Located just on the outskirts of Phoenix proper is the Arizona Biltmore Golf Club. The address may say Phoenix, but this part of town feels a lot like Scottsdale. When you see the mansions surrounding the golf courses, you’ll see what I mean.
Every U.S. President in recent years beginning with Dwight D. Eisenhower, with the exception of Barack Obama (and he’s a golfer!) has played the Biltmore. There are two 18-hole courses – Links and Adobe. The Links Course opened in 1979 and plays 6,300 yards from the Black Tees to a Par of 71, a course rating of 69.7, and a slope of 124. We played the older and more historic Adobe Course. If it’s stately enough for the President, it’s got to be grand, and it is.
The Adobe Course was built in 1928 by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. He persuaded Riviera and Bel-Air Country Club architect William P. Bell to design what was then one of the first courses in the city of Phoenix. It became a classic. The idea may have been Wrigley’s desire, but it has Bell’s fingerprints all over it.
Before I did my research, I mentioned to the guys in my group that the holes playing north toward Piestewa Peak reminded me of the desert courses of Palm Springs and that the holes playing south toward Phoenix reminded me of the courses you might see in the Los Angeles area, specifically Riviera. So I was right!
The parkland-style Adobe Course plays 6,430 yards from the Black Tees to a Par of 71, a course rating of 70.2, and a slope of 120. While I didn’t get to play my ball the entire time because of the 4-2 Scramble format, there were plenty of highlights from the round. My foursome shot an 8-under par 62.
Holes Worth Writing Home About
First thing’s first. The bermuda grass greens out here are grainy and slow but firm. There’s nary a ball mark on any of the greens, and everything breaks south towards the city. The guy in the pro shop told me to play what I saw out in front of me, and he was right. What you see is what you get with the 411-yard Par 4 5th hole. Because it plays south toward Phoenix, it reminds me of Riviera. The estate behind the green will remind you of Los Angeles too. The hole is a slight dogleg to the right and a little downhill to an undulating green complex.
I think my favorite hole was probably the 14th. It’s a 512-yard Par 5 that doglegs to the left. The hole plays toward the 2,600-foot Piestewa Peak in the direction of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. If you bomb it over the fairway bunker, you can go for the green on your approach. Even if you come up a little short, there is just a greenside bunker left to contend with. I was able to get home in two using my 4-wood but had to settle for birdie.
Oh, and one more thing… beware of the water looming short of the 397-yard Par 4 3rd hole. If you don’t look for the stakes short of the green, you might miss them. A well-hit drive can reach the water.
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but if I designed a golf course, I would have a short, driveable, risk/reward Par 4. The 311-yard 17th hole is just that. There is a huge, hungry bunker short right and the green slopes dramatically from front to back to discourage anything from getting close. The guys and I were talking – a hole like this is a hole that everyone will look forward to playing.
The homes out here are huge. My favorite was the mansion that runs along a good part of the fairway along the Par 4 9th hole. I couldn’t fit the whole thing in the picture I took. Two outdoor dining areas below and another above. Simply spectacular.
Drinking water is scarce out here, so don’t be afraid to bring a jug.
The best shot in our group came from my teammate and fellow classmate Devon Montoya. He found the greenside bunker pin-high but to the right of the 486-yard Par 5 6th hole in two. But his ball was on the downslope. No problem for Devo. He hit a nice high lob wedge to tap-in distance for a birdie. Another thing you will notice out here is that the bunkers are actually very good for an Arizona course. The sand is good and fluffy.
While We’re Young
We were playing a scramble, and we were out in front of the shotgun tournament, so we were able to play the course in 3:39. We didn’t have to wait to hit a single shot. This semester, Tournament Golf starts at 8:00a, so we can beat the heat and the traffic. It’s what I would call a perfect day.
Next On the Tee
Ocotillo Golf Resort in Chandler. This showed up on the list of courses we were eligible as Golf Academy students one week during the spring semester, and I missed it. It never came up again… until now. Through the academy, we can also play the course anytime for just $20 through August 31st.