Silver Creek Golf Club, Show Low: An Arizona Crown Jewell

By Scott Behmer, Contributor

SHOW LOW, AZ. - When you step up to the first tee don't be surprised if this round becomes one of your favorites ever. Silver Creek is a challenging golf course, yet so well carved into the natural surroundings of the White Mountains that it always makes for a peaceful and very enjoyable round of golf.

Silver Creek Golf Club - Hole 3
Watch out for the bunkers on Silver Creek Golf Club's third hole.
Silver Creek Golf Club - Hole 3
If you go

Be sure to warm-up before hitting the links. The driving range, 80-yard pitching area, and practice green will all be important preparation for your round. Accuracy is a must on the difficult driving holes. Also, playing the greens properly, with both your chips and your putts, is essential. The fast greens have plenty of undulation, which can be practiced before the round. Finally, make sure that you play the proper tees. If you are interested in the farthest tees, the blacks, then long, accurate drives are crucial. The silver and white tees are for the mid- and high-handicappers, respectively. Likewise, the white and scarlet are for women with low and high handicaps.

The first hole presents the player with an accurate representation of how each of the par 5's will play. They all measure between 500 and 551 yards. With strong accurate drives it is possible to reach the greens in two. However, the proper play is the lay-up area where the 70-100 yard third shot still presents a prime birdie opportunity.

The second hole is one of the seven par 4's over 400 yards. These seven holes have the most difficult drives on the course. #2 has a blind tee-shot over barren terrain. The length of the approach shot can vary by 70 yards depending on how much you bite off on the dogleg. Other long par 4's, like #13 (484 yards), also demand precision. Hitting drives with a three-wood may help with accuracy on long par 4's, but will necessitate long-irons and an occasional fairway wood. A unique feature to Silver Creek, compared to other Arizona courses is that the fringe is puttable. Often 10-15 yards of tightly mowed fringe permit the use of a putter or even Tiger Woods' famous three-wood.

The third hole is perhaps the most fun to play. Measuring in at 368 yards, it is short yet still challenging. An uphill tee-shot leaves a sharp downhill second, followed by a short-iron approach, which must land on the correct level of the green for a birdie opportunity. Tightly mowed grass bunkers off the green leave multiple possibilities for chips. The other short par 4, #11 (358 yards), is my favorite hole. It invites two different strategies on how to make birdie. The conventional play is with an iron off the tee to a tree-lined dogleg fairway that must be hit. My preference is to take a short cut over the 290 yards of dried dirt and rocks on the left. I've never carried it, but usually end up with a decent lie anyway.

Short par 3's are generally the most-birdied holes on any course. The exception is Silver Creek's #4 (126 yards) which is downhill, across water, and guarded by shrubs and an ominous bunker. The yardage is tricky, caused by a swirling wind over the hole, so don't plan on making birdie here until you've played it a few times. The easier birdie hole is the 168-yard #6. It also plays downhill, but the wind is with you, the green is very receptive, and pin placements close to the fringe are birdieable without hitting the green.

The course's trio of long par 3's pose quite a challenge. This is especially true of #12. It's 244 yards over a creek to a shallow green make it one of the longest and toughest par 3's in Arizona. It's okay to be a bit wayward with the tee-shot, just don't leave it short or it may roll back into the creek. The other two par 3's, #8 and #16, are 188 and 204 yards. 5 par 3's can fool someone into thinking that Silver Creek can't be too tough, but it can be if you're not on your game.

The signature hole at Silver Creek is #18. This 516-yard uphill par 5 will test all of your skills. A stiff, in-your-face wind and green-bordering lake negates any chance of going for it in two. An accurate drive makes this hole play much easier and puts you in a better position for the third shot. An inaccurate drive makes it a struggle to get home. The approach will be extremely tough, requiring a short- to mid-iron that clears the lake without ballooning into the wind. The green is one of the largest and most undulated, thus challenging you to the last putt. This beautiful hole caps off a peaceful yet very challenging round. Now it's time to sit on the clubhouse balcony overlooking the 18th green and watch everyone else come in.

After playing the first four holes you will have a good idea about how the remaining holes will shape up. Silver Creek rewards the good shots and penalizes the bad. However, if you are on your game you can have a great score. I've played tournaments here three years in a row and twice shot my best score ever. The cool temperatures and the ideal course conditions present a wonderful course to play, which is why Silver Creek is recognized by The Arizona Republic as one of the Ten Best public Courses" in Arizona. We don't disagree with that accolade. Silver Creek is a must play.

Scott Behmer, Contributor

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Silver Creek

    Randy Parsons wrote on: Mar 24, 2010

    Great review of a great golf course. Easily one of the best for the money to be found. If you are anywhere near Show Low or Pinetop, Arizona be sure to make a tee time. Well worth it.