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|Squaw Peak dominates the horizon on the par-4 16th hole at The Legacy Golf Club. (Courtesy The Legacy Golf Club)|
PHOENIX -- Tired of trudging through brush and cactus, looking for wayward drives? Angry at golf course designers who surround narrow fairways with inhospitable terrain?
Have we got a place for you.
Welcome to The Legacy Golf Club, home of some of the widest fairways in Arizona and, quite possibly, the best summer golf bargain in the state.
Let's start with the green fees, because everyone wants to save a few bucks. In the summer months, Legacy, a par-71, 6,946-yard layout designed by Gary Panks, can be had for less than $20 after noon.
In the winter, as with every Valley golf course in tourist season, the price jumps to more than $100.
"We actually stay relatively busy in the summer," Head Professional Justin Gish said. "On a slow day, we probably see 130 to 140 golfers."
Morning rates are still cheap at $25 on weekdays and $30 on weekends. The idea, Gish said, is to entice golfers when it's 110 degrees outside and the idea of being in the sun for five hours seems, well, nuts.
What will golfers discover at Legacy?
For one thing, there are those aforementioned wide fairways. Gish describes Legacy as a "desert facility," but that's only because it sits smack in the middle of the Sonoran Desert.
In truth, Legacy isn't near as penal as several Valley desert courses.
Take No. 10, a 405-yard par-4. Gish estimated the fairway measures about 50 yards wide. Numerous other holes feature generous landing areas. Frankly, it's a nice change of pace from golf courses on which any miss is an unplayable lie.
"Being a resort course, you try to make them pretty fair for most golfers," Gish said. "You want them to go out and have fun."
The Legacy Golf Club's best features -- other than the fairways -- are the par 3s and immaculate greens. Three of the five par 3s measure at least 185 yards from the tips. Play well on those holes, and you'll post a good score in the clubhouse.
The greens? First off, they're always in unbelievable shape. One PGA Professional who played the golf course said the greens roll as pure as any on which he's putted in the Valley. But beware, the breaks are far more severe than you might read. It's not unusual to find a 3 1/2-foot putt break the length of two cups.
"I would say we have a reputation of being one of the best-kept public golf courses within the Phoenix area," Gish said. "I know quite a few guys in our industry who come play our course in the summer because it's in better shape than theirs."
The signature hole at Legacy is the 558-yard, par-5 18th. The original Heard Ranch grain silos to the right once ranked as the tallest structures in Maricopa County. Of course, with water left and out of bounds right, the silos might not get your attention.
Besides, by then, you'll be amazed that you paid so little -- at least in the summer -- to play such a terrific track.
The Legacy Golf Club rates as one of the best-kept secrets -- if you can call it that -- in the Valley. The golf course doesn't get the recognition of its neighbor, the Raven Golf Course at South Mountain, but it stands on its own. The greens roll pure and are conditioned perfectly. The staff is well trained but not obtrusive, and the wide fairways are a pleasure to play after losing balls for years in the desert.
The first thing you'll see when you drive your cart to the Legacy driving range is a blue awning. Under it, you'll find Bob Jennings, a PGA Professional with Blaisdell Performance Systems. Jennings will analyze your swing for a custom set of fitted clubs. It's well worth the time and money. Also, the Legacy Resort includes 328 rooms, and the resort offers several stay-and-play packages. Rental clubs are complimentary for hotel guests.
January 11, 2011
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
Referred to by its hosts as a "hidden gem," the greens alone at Sterling Hills Golf Club in Camarillo, Calif. make this a stone worth turning over. Located an hour northwest of L.A., it's a pleasing, quiet and generally engaging round that will appease players of all levels.
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