Palm Valley Golf Club in Goodyear: An inspiring course for beginners
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- A few months ago, the only Palm Valley Golf Course I knew of was in Palm Springs. Well the name represents not one, but two golf treasures. The Palm Valley Golf Club of Arizona, sits about 30 minutes west of Phoenix in an up-and-coming city called Goodyear.
When driving from the capital west on I-10, you might be skeptical that anything, especially a golf course, could exist between your car and Blythe. After leaving the city behind and your eyes catching nothing but desert in front of them, you begin to make out something in the distance ... a mirage refusing to disappear the closer you get. You start to see restaurants and stores.
After exiting at Litchfield and turning right, you will encounter a golf sanctuary like no other in the state. Palm trees line the street and plush grass starts to twinkle just a few blocks away. The oasis community has two 18-hole courses. One, a Hale Irwin mid-length course with a par of 62 and the other an Arthur Hills championship course with a par of 72. Travelers will also find a junior pitch 'n putt and a lighted driving range facility.
The Arthur Hill championship course, plays 7,015 yards from the back tees up to 5,300 yards at the front. Palm Valley also offers junior tees which play at 4,200 yards. Palm Valley caters to both beginning and advance players. The flat course only grips one hole with water for golfers to stumble upon.
"This is a great course for the beginning player, who's just looking for three hours of fun," said Cody Gooden, head golf professional.
Instead of a typical desert course with rough desert terrain surrounding the fairways and greens, golfers find what some call transition areas; large shallow patches of firm sand await you on almost every hole. While they might cause tension at first, you soon learn they play like almost any other shot off the fairway, and much easier to hit out of than sand or thick rough.
These transition areas make golf more enjoyable for the beginning player. They will not get frustrated looking for their ball or grow tired of re-hitting shots. Unless the one hole with water trips you up, you will play with the same ball all day. For some, like me, this is a change. The forgiving course stretches wide open.
While the facilities at Palm Valley G.C. entertain golfers of all ages and the two courses provide hours of enjoyment, the 18 holes of the Arthur Hill course do not differ extensively. After the first few holes, the course starts to bore both the professional and amateur golfer. Although the course physically connects with the beginning player, it lacks a romantic ambiance to fall in love with. The gloomy area hugging the course, does not appear to be the same flourishing area you see driving up to the clubhouse.
The front nine offers mostly a plain desert view, and through the back nine you only see the construction of several homes. An adobe apartment complex does catch an eye while winding down on holes 16, 17 and 18. If you want to keep that oasis feel, keep your eyes on the course. The palm trees stand tall and the grass plush. With only one hole carrying water in the entire layout, the extrinsic course surroundings need to be fabulous to hold attention.
Amateur golfers need more of a setting and diverse design to make an outing memorable, and advanced players look for new and different obstacles to toy with. However, Gooden says this course is not a walk in the park.
"I think the course can be very challenging," Gooden said. "If the wind is blowing, the par 5s can be extremely long."
The one hole with water, the only memorable hole on the course, is Palm Valley's signature hole, number nine. It's also one of most difficult. The par 5 starts with a wide-open fairway, but the hole deals a bad hand for your second shot. The fairway narrows and water sits on the left-hand side with a lank tree line on the right.
From there, the approach can be straining if the pin stands at the back of the green that day. Almost like a triangle, the fat front of the two tiered green produces a skinny back, making the third shot tricky. The water swims right up to the back left side of the green, philandering with balls hit too long. What seems like an easy hole at first, can become a disastrous end to the front.
The surrounding area of Palm Valley provides a place for a community. Much like at a country club, people come to the course for more than just golf. The clubhouse hops with excitement on the weekends. Long after the pro shop closes, people from the area arrive at the course for dinner.
The menu is not extensive, but the food is delicious and the atmosphere engaging. The facility also offers a wide variety of events. You can host everything from a wedding ceremony or elegant reception to a casual business event. The main pavilion, which is 5,000 square feet, overlooks the 18th green on the Arthur Hill course, providing a fantastic view of the course's signature hole.
"The facility provides an atmosphere for both golfers and people looking to throw a wedding or Christmas party," Gooden said.
The fairway and green conditions at Palm Valley soar above many public courses. If you're heading out of town and need a break before making the torturing trip through the desert, or you're just looking for a different course off the beaten path, Palm Valley delivers exactly what Gooden offers: hours of fun.