scott BordowScott Bordow, Contributor

Scott Bordow is the golf columnist for the Arizona Republic. Follow him on Twitter at @sbordow.

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