Pointe Golf Club on Lookout Mountain in Phoenix offers desert-style and traditional golf

By Brian Bujdos, Contributor

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Desert golf and wide-open fairways may not belong in the same sentence, let alone on the same golf course. But this contradiction of terms is not only true of Pointe Golf Club on Lookout Mountain, it's indicative of what you'll find when you visit the north Phoenix gem -- a little bit of everything.

Pointe G.C. on Lookout Mountain - 18th
The finishing hole at Pointe Golf Club on Lookout Mountain is a good, risk-reward par 5 over water.
Pointe G.C. on Lookout Mountain - 18thPointe GC on Lookout Mountain - 11th
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Set throughout the rolling hills in and around the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, here's a challenge that could provide you with one of your most frustrating golf experiences ever, but if you're not against hitting it straight off the tee, you'll find a course that's more than fair, and actually quite rewarding.

Head Professional Brett Trenter says the course can be split into three six-hole segments -- wide-open, desert golf, and a combination of both -- and this writer nods in agreement. Standing on the first tee, you'd have to hit it backward for an unfavorable outcome. Water on the right is not in play, and a slope that extends down the entire left side of the par-4 extends around the back of the green, bringing errant shots back toward your feet, albeit not all the way.

Most holes on this dynamic course play fairly straight from tee to green, and those that do not provide doglegs more the variety of bananas, not boomerangs. Small alleys through which to carve your shot are non-existent; instead carries over predominantly unplayable desert brush are the norm.

The second hole fits this mold, a par-5 that is a dogleg right, a hole that like most of the others is easily navigable, providing danger down only one side -- in this case the left, with two bunkers and a bevy of trees and scrub.

Ease your way through the next three holes, all of which play to a par equaling the actual hole number. The par-5s at Lookout Mountain are all reachable for anyone who plays the appropriate shot and tee. Although, No. 5 does challenge most golfers with a bunker squarely in front of the green. On this hole and this shortish course, take your risks from the fairway and not the tee -- direction is more important than distance with the driver.

Enjoy the sixth hole, perhaps the last of those that require little strategy and are relatively harmless. After a steep climb to the seventh tee, all the fun begins.

Amazingly enough, it seems the trek from every green to the next tee involves a climb, and therefore just about every hole plays downhill.

"I never really thought of that before," Trenter says, "but you're right. The only hole that really plays noticeably uphill is 13."

Perhaps it's no coincidence that Pointe Golf Club's seventh hole plays sharply downhill, as it often may signify the place where scores start heading in the same direction. This par 5 makes you think on every shot: go for it in two, or play into a generous lay-up area right? Don't be short, or your ball may actually trickle all the way to your feet -- below an elevated green.

The course conditions at Lookout Mountain are plush to say the least.

"The thing we try to sell here is service and surface," Trenter said. "Our course is noted for its maintenance and for being in spectacular shape year-round."

The greens are no exception, as most are spacious, all roll true, and there are not too many sharp double-breakers to be found.

No. 8 is a short par-4 with a big dropoff the tee to a rare narrow landing area, and No. 9 is a very short 125-yard par-3 that will suck any mis-hits down and into the ravine in front of the back-to-front sloping green.

Pointe Golf Club's 10th is the best hole on the course, a drop of 175 feet off the tee. Greenside bunkers await your approach to this stellar par-4. The next two holes round out the middle six desert-style golf holes. Just judge your distance with a mid-iron on the par-3 11th hole and you'll be fine, and be sure not to overcook your drive into the par-4 12th, or you'll find the intermediate hazard area that guards the approach area to the green.

On the final six holes, finesse the short 13th and prepare for the worst on No. 14 if you try to drive the green and miss this par-4. Again, fairways are your friend at Lookout Mountain. Middle-range handicaps will find it challenging enough to get into perfect position for their sand wedge to the green on No. 14, a hole with plenty of personality.

Water, and any existing wind, come into play on the exciting 15th and 16th holes, a par-5 and par-3, respectively. Don't miss left on 15 and don't miss at all on the narrow 16th green, or you bring bogey or worse into play. All you need are flip-flops, a big umbrella, and maybe some SPF 45 here, because all this sand and water are akin to a beach.

No. 17 provides a return to the over-expansive landing areas of the early front nine, with a few more bunkers spread throughout. And No. 18 is a par-5 that can make a hero out of the deft middle-iron player and a goat out of pretty much anyone, at least anyone capable of misfiring a middle to long-iron shot into the water that guards the front and back of this narrow green. Miss left on the approach and birdie is still a possibility. As the ancient proverb says: Man with bad iron most likely lose his shirt.

Brian Bujdos, Contributor

Brian Bujdos is a native of Pittsburgh, Penn., a graduate of Syracuse University and a resident of Scottsdale, Ariz. Formerly a sportswriter for the Albuquerque Tribune and an associate editor for the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks, he is currently the communications manager for the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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