ASU Karsten Golf Course: A True Sun Devil Masterpiece
TEMPE, AZ - When famous golf course architect Pete Dye was first introduced to the land in the late 1980's, he said it was the worst piece of land he had ever had to work with. The fact that it was formerly used as a junk yard might have had something to do with it.
But the man who designed the TPC at Sawgrass and the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, to name a couple, didn't let anyone down when creating another masterpiece right next to the Arizona State University campus in Tempe.
The course opened in 1989 and features a very challenging layout, especially for those who choose to play it from the tips, which measures a little over 7,000 yards.
Although the championship tees are only recommended for professionals and very accomplished amateurs such as the members of the ASU golf team, the Karsten course offers five different tee boxes per hole allowing every category of player to enjoy their round.
Although the course demands accuracy off the tee, the real challenge begins when you attempt your approach shots. Mounds surround most of the fairways which actually help more than hurt, as they (most of the time) bring back astray shots back to the proper fairway.
However, most of the greens at Karsten are very small and a lot of them kidney shaped which makes them very hard to hold if you're hitting anything more than a mid iron.
The front nine has a pretty good blend of tough and easy holes. The only thing I didn't like was the two consecutive par 3's (#6 and #7) running parallel to each other. In my opinion, you should always try to avoid having two par 3's in a row, not just from a design point of view, but it doesn't exactly promote a fast pace of play.
The back nine also has a great variety of holes, although it doesn't start to get really interesting until the 16th. The par 3 is a typical Pete Dye design. With water both short and right of this monstrous 175 yard (from the regular tees), you either hit a great shot or face disaster. Granted there is some bail out room to the left, but chances of avoiding a deep bunker if choosing this option are not great.
A friend of mine played in the U.S. Open qualifier here last year. Having played the first 15 holes in 3 under par and in good shape to have a chance for advancement, he put a ball in the water at 16 and made triple bogey.
I don't know how many rounds have been ruined here but given the difficulty of the hole, combined with being late in the round, I imagine it has the same affect on players as the famous 17th island green at the TPC at Sawgrass.
It's easy to understand why the Karsten course is so well liked by the public. Not only do they offer great rates year around but guests are treated extremely well by a courteous and helpful staff both in the shop and outside.
"Our low rates, availability, and proximity to the airport are all contributing factors to our popularity" says Mike Bergman, Assistant Pro at Karsten.
I imagine that having a 20 acre practice facility doesn't hurt either. It features a driving range, practice green for pitching, chipping and bunker shots, along with a huge putting green located right in front of the Sun Angel Clubhouse.
The clubhouse, a 21,000 square foot facility, was ranked as one of the top 100 by The Golf Shop Operations Magazine and contains everything imaginable with the ASU logo and lots of other stuff. Adjacent to the shop is the Trophy room Restaurant used for breakfasts, lunches and private events.
Last but not least, I'd like to mention the rates. Of all the great things, probably the main reason why Karsten is worth a visit. This time of year, the rates are understandably at their highest, yet a mere $65 dollars for guest and $20 if you're an ASU student.
This also includes a complimentary sleeve of golf balls for guests. During the summer the rates drop to $25 for guests and $9 for students.
ASU Karsten Golf Course
1125 E. Rio Salado Parkway
Tempe, AZ, 85281
July 23, 2001