Phantom Horse Golf Club on South Mountain: A Different Kind of Desert Golfing Experience

By Kelly A. Saul, Contributor

What do you get when you put a lavish resort in the middle of a city, add a golf course, tennis club, health spa, and a variety of different restaurants where hungry guests can enjoy the company of a real live bull? What you would get is The Pointe South Mountain Resort.

"Guests are right in town, with the sense of being out away from things in the South Mountain Preserve," said head golf professional Van Demis.

The Phantom Horse Golf Course is built into the rocky slopes of South Mountain on the border of Phoenix and Tempe. The course is unique because it delivers two different styles of golf. "The front nine is traditional, with a links feel," said Demis. "The back nine is desert style, target golf. The front nine is kind of a warm up for the back, which is a lot less forgiving."

The course is short, only 6,211 yards from the back sets of tees. This favors golfers who might be intimidated by long holes. However, the course is not easy. The fairways are tight and misdirection can lead to disaster. Water is widely spread throughout the first nine holes, and desert gullies encompass all of the back nine.

While the course was rated in the Top 100 for Women by Lady Fairway a few years back, the par 5's become extremely difficult when the course changes direction on the back. Drastic changes in elevation force blind shots for both men and women. Black and white flags are posted to help navigate, however on this type of course, getting up and down on the short irons is critical, and can be very challenging.

The layout of the course is different from many others in the area. Many of the holes are unconventional with quirky twists, turns and slopes unraveling their danger as the round progresses. Each hole bares a different name representative of both the layout and the surrounding area.

One drawback of the layout is the close border between the first few holes and I-10. Number three rides right along side the interstate, while on the other side of the fairway water runs the same distance.

One unique feature on the front nine is its Western motif as golfers get to mosey on by the resort's horse coral. (Not a great place to go looking after any errant balls.) Golfers are asked to please yield to the horseback riders.

The fairways and greens are kept in superior shape. There are six sets of pin placements, and since some of the greens can be as quirky as the holes, approach shots can be tricky.

A small driving range was added just a few years ago to the property. Cayman balls, which go about half the distance of regular golf balls, are provided for golfers to warm up.

The addition was part of a major renovation that took place when the name of the course was changed to Phantom Horse. A new irrigation system was installed and tee boxes were changed, lengthening the course.

"We want to get people to come back out and try us again," said Demis. "We have new leadership and a new direction."

The luxurious pro shop is four floors above the bag drop, adjacent to a sports bar and grill overlooking the golf course, tennis courts and one of the many swimming pools. The building, along with the rest of the resort is done in peach stucco captivating the feel of a tropical setting along with dozens of palm trees and lush vegetation.

The Phantom Horse Grill is just one of the many restaurants in the 600 acre-resort. South Mountain features three other distinctive restaurants just steps away. Another Pointe In Tyme is the fanciest of the four located near the entrance. For Mexican cuisine, Aunt Chilada's can also be found near the entrance of the resort as well.

And finally Rustler's Rooste, high on the mountain, serves up cowboy cooking and live music, along with an unforgettable view of the city. People not only can take a slide down to their table, the floors are lined with sawdust and just outside a real live bull is ready to greet guests. This is truly a taste of Arizona and one of the most unique restaurants in town.

Just below the pro shop, guests can indulge in a full service spa. For unique recreation, the health club offers not only bicycle rentals, croquet and water aerobics classes, but also horseback ridding.

There are six swimming pool located throughout the resort, many of which are located in beautiful courtyards surrounded by suites where guests can enjoy the view from outside their front door. Rooms are located in one of three buildings spread throughout the resort: West Pointe Suites, East Pointe Suites and Mountainside Suites.

Over the next few months the hotel will begin to renovate their 640, already deluxe, suites. Representative of the spirit of the Arizona, the renovated hacienda-style suites will reflect the natural textures and relaxing tones of the desert.

Through the use of distinct patterns and dramatic touches of color, the Spanish colonial interiors will create a sophisticated and refined feeling. The fine furnishings, hand-carved art, talavera tile and other native accessories will bring to life the majestic Southwest.

The best part of this Pointe location, is accessibility to the best Phoenix has to offer. Just a few blocks from the entrance of the resort is Arizona Mills Outlet Mall. One step inside this mammoth shopping haven, guests will feel like they are entering Disneyland, with Alice in Wonderland type décor.

Here, guests can enjoy luxury cinemas, endless shopping and even more restaurants to chose from such as: The Rainforest Café, Bennigans, The Rusty Pelican and Alcatraz. For those who enjoy Krispy Kreme doughnuts, outside the mall is one of the three full service shops in town.

The hotel has extremely easy access to the freeway. To get to The Point at South Mountain from Sky Harbor Airport take the I-10 East towards Tucson and exit Baseline Road and turn right. The entrance of the resort will be on the left.

Kelly A. Saul, Contributor

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment