Views, tricky greens make Phoenix's Pointe Golf Club on Lookout Mountain a worthy test
PHOENIX - The regulars know what treachery lies a few hundred yards from the clubhouse of Pointe Golf Club on Lookout Mountain. Stay below the hole, they tell you, if you don't want to three- or four-putt. Other than that, have fun - there are lots of great views, plenty of fairway and nice playing conditions.
That's basically the lowdown on the golf at Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort. Built in 1989, the golf course was originally targeted for the PGA Tour. There's a plaque on the 18th hole to commemorate the Skills Challenge formerly played at the site. But for the most part, Pointe Golf Club on Lookout Mountain thrives in an atmosphere of relative anonymity outside of the Phoenix-Scottsdale area.
The locals know it, though. They know about the challenging greens on this Bill Johnston design. For instance, if you get above the pin on the golf course's shortest hole - a little, 100-yard par-3 that plays over an arroyo - you'll be lucky to make bogey because of the front-to-back slope.
They also know about the view on the par-4 10th, where the tee perches about 175 feet above the fairway. From there, you've got a great shot of Lookout Mountain and Squaw Peak as the course winds up and down to a terrific ending.
Pointe Golf Club on Lookout Mountain: Two courses in one
The golf course is somewhat detached from the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort. Once you check into the golf shop, it's about a half-mile cart ride past the horse stables of local sheriff to the first tee.
Play starts with a rather benign, 350-yard par 4, followed by a few fairly long but straightforward holes, so don't let the overall yardage fool you on this 6,600-yard par 71.
From the back tees, the second is a 475-yard par 4; the fourth is 461 yards; and the sixth is a 248-yard par 3. These holes have length, but they're not too tricky.
By the time you get to the seventh, the terrain starts to change. Gone are the subtle elevation variances, and you're thankful for that cart. Steep climbs lead to great views, but the fairways begin to narrow.
No. 11 is a picturesque par 3 that sets up a nice series of holes to the finish. The last few, including the par-3 16th, bring a good bit of water into play. The 18th, a reachable, 512-yard par 5, features a semi-island green, complete with refreshing fountains.
Pointe Golf Club on Lookout Mountain: Practice facilities and lessons
Pointe Golf Club on Lookout Mountain headquarters the Hilton Golf Academy, which opened in 1989 under the direction of Jerramy Hainline, who also serves as corporate director of golf sales and marketing for Hilton Golf.
The Academy, with locations in Phoenix; Tucson; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and Santa Fe, N.M., offers an array of lesson packages for guests of the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort.
The practice area, remodeled in 2006, includes a new bunker with its own pitching green and a separate chipping and putting green. There is also a large driving range.
The four-diamond Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort offers a variety of stay-and-play golf packages for visitors who just want to play golf. The Spanish Mediterranean-designed resort recently underwent a renovation that included its 584 all-suite accommodations.
Pointe Golf Club on Lookout Mountain: The verdict
Pointe Golf Club on Lookout Mountain doesn't receive the publicity of many Scottsdale golf courses, but it's a solid choice.
As the round builds, the golf course turns more and more impressive. Once you get to the halfway house before the 10th tee, you know you're in for a memorable round of golf, having just played the seventh, eighth and ninth holes. The seventh is a reachable par 5 with an elevated tee that provides a good peak of the views and shot values to come.
Lookout Mountain represents a nice change of pace from other golf courses in the area. And if you can, try to play it twice. The first time around, the greens can be a bear. Downhill putts often roll surprisingly far beyond the hole. For help, just golf with a local.
January 13, 2010