Five-star Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia in Peoria: Just as nice, half the price
PEORIA, Ariz. - Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia is one of those golf courses that's sneaky good. You really don't start to appreciate it fully until you drive away from it.
That's when you realize you can remember most holes, that it flowed well and that it's different from most golf courses in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. The green fees here don't break the bank either (guests can play Trilogy at Vistancia for about half of what is charged at some of the premium golf courses in Scottsdale).
Trilogy at Vistancia really isn't desert golf. It isn't quite links golf either, but it has more a feel of the latter than the former. Opened in 2004, the golf course was designed by Scottsdale-based architect Gary Panks, who has nearly three-dozen Arizona golf courses to his credit, including Grayhawk's Talon Course and the two courses at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler.
"It is more of a links course than a desert course," said Jack LaRue, a PGA member and director of sales and marketing for Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia. "A links course offers a lot more options than the desert target courses that are so prevalent in Arizona."
Here, you'll find blue gamma, weeping love and sand drop grasses providing the contrast to green fairways and more than 70 bunkers. Panks apparently drew his inspiration for the grasses from a hunting trip he took in southeast Arizona.
From the tee, you see rolling fairways separated by these grasses and bunkers with palm trees on the edges, taking away much of the desert feel.
Each hole presents various options off the tee and plenty of obstacles to navigate, including water on nearly a third of the holes. Some holes are very difficult, others with risk-reward opportunities, and there are a couple breathers as well.
"I always test a course by asking myself: 'If I was a member here, would I get bored of this golf course?'" LaRue said. "The answer for Trilogy is a resounding 'no.' There is a lot of excitement and decision making on this course. The wind, tee locations and hole locations can make it play quite a bit different from day to day."
Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia earns 5-star rating
Going in, I knew Golf Digest had given Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia its coveted 5-Star rating, so my expectations were high. With a 5-star rating, you expect to be blown away, like you would be at other 5-Star courses such as Bandon and Pacific Dunes in Bandon, Ore., Pebble Beach Golf Links, Bethpage Black in New York or Whistling Straits in Koehler, Wis.
Trilogy at Vistancia is just one of 23 courses across the country and the only one in Arizona to receive the magazine's honor, which was determined by combining the opinions of official Golf Digest raters with feedback from the general public on Golf Digest's Web site. The magazine defines the 5-Star rating as "Superb. Golf at its absolute best. Pay any price to play at least once in your life."
You'll have to play the course to see if you agree with the lofty ranking, but as stated earlier, it's all about the flow and quality of the holes here.
By the time you get to the third, you're already at the No. 1 handicap hole on this 7,291-yard par 72.
At 416 yards, 3-wood is probably the play on this dogleg left par 4, where the fairway runs out at about 270 yards. From there, your view of this elongated green is partially obstructed by native grass and an arroyo. Anything on the putting surface is a victory.
On the back nine, the 487-yard par-4 13th is the course's No. 2 handicap. As if length alone wasn't enough challenge, there are large fairway bunkers from 266 to 314 yards off the tee. Par here is like making birdie.
The golf course also has a nice variety of par 3s and par 5s.
The 12th, at 208 yards, is part of a really nice stretch of holes to open the back nine. The multi-tiered greens complex has three bunkers on the left and a collection area in front and to the right, making for some interesting up-and-down opportunities.
The par 5s range from approximately 500 yards to more than 600 from the tips. At 509 yards, the ninth is a birdie or eagle opportunity. The 564-yard 14th, with a lake in play on the layup shot, makes for a challenging par. And the 608-yard fifth requires three solid shots.
The finishing hole, at 560 yards, is a good opportunity to end with a bang but at considerable more risk. There is water all down the right side and plenty of greenside bunkers to catch errant approach shots.
Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia: The verdict
Here's what I like about Trilogy Golf Club: It's different from any other golf course I've played in Arizona, the holes are memorable and they flow together well. Oh yeah, the conditioning, especially with a heavy winter overseed, is pretty good, too.
The course, with five sets of tees, is also very playable for all levels of player. Going low can be a challenge, though, especially with some of the potential pin placements on these undulating greens.
There really wasn't anything not to like about Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia. Would it have been better without homes around it? Yes, but that's a little unrealistic, especially considering the green fees (about $100 or less during peak season). Plus the homes do not really come into play.
There's also a program in place that rewards golfers who reserve tee times early with lower green fees.
Players can warm up on a large grass range with plenty of visible targets. There are also large putting and chipping greens as well as practice bunkers.
Individual lessons are available from the facility's professional staff.
Guests can also enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at the Verde Grill located inside the 11,000-square-foot clubhouse. Featuring a mix of contemporary and eclectic dishes, Verde Grill is a great place to watch players or a sunset while getting a bite to eat.
Getting to Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia
The course is about 45 minutes north of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. From Loop 101 and I-17, take Loop 101 west to 75th Avenue. Head north on 75th Ave to Deer Valley Road and go west on Deer Valley Road to 99th Avenue (Lake Pleasant Road). Head north on Lake Pleasant Road to Happy Valley Parkway. Go west on Happy Valley approximately five miles. The entrance to the golf club is on the left.
March 16, 2009