Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club in Apache Junction offers 36 holes of golf paradise that's now open to the public
APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. -- Start with "amazing" and work your way through the alphabet of adjectives, and you'll find one for every letter when it comes to the challenges of taking on the 36 holes at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club.
Legendary player/course designer Jack Nicklaus has sculpted the two golf courses into the foot of the Superstition Mountains. The Prospector Course and the Lost Gold Course both offer amazing traditional golf layouts on the course and world-class amenities off the course. It's one of those golf resorts that must be seen -- and played -- to be believed.
Meticulous doesn't begin to describe the conditioning, and the staff is there to handle your every need. No details have been overlooked.
This once-private golf course is now open -- for a time -- to the public. Here's your chance to be pampered and play two golf courses that have tested the best players in the world.
Superstition Mountain's Prospector Course
The Prospector Course at Superstition Mountain, reaching 7,225 yards from the tips, played host to the first round in the recent 2010 Xona Golf Media Classic. Driving up to the club, it's easy to see why it has been the site of big-time events such as the 2002 Countrywide Tradition Tournament and the home of the LPGA's Safeway International from 2004-08. While the course features great views and challenging shots, there are two main factors that will take your breath away: the generous fairways and the lightning-quick greens, which run as true as any you'll find.
"We like to keep them about 12.5 or 13 [on the stimpmeter]," said Pat Tyson, director of golf at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club. "It's not very often players get the chance to putt greens like these. It gives them a sense of what the pros get out on tour." It takes awhile to get the feel for how smooth they are, but once you get the speed down, you'll know the kind of conditions the pros putt on every week.
The par 3s, all of which play long (from 184 yards to 246 yards), are as challenging as any you'll find. Be patient and take aim for the center of the green. Avoiding the many bunkers here is also the key to scoring well. Many of them guard the front of greens, and most of them are very deep.
"It's a half-shot penalty for sure when you get in some of these bunkers," Tyson said. "You can advance the ball but you won't get it to the green. They are truly hazards. Keeping it in the fairway is very important."
One of the most impressive holes is the par-5 18th. The 553-yard beauty features a lake running down the entire left side. On the right are more bunkers, so splitting the fairway is a must. Getting home in two is a risky proposition with that lake to the left and more bunkering around the green. Lay up to 100 yards, and take your chances with your wedge to set yourself up with a birdie putt.
Superstition Mountain's Lost Gold Course
If you're coming out to Superstition Mountain, it would be a shame to take on just one course, so plan on tackling the Lost Gold Course as well. Nicklaus says it best: "Generous fairways, strategic bunker placement, dramatic mountain setting. Lost Gold has it all."
In fact, this one is "lost" in name only. Once you've played it, you'll have "found" another gem that you'll want to play again.
Nicklaus teamed up with son Jack Jr. to design these 18 holes. It's definitely a links-style course, so accuracy is at a premium. Smaller greens make approaches key to scoring well, and those bunkers are placed -- you guessed it -- strategically to catch shots that just miss the target.
"The biggest difference in this course is the second shot," Tyson said. "You can't short-side yourself. You've got to give yourself a good angle into the green."
Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club: The clubhouse
Covering more than 50,000 square feet, Superstition Mountain's clubhouse is dripping with sophistication. It's one of those places where you feel like you should remove your shoes before stepping into the front doors. The hallways in the clubhouse lead to rooms filled with elegant leather chairs. You can melt away as you relax in the restaurant, the bar or the private dining room with food fare that features flavors and choices that will satisfy everyone in your group.
"This is just a great facility," Tyson said. "You've got the drive in and pull up to the amazing clubhouse ... it's just so well built. Then you walk out to the range and have the mountains in the background. It's perfect."
Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club: The verdict
Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club is one of those places that players have seen during golf events and say: "You know, we should play that course." Well, now's the time while the courses are open to public play. How long will before they go private again? You don't want to lose out on your chance to play the Prospector and Lost Gold courses.
"Our goal is to go back to private," Tyson said. "But for now we're allowing the public to enjoy the facility, and we are happy to have them. Our vision hasn't changed ... just the road to get there is a little different than at the beginning."
December 14, 2010