East Valley Bargains: Where to Play - Apache Creek Golf Course
APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. - When my regular Phoenix playing partner recommended that we play the Apache Creek Golf Course in Apache Junction as the closing round of our 36-hole East Valley golf binge, I was a bit confused. Not because I didn't like the golf course. Just because that not being a local, I had never heard of it.
With all the top shelf courses in the Valley of the Sun, the special hidden gems that only locals know about can become, well, just that. Admittedly, I was a bit apprehensive as we rolled up to a "Club House" that looked more like your local Moose Lodge Trailer. But as soon as you get on the east side of the Moose Lodge, all fears are put to rest.
Sure, there is the occasional pull cart and tank top. But there is also a generous driving range, a well maintained putting and chipping green, and a golf course that is one of the best values in all the East Valley.
That being said, Alsip did a spectacular job of taking a conservative approach to course design. Apache Creek is a course that offers up few obstacles for the lower handicappers, and manageable trouble for the high handicapper.
For example, some of the forced carries from the blue tees are gargantuan. However, these chasms are essentially waste bunkers with a few Creosote bushes that actually leave the ball in play. A player that can continually pick the ball out of the waste bunkers will find plenty of chances are par saves.
The Apache Creek Golf Club literature describes the course as a "turf-style desert course with transitional areas framing the fairways, making accurate tee shots an absolute must if you want to see negative numbers on your scorecard."
Let's break down these words of wisdom from the local course prose. Negative numbers are something about one out of ten golfers experience on a daily basis, but Apache Creek just may be the place to pick up a few strokes against par.
Accurate tee shots are great on any course, but Apache Creek's wide fairways provide plenty of room for error. Greens are described in the course literature as being to small to medium in size, but are actually medium to large in reality and actually hold approach shots fairly well, despite their summertime Bermuda buzz cuts.
For the most part, bunkers don't frequently come into play at Apache Creek for good golfers, but could pose a bit of a nuisance to the higher handicapper or hacker.
The most exciting hole on the front nine has to be the par 5, 529 yard 5th Hole - a double dog leg with water in play on the approach shot. A single Palo Verde sits in the middle of the fairway, and serves as an excellent point of reference on the tee shot. Aim to the left of the tree to set yourself up for a second shot that keeps the water out of play.
Getting on in two from the back tees is almost impossible with the prevailing winds in Apache Junction. Instead, employ a little course management on this hole and lay-up on the second shot, leaving a very manageable wedge shot to the green.
The 10th Hole may be the surprise hole of the course. If you are driving in from the east, the par 5, 557 yard 10th parallels the freeway, and looks totally unspectacular.
However, once you get down on the course and look out over the hole from the tee box, it becomes blatantly obvious that a quick "drive-by" does the hole no justice. As the longest hole at Apache Creek, the 10th is a veritable runway of Bermuda grass that ultimately leads to a sufficiently challenging green.
Apache Creek winds up with an outstanding finishing hole that would get kudos even if it had been designed by one of the big name course architects. An extreme dog leg left with nothing but waste bunker to the left, a very astute play, as my playing partner found, is to hit a fade off the tee right at the corner of the desert. This uncanny play will yield an approach shot that is a good piece from being home, but no where near the waste bunker.