Information on the history of Longbow Golf Club in north Mesa is a little hard to come by. The course website says the course was originally designed by Ken Kavanaugh (who also designed The Resort at Gold Canyon and Dell Urich in Tucson), but that it reopened in the fall of 2003 following a complete renovation and redesign. Apparently, Kavanaugh also directed the redesign, which added a clubhouse, lengthened the course to over 7,000 yards, and expanded the fairways. It’s managed by OB Sports Golf Management in Scottsdale. Longbow was named a Top 20 Course in Arizona by Golf Magazine in 2012.
If you’re headed that way, get ready for a drive. The course is located just south of the 202 off of the Higley Road exit. The course plays 7,050 yards from The Tips to a Par of 71, a course rating of 72.9, and a slope of 134. Here are some of the highlights of the round:
Holes Worth Writing Home About
Longbow is a narrow, tight golf course surrounded by desert on all sides. If you hit your ball in the fairway, trouble will have a hard time finding you. But the course is very unforgiving if you’re a little squirrely off the tee. If that’s the case, you’re going to lose golf balls. The 626-yard Par 5 1st hole will punch you right in the mouth if you’re not ready for it. What a great starting hole! It doglegs severely to the left off of the tee, but you can use the tree in the middle of the fairway as a guide of sorts. Keep your tee shot left of that tree if you can. That’s position A, but it’s a three-shot hole no matter what you do unless you’re on steroids.
The property really starts to open up on the back nine. It’s tough to pick just one, but I think the Par 4 10th is a great hole. Right after you make the turn, you’re faced with 451 yards of nasty. It’s not the longest Par 4 on the course, but it is the longest Par 4 on the back side. I pulled my tee shot a little to left off of the tee (the only fairway I missed all day) and found my ball in some loose gravel in a waste area off of the fairway. These areas aren’t marked as hazards, so you can ground your club. I had a wide open shot to the green, but I’m glad I brought my “rock club” with me. I usually bring a club I don’t mind scuffing with me when I play desert courses for the first time. I laid up just short of the green and got up and down for par.
This is a great place to come and work on your game. The driving range is grass, and there is a practice short game area and putting green. I wish I could say Longbow is a quiet, secluded place to practice, but it’s in the flight path of Falcon Field located right across the street. It seems like you’re being interrupted by prop planes every 15 minutes or so. And because they’re coming in for a landing, they can get pretty low.
All of the greens at Longbow are bermuda grass. Since I didn’t really know what to expect from the greens, I tried to aim for the middle on the opening nine. The greens were so firm that my ball bounced high and released, causing me to have to hit several putts from just off of the putting surface. They were pretty fast and seemed to hold their lines. I was burning edges on the front nine before draining a couple of birdies on the back.
I love it when courses include a yardage book on the cart at no additional charge. And Longbow does. What it doesn’t do is provide water for golfers to drink out on the course. There was no beverage cart service running when I teed off a little before 1:00p, and all of the water fountains on the course weren’t in working order. When it’s over 110-degrees, that can be dangerous! There is a cooler full off ice on the golf cart, and I recommend that you bring your own water to the course. There are shade structures on just about every tee box, something I’ve never seen on a golf course, but they’re necessary because there’s absolutely no shade out here.
About the only bad thing you can say about the place, other than the absence of drinking water, is that the bunkers are firm. This is an advantage when you’re in one of the many fairway bunkers but a disadvantage if you’re around the green.
I thought this was cool – the flags on the pins have archery targets on them. At first, I thought they were a tribute to Falcon Field across the street. Just aim for the bullseye.
My best shot of the day was actually a bad break. I hit the fiberglass pin on the 448-yard Par 4 14th with my 6-iron from 179 yards out. That was just bad luck. Instead of having just a few feet left for birdie, I had a 20-25 footer.
While We’re Young
I wasn’t supposed to tee off until 1:16p, but because I wanted to catch a late afternoon round with my buddies out at another golf course, I decided to go out a little early. I was told there were only three other golf carts out on the course, and so I flew around in a little more than 2:30. It has to be one of the fastest, if not the fastest, round I’ve played all semester and maybe the fastest round I’ve played since I’ve been at the Golf Academy.
Next On the Tee
Dobson Ranch Golf Course in Mesa. It’s the city course that just hosted the City Junior Championship. I got to see the course while I was out volunteering for the tournament, and now I really want to play it. I’m willing to bet I played it when I was in college, but I can’t remember.