Legacy Golf Club: Perfect location for a near-perfect course

By Dave Williams, Contributor

Chip Shots: Driving into the Legacy Golf Club in South Phoenix you wouldn't realize the history that surrounds the 280-acre property where the valley's newest golf resort is located. It's been 10 years since the last golf resort was built and the wait was well worth it.

The Legacy Golf Club consists of an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Gary Panks, 328 suites with kitchens, practice facility, pool, fitness center, and tennis court. Panks also designed the Raven Golf Course and Grayhawk Golf Club in Phoenix. The history of the land explains why the resort was named "Legacy".

PHOENIX - The Legacy Golf Clubis part of what used to be a 6,000-plus acre ranch owned by Dwight B. Heard. After coming to Arizona in 1895 and purchasing the property, he brought some of the newest plant life to Arizona, that is now common to the state. He built houses for his workers, purchased the Arizona Republic newspaper, and became a respected business and civic leader.

When Phoenix continued to proper and grow, Heard's property dwindled. He sold out all but the 280-acre parcel where the Legacy Golf Club is located. With the history in mind, let's play the golf course that will host the 2000 Ping Register LPGA tournament.

As you drive onto the property, you first will notice construction of a new home community in progress. The villas next come into view, leading you to a fountain and the two story clubhouse. The clubhouse includes the well-stocked golf shop, a restaurant, and administrative offices for time share sales.

Needing to warm up or practice before your round is no problem. The practice facility has a 300 yard range, putting greens, practice bunkers, and chipping greens. The Legacy also hosts one of the John Jacobs Golf Schools.

The Legacy Golf Club is links style and very fair. However, if you find yourself in one or more of the deep fairway bunkers, you may want to play for a bogey. There is out of bounds on many of the holes, but most of the holes have plenty of room to hit your drive. The first hole has two of those deep fairway bunkers. Once you find the fairway, your approach shot to the par four is to an elevated two-tiered green. The greens are average size, but if you get on the wrong level, you will be thankful for a two-putt.

A few of the fairways, such as Hole 2 may leave you with a downhill lie, making club selection on your approach shot more important. Fortunately, the majority of the holes are open in front. Even though they are elevated greens, the ball can bounce up and leave you with a putt. A shorter, 352 yard par 4 third hole does have a tight out of bounds on the right and left. But a good drive will leave you with a short iron.

Your first par three, number 4, is 167 yards with a front bunkered downhill green. Good opportunity to pick up a stroke. Number 6 is your first par five, playing 548 yards. The fairway is downhill, dogleg left. The dogleg is guarded by a large fairway bunker. The long hitters may want to try and clear the bunker, but the drive must travel more than 265 yards if you play the middle tees. The green is uphill and again has two tiers.

Number 7 is a short par 3, but the two-tiered elevated green is surrounded by five bunkers. A par is a good score. An undulating fairway is next on the par 5 eighth hole. Although it's 528 yards in length, your second shot will depend on your lie in the fairway. Your front nine finishes with a 418 yard par four. A drive to the right of the fairway or left will find a fairway bunker that leaves you with just a shot in the fairway with hopes of a close third shot to the high elevated green. A par is a good score.

The back nine starts with a chance to pick up some strokes. Number 10 is a straight par four to a relatively flat green. Number 11 is a 159 yard par 3, bunker on the left and a deep grass depression on the right. Hit the right tier and you have a birdie putt.

Hopefully you got your birdie, because your next hole is a 431 yard par four, with water in the front of the tee box. The water shouldn't come into play, but may distract you into making a poor drive into one of the fairway bunkers. An elevated green awaits your approach shot.

Water may come into play on the par five 14th hole. The drive is blind uphill. You will need a very strong drive to try and reach the green in two. Whether it's your second or third shot, a pull to the left will find water. You must hit over that same water on the next hole. The 133 yard par 3 is protected by water and a bunker in front and is uphill. Miss the green in the back or to the sides, and you will have a difficult chip to make your par.

Your three finishing holes are memorable. The 16th hole is a par 4. A fairway bunker stretches to the middle of the fairway. You may want to lay up on this 363 yard hole to keep the bunker out of play. You'll have an undulating elevated green to hit for your birdie put. It might be better to be short than long on the 17th par 3. Depending on the pin placement, the hole plays 189 yards.

Only a short left shot will find a bunker. A long shot leaves a chip onto an undulating green, making a par difficult. If you bogey, you can pick up a stroke on the final hole. The 490 yard par 5 18th is reachable, even though the green is slightly elevated. A good drive will leave you 220 yards and you can finish with an eagle or a birdie.

Don't forget to notice the two concrete silos on the right side of the fairway. These silos remain from the days when the property was owned by Dwight B. Heard, as part of his ranch.

After you play, relax in the grill with beverage or food. There are golf packages available at the Legacy Golf Club. The villas are time-shares, but available for single night or extended stay. Your are minutes from downtown Phoenix, Bank One Ballpark, theaters, and other activities offered throughout the year.

When the LPGA decided to bring their 2000 tournament to The Legacy Golf Club, it spoke volumes for the quality of the golf course and the resort's amenities. Play it and you will know why it was chosen by the LPGA.

How to get there: From Phoenix, take Interstate 10 east to and take the Baseline exit. Go west and turn right (North) on 32nd Street. The resort will be on the left hand side. It's in an area that is seeing new development. Just to the east is the Raven Golf Course with new housing being built there as well.

Dave Williams, Contributor

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