Turquoise Valley's Par 6 an Arizona Original

By Ryan Finley, Contributor

BISBEE, Ariz. - To Dick Atkinson, size does matter.

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A year ago, Turquoise Valley Golf Course's head professional had a choice to make. The course, under new ownership, wanted a unique course and, more specifically, a hole that could capture people's attention.

And he did.

"We need to compete for people's entertainment dollar," he said. "That's what the boss had in mind.

The brainchild of Atkinson, Turquoise Valley offers a par 6,727-yard hole. And it's getting longer.

"We're going to stretch it to 747 yards soon," he said. "The USGA has some regulations that we need to abide by.

It's not just the length of the course that drives people wild: there's some hazards, too. Five sand traps dot the course: two of them are referred to as "little rattlesnake eyes" surrounding the 6,000-foot green. A lake and a nasty dogleg line the monumentous hole.

For Atkinson, the 15th hole marks one of the rarest of holes: a par 6.

"I've played one in Oakland, Calif., and I've heard there's one in West Virginia," he said. "Aside from that, I don't think there's too many par sixes in America.

So how does somebody handle a hole like the 15th at Turquoise Valley.

According to Atkinson, relaxing is the first step to handling a hole with such length.

"A lot of people are intimidated at first," he said. "Sometimes they have the mentality that they're not able to handle it. A lot of people try to attack the hole to no avail.

Atkinson advises a relaxed approach to the hole.

"I like to tee of with an iron or fairway wood," he said. "There's a transition area of desert and cactus for me, I want to lay up short.

From there, he claims one should play it safe. "I like to play next one inside 200 yards and go across the lake," from there, we have a few traps to overcome. If you play it safe, you have a good shot at making it under par.

With luck, Atkinson is confident that one could even shoot an eagle. "It's possible if it's played right," he said.

Ryan Finley, Contributor

A sophomore majoring in journalism at the University of Arizona, Ryan is the volleyball beat writer for the Arizona Daily Wildcat, the student voice of the U of A.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • par six hole

    dick atkinson wrote on: Mar 25, 2008

    actually, the par-6 was owner Pete Lawson's idea, and an excellent one. He appointed me his architect, but Pete and I collaborated on the new nine, which opened on his brother's birthday in 1999.