Superstition Springs Golf Club was designed by Greg Nash and opened for business off Baseline Road in Mesa, the heart of the East Valley, in 1986. The mounding, the grass and sand bunkering, and the railroad ties running along the water features remind me of a Pete Dye design, but while it’s not a Dye, it might as well be. If you don’t hit the ball in the proper spot or if you don’t know where it’s going, this course will eat you alive. The fairways are narrow, the rough is thick bermuda, and the bermuda greens are small and a little slow (but good).
Superstition Springs was recognized by Golfweek as one of America’s Best Courses in 1992, 1993, and again in 1994 and is a Regional Qualifying Site for the PGA Tour. The course measures 7,005 yards from the Championship Tees to a par of 72, a course rating of 73.0, and a slope of 128. A couple of my Golf Academy classmates and I decided to play the course from the Back Tees (one up from Championship) at 6,700 yards because we had never seen the course. Here are some of the highlights of the round:
Holes Worth Writing Home About
On more than one occasion, I found myself standing on the tee swearing that I was playing a course somewhere in the Midwest. It was especially noticeable on the back nine where there were several holes that meandered through valleys bordered by thick cottonwood trees.
All of the holes have different names, which is something you’re more likely to see on courses back East, not in Arizona. My favorite hole on the front was the 325-yard Par 4 5th. It’s called Billy’s Bend. The hole is a slight dogleg right. I hit hybrid to just short of the water and had just 58 yards in, but one of my classmates chose 5-iron, hit the cart path near the fairway, and almost couldn’t hit his 2nd shot. The green is incredibly narrow – today they tucked the pin on the far left side – and there is thick rough and five greenside bunkers to collect any errant shots. I caught a bit of a flier, my shot went long left of the green, and I barely got up-and-down because I had shortsided myself.
There are a couple of reachable Par 5s on the back nine, but I think the best hole is the Par 3 12th, Volcano. It’s only 161 yards, but it’s a blind tee shot, it’s straight uphill, and it plays at least one club longer. If you come up short, you’re in some really nasty bunkers. If you go long, you’re in long, thick bermuda rough – or worse. I thought one of my classmates had stuffed his tee shot to within just a few feet. He thought so too. But when we got up to the green, we couldn’t find his ball. Because the green is elevated, we didn’t see it hit the downslope and nearly roll into traffic some 40 yards below.
Golf Academy Golf Operations Instructor and PGA Professional Fred Barr was the General Manager at Superstition Springs for four-and-a-half years between 1994 and 1998. He told us one of the course’s greatest challenges was, is, and always will be its location. It’s right in the middle of a flood plain. Even though water moves through the course pretty well, when Mesa gets a heavy rain, the front nine can be underwater for a few days. Conditions like that can drastically impact your revenue if you let it. Fred told us his staff used a dump truck and a trailer to transport two carts at a time across flooded areas so golfers could continue playing the front side. The golfers didn’t seem to mind, and Superstition Springs was able to salvage some revenue.
The driving range at Superstition Springs is grass (which you know I love), and the TaylorMade range balls are in really good shape. Right now, you can get unlimited range balls for just $49.99/month, which I think is a great deal. If you hit balls just ten times, you’ve more than made back your money at a really nice practice facility. There’s also a large practice putting/chipping green just behind the range if you want to work on your game.
All of the carts are equipped with GPS. As we were making our way down the 18th fairway and heading for the clubhouse, an alert popped up that read, “Replay today for $5.” What a great marketing idea! I don’t know how many people cash-in on the offer, but if you wanted to play a few more holes or even if you just wanted to go around one more time, you can’t beat $5. The sun doesn’t set now until almost 7:30p, and once you know where to hit your ball, you can really take advantage and score.
The best shot of the day came early in the round off the 7-iron of one of my classmates. One the 156-yard Par 3 3rd hole, Gold Dust, Sean Weiss hit his ball to about 18″ and made the putt for birdie. He started his round birdie-par-birdie and finished one-over for the day. That was a great round!
While We’re Young
We teed off a little before one o’clock and finished a little before five. I’m going to call it a four-hour round. With five holes left to play, we decided to let a twosome play through. Generally, this is a no-brainer. Two is less than three and should theoretically play faster. Boy was I wrong. I have to take the heat on this one. These guys were terrible. The play through was a mistake that probably kept us out on the golf course for another 20-30 minutes than we would have been otherwise.
Next On the Tee
Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale. This is a real treat – a course we only get to play in the summer because of its exclusivity and mainly because it’s so expensive. We’re playing a Beat-the-Pro 4-1 Scramble, and then, after the round, Grayhawk is holding a lunch banquet just for Golf Academy students. Word on the street is that Grayhawk likes to use the opportunity to pitch and recruit future GAA grads. That’s fine by me! This is another can’t wait!