Silver Creek Golf Club: One of Arizona's Best

By Scott Behmer, Contributor

SHOW LOW, Ariz. - Designed in 1987 by renowned architect Gary Panks, Silver Creek Golf Club was promptly named "New Course of the Year" by The Arizona Republic. Its creative layout, superb condition, and challenging design has made it a constant on golf publications' top-10 lists. In fact, it's my favorite course. But don't take my word for it, see for yourself at only $35 for a round. And for that price, twice is nice.

Silver Creek Golf Club
The first hole at Silver Creek Golf Club has plenty of undulation.
Silver Creek Golf Club
If you go

One of Gary Panks' stellar accomplishments is that he has created a very challenging course measuring 6800 yards from the tips, the silver tees, while strategically positioning the other three tee boxes with less challenging approach angles.

It's a fair test for anyone who tees it up. This is one feature that makes Silver Creek the perfect course for Tucson's Ricki Rarick Junior Golf "Tournament of Champions." Girls and boys ages 12 to 17 can tee it up, be appropriately challenged, and have a great experience. After the tournament, to a player they rave about the fun of playing this excellent course.

Before heading out for your round be sure to take advantage of the top-notch practice facilities. There's a large driving range with distances marked every 50 yards. For short game practice, head to the opposite side of the clubhouse and hit wedges from up to 75 yards out to two different greens. There are three bunkers as well as chipping opportunities similar to what you'll encounter on the course.

One shot that should be practiced is Tiger Woods' putted three-wood. The short-cut fringes make it ideal for his favorite shot. Finally, the practice green will help you acclimate to the pure, slick surfaces that would petrify Tom Watson.

The front nine gently works the player into form with an open 530-yard par 5. Then, with each passing hole, the tee shots become more demanding and the greens are more protected.

One of Silver Creek's most picturesque holes is the par 3, 130-yard #4. A placid lake lies in front of the green ready to swallow any shot that lands short or spins off the putting surface. Also, bunkers left and right provide definition to the left-to-right diagonal green. In the background is a two-story house and the baby-blue sky as backdrop. It's a beautiful hole in addition to being a very difficult short par 3.

One stretch on which you can make up some strokes is #9 through #11. #9 is a dogleg left par 5 with Silver Creek Lake to the left. With a long drive, on your second shot you can carry the marsh that crosses the fairway at 50 yards and the ball will scamper up for an eagle putt. #10 is a 400-yard par 4 with a blind tee shot. Hit it in the fairway and you'll have a green light special for birdie.

Finally, #11 is a 360-yard, dogleg left par 4. The tight fairway is lined with trees and a right side bunker at the dogleg. The ultimate play is to hit it over the dry lake bed that extends about 280 yards out. Carry it and you'll have a certain birdie. Land in the lake bed and it's just a routine hard-pan shot.

The remaining holes are again very demanding off the tee. The 440-yard, par 4 #15 is the toughest hole on the course. This double dogleg's fairway must be hit to get to the green in two. Most players layup on the second and play a 50-yard pitch into the wide but shallow green. This hole is practically as hard as the four par 5's.

One of the requirements of a great course is a challenging, yet exciting finishing hole. The 490-yard, par 5 #18 is uphill, into the wind, with a lake that lines the fairway and guards the front and left of the green. The driving range lines the right so it's either water or OB if you don't find the fairway. On the second, you'll want to leave yourself a short-iron into the green. With a wedge the wind might knock it down or even worse you may spin it into the water.

The short-iron will provide more control. Miss the green right and you'll face the thickest rough of the day. And everyone on the clubhouse deck will be watching as you try not to chunk it or run your chip through the green into the water. Three solid shots, though, will leave a makeable birdie putt for a fantastic round at one of Arizona's best courses.

One final, excellent aspect of Silver Creek is that clubhouse. It offers delicious burgers and fries as well as other daily specials. However, the best part is the location. To enjoy your meal properly, sit on the patio that overlooks the awesome #18 and its beautiful lake. This clubhouse is the best 19th hole in Arizona.

Take Highway 60 through Show Low. Turn left on Highway 77 for 5 miles, then right on Borden Ranch Road and go 7.5 miles. For information call 520-537-2744.

Scott Behmer, Contributor

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