Biltmore Country Club's 15th Hole

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

PHOENIX, AZ - Even in the golf saturated societies of Arizona, there is sometimes found the rare venerable course that pioneered the new golf frontier in this land of opportunity. Before new golf courses began springing up in Phoenix faster than new traffic signals, there once existed a few pristine tracks that gracefully anchored the golf landscape in the Valley of the Sun like a lonesome Saguaro on a jagged Mountainside.

Perhaps the granddaddy of all such anchors is the Arizona Biltmore Country Club. The Biltmore is at once the essence of "old school", and the excitement of the "new age" of golf. Director of Golf Peter Robbeloth is one of the biggest champions of the Biltmore's juxtaposition within the Phoenix golf scene.

"The Biltmore Resort and the Old Adobe Course were built back in 1930, when the city was miles away and the resort was on the fringe. Now the courses and the resort are enveloped by the city, and the Biltmore has become an urban oasis."

The Biltmore's Links Course opened in 1979, and the connection between the Adobe Course and the newer Links Course represents one of the truly unique spatial relationships in Arizona Golf. What does all that mean? In short, the old park-style Adobe Course is virtually surrounded by the newer links style - Links Course. It would take quite a golf hole to stand out in this smorgasbord of fine layouts. And quite a hole there is.

According to Robbeloth, the par-3 15th hole on the Links Course is not only the signature hole of the new course, but one of the great holes in all of Phoenix.

"The 15th offers a great test of accuracy, with six lakes and undulating fairways. It is no doubt the signature hole and reason enough to play the entire course."

Interested yet? Let's get inside the 15th.

The Hole: The par-3 15th hole at the Arizona Biltmore Country Club features Tifdwarf grass. The hole plays 185 yards from the tips, 162 from the regular tees, 160 yards from the forward tees

Architect: Bill Johnston

The Layout: Presents none other than the premier elevated tee box in the Valley. Says Robbeloth, "this hole is known as one of the most beautiful holes in the state. It has a spectacular view of Phoenix. Your tee shot rises into the backdrop of Camelback Mountain, and then drops down onto the green. There is a 360 degree view."

The Strategy: Is obviously to get onto the green on any par-3. But according to Robbeloth, "the difference on the 15th is in the selection of the club due to the elevation of the tee box. The key to the hole is club selection. It (club selection) has to be thought out for all levels of golfers. From the back tees, the tee box is elevated about 100 feet above the green. Distance factors into the shot, and the tee is set back to where there is a lot of desert environment you have to carry. The green is well trapped, with three greenside bunkers."

The Average Golfer: Should take club selection very seriously, just as a professional golfer that was playing this hole should. When in doubt, always take enough to carry the desert hazard.

Don't Play: A short shot under any circumstance. Leave your shot left or right - there are large landing areas provided around the green. Just don't select a club that is going to leave you short.

Play the Hole: Anytime of day. The views will dazzle you whether the sun is setting, rising, or just hanging out.

Inside the numbers: The hole is the 16th handicap hole on the Links Course, but golf associations rarely take club selection into consideration in their system.

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of from 1997 to 2003.

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