Saturday, January 28, 2012

Back at San Pedro Golf Course

It had been a few years since we've been in the Benson, Arizona area and played at the San Pedro Golf Club and there's been a major change: the city of Benson has taken over the golf course.  What that meant to Denny and I right off the bat is that we were no longer able to use our Golf Card International discount and pay $20 each to play eighteen holes with a riding cart.  Instead I booked a tee time online and we played for $27.95 each (plus tax).  If you plan to spend time in the area, the golf course has a special deal where you pay anywhere from $99 to $119 (depending on what special they are offering) for one year and that allows you one free round of golf right off the bat, a free round on your birthday and the ability to play a round of golf for $18.95 before 1 PM (the price is reduced after that.)  Denny and I were paired up with a gentleman from Tucson who had taken advantage of the special and who drives the 40 miles every week to play golf here.  It's a good deal. 
Of course it's difficult to maintain a golf course in the high desert but the staff at San Pedro is doing a nice job.  The fairways here are bermuda grass, dormant now and the tee boxes and greens are in decent shape for the amount of play they seem to get.  We waited on every hole to play as there were several foursomes ahead of us but we still got off the golf course in four hours.  One of the things that makes the round go quicker now is the fact that the golf carts here are equipped with GPS systems so it's easy to quickly choose the proper club for your next shot and keep the game moving.
There are five sets of tee boxes at San Pedro so you can make the golf course as long or as short as you like.  From the black (longest) tees the yardage is 7313 yards with a rating/slope of 73.0/130.  The Copper tees are 6852 yards, 70.4/125, the Whites 6298 yards, 68.4/117, the Jade tees are 5716 yards, 71.3/125 and the Silver tee yardage is 5262 with a rating/slope of 68.8/117.

The San Pedro River runs along the golf course but this time of year it is dry.  There are two ponds on the golf course that come into play and a few ravines that will eat your golf ball if you're not careful.  The sand traps are vile here in the high desert; not the fluffy white stuff of the Midwest but red dirt.  Plain and simple dirt.  Not fun.  The greens aren't particularly tricky here although the speed can be hard to judge depending on when they have been watered and cut and how humid the weather is.  On the front nine the three of us had a tendency to hit our balls short on the green while on the back nine we were all long.  You aren't going to get into a lot of trouble here although there are more canyon walls on the back nine so you could end up hitting out of the rocks up there.  That's fine in the winter when the rattlesnakes are still hibernating but I wouldn't recommend it once the weather starts warming up. 

Your final challenge on the eighteenth hole is to hit it over the water (you have the choice of going around from the Jade tees) and then there's another small pond that fronts the green.  It's a fun way to finish and then you can stop at the small restaurant for a drink and a sandwich afterwards to rehash your game.  

This is a golf course we enjoy coming back to and the city is doing a nice job of keeping it up.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sunsites aka Shadow Mountain Golf Course

 It had been six or seven years since we last drove to the Sunsites, Arizona area to play golf at the Shadow Mountain Country Club.  In that time the owner of the golf course had apparently filed for bankruptcy and the local people of the small community of Sunsites had banded together to arrange to lease the golf course from the owner.  These folks have taught themselves how to run a pro shop, advertise and maintain the fairways and greens of a golf course and by doing so have managed to keep the golf course open.
Shadow Mountain is an eighteen hole golf course that is flat and wide open for the most part.  From the longest blue tees the yardage is 6632 yards with a rating/slope of 71.1/126.  The middle white tee yardage is 6324 with a rating/slope of 69.5/124 and the red tee yardage is 5432 yards with a rating/slope of 70.0/125.  There are a few ponds (and we found them) as well as some areas of links style grasses.  There are also some sand traps although these days they would more appropriately be termed dirt traps because the stuff in the traps has the appearance and texture of dirt.  It's obvious the folks are struggling to keep the course in condition as some of the greens are very rough making it impossible to putt with any accuracy.  And while there appears to be a watering system in place on the golf course, there must not be funds to operate it because the fairways are dormant and dying in many areas.

For all of that, you do get to whale away at the ball here and your ball might just run forever on the hard-pan.  For $20 you get to play eighteen holes of golf using a riding cart while viewing majestic mountains in all four directions.  The sunshine is bright, the air is crisp and clear and the surroundings are quiet.  You won't play regulation golf here due to the current condition of the golf course, but it's nice to get out and swing the club on a beautiful day in Arizona.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Full Day at Arizona City Golf Course

The last time Denny and I tried to play golf here we got in four holes worth of play before a dust storm drove us back to our truck.  Later that day we heard that there were fatalities on Interstate 10 due to that same dust storm that obliterates absolutely everything from sight.

On this day of play however, it was windless and sunny with temperatures in the low 70s which was good, because our tee time was behind a very large group of golfers from one of the other RV parks in the area.  We were in for a slow day.

Arizona City Golf Course is set within a residential area and as such the homes will come into play on an errant shot (ask Denny.)  There are four sets of tee boxes with the black tees measuring out at 6742 yards with a rating/slope of 72.0/116.  The blues are next at 6413 yards, 70.1/114, the whites at 5935 yards, 67.8/111 and the yellows at 5126 yards, 68.2/109.  Surprisingly the women's yellow tee boxes are as well maintained as the men's, which isn't always the norm for golf courses.  And the grassy areas are in pretty good shape for the amount of winter play this course receives.

Since this is a desert golf course there aren't a lot of water hazards on the course, although there are four irrigation ponds and a lot of coots.  Sand traps aren't really a problem on the fairways and around the greens, but the waste areas along the sides of the fairways and sometimes running across the middle of the fairways can be really rough on your golf clubs.  The golf course is flat and open (if you ignore the houses, that is) so you can swing away at the ball without too much worry about getting into trouble.  You will certainly get some added distance if you land in the waste areas of the fairways.  And folks here behind you will play up pretty close to you since the course is always heavily played and busy.  That took a little getting used to.

I recommend you make sure you have a lot of water with you on hot days as there aren't a lot of water coolers on the course and there are no beverage carts driving out to relieve your thirst.  Our round of golf took four and a half hours and it would have been longer if the players ahead of us had played a full round of eighteen holes instead of quitting after nine holes.  This is one of the more reasonably priced golf courses in the area at $35 to play eighteen holes with a riding cart, so it gets a lot of play.  The only online tee times with a lower price were those before 8 AM and those after 2 PM, neither of which appealed to us.  Since this is not quite the snowbird season yet (that's still about two weeks away) I can't even imagine how busy the golf course will be then.