Prescott Lakes Golf Club: A New Calling No Golfer Can Resist
PRESCOTT, AZ - Just a short drive north from Phoenix can transport you to another world, or more specifically an excursion back to the 1800s when only Native Americans populated the land far out west. Bottom line, Prescott Lakes Golf Course enchants you. Under the present Kentucky Blue grass and deep beneath the desert rock, developers found petroglyphs; Visual symbols left behind by a culture sometimes forgotten.
To make the drive from Phoenix to Prescott, take I 17 North to 69 West, eventually heading North on 89. After venturing through the rolling hills, your car will automatically slam on its brakes at the glare to your left.
A magnificent entrance of waterfalls captivates you. It calls to you off the road. Your clubs will tingle with excitement. You just know the course is going to be good.
After turning left, you cruise up a hill where at the top you will be delighted with a panoramic view like no other in Prescott. Golden bluffs and refreshing blue lakes spread out as far as the eyes can reach. The colorful vista almost looks like a painting or scene from a postcard.
The once pristine valleys now thrive on the major development taking place. Driving up to the course and throughout play, you can see all the different construction sights. The area hasn't even begun to burst. But what is completed, is the golf course.
When you first pull up to the clubhouse, your first thought will be "Where is the real one?" Well, it's not built yet. A temporary structure has been set up until the completion of the final product.
The course is a Links course, blanketing twelve acres. Since the course covers so much area, each hole stands alone. The extreme color contrasts on the course sparkle in originality. The light brown from the course surroundings, make the fairways reflects the most brilliant green you ever set spikes on. The course has the feel of a desert course, but at the same time echoes something very different. Golfers will encounter no cactus like the target courses of Phoenix, but more rolling brush and rocky arroyos.
To preserve the remaining legacy, three-time US Open Champion Hale Irwin, designed a new course representative of the Native American heritage. Each hole offers six sets of tees, each named after a different animal. The back tees, Black Bear, play at 7,216 yards. Next up Cougar, Antelope, Coyote, and Jackrabbit. The front tees, Roadrunner, play at 4,724 yards. No matter what your level of play, a tee box anticipates your clubs. But wait, it gets better.
Each hole bares a different name. You'll tee off at Hunter, an extremely enjoyable Par 4, move on to Horned Toad and then come across Wind, a very punishing Par 5.
Petroglyph imprints of each animal mark every tee box. Golfers will also find replicas of many other original petroglyphs scattered throughout the course. Prescott Lakes is the most unique course I've ever had the pleasure of playing.
"You will remember all 18 holes," says Kurt Krause, Director of Golf at Prescott Lakes. Prescott Lakes challenges golfers. Almost every tee elevates you, which for most of us makes a course much more fun to play. But for some players, this can result in some painful bad club judgments. Besides the dangers of out-of-bounds play, if the wind blows ... beware.
"If the wind is blowing from the west, hole number 17 can be the most challenging of the day," Kurt Krause said. "If the wind is blowing out from the east, I think 7."
Hole 7, Bear Paw, is a par 3 with nothing but desert in between you and the green. A rocky bed hugs the front of the green, so a hard grounder will not cut it for those playing from one of the front tees. An aggressive shot to the pin from the back, is also risky depending where the pin position sits that day. Shots missed will roll right off into the desert abyss.
Hole 17, Abstract, doglegs left and sparks danger being the longest par 4 on the course; both because of the yardage, and because most times it plays into the wind. No bunkers lurk by the green but a lot more can go wrong than you think.
Difficulties lie on the banks of the fairway, which play the role of a vacuum. My advice, come prepared. The untainted desert shrubs will eat your golf balls for breakfast, so bring a lot of backups. Golfers must abide by the desert rules of play, which means you must abandon your ball if you miss-hit into the rough. While this rule seems fair at first, it will start to tweak at your nerves before you leave the front nine. The guilt rests on all our shoulders.
How many times have we all looked endlessly for a ball, because we "know" we saw it go out-of-bounds right here! It's a hard habit to break. My dad, for example, has been known to go into the bushes for what seems like an eternity and come out with about 10 balls that aren't even his own. My mom, of course, will get so annoyed she'll secretly start hitting them back when he's teeing off on the next hole.
Water comes into play only twice on the front nine, on holes two and three. Golfers mostly need to be wary of keeping the ball in play. On the back nine five different holes have water, which creates some of the most beautiful moments on the course. Hole 11, named Seer, is a sharp dogleg left, with water sitting in the back of the green. The green almost shoots out into the lake, generating almost an island effect.
This is also Krause's favorite hole, because it's a decision hole. Do you play it safe and aim for the left front of the green leaving yourself a long putt, or do you shoot for the pin flirting with the water in back?
No matter what you shoot, the golfing experience at Prescott Lakes will send you home with nothing but enjoyable memories of Northern Arizona's peak into the ancient times of the west.
Rates are very affordable, considering the luxury quality of play. During the summer golfers pay $77, and in the winter $45 Monday through Friday and $55 on the weekends. Twilight fees start after noon. Since Prescott sits at an elevation of over 5,400 feet above sea level and neighbors northern cities such as Sedona and Flagstaff, the peak season is opposite of Phoenix. Months when you want to escape the heat or high Phoenix prices, drive up to Prescott to enjoy a much cooler climate during the summer and more reasonable prices in the winter.
Prescott Lakes also offers what they call a links membership. Initial fee of $30,000 and monthly fee of $375 after the clubhouse is built, will get you complimentary green fees (excluding golf cars), use of private member clubhouse, 30 day advance tee times, and 20 percent off retail items in golf shop.