If you want to play a good, tight, and tough little golf course, look no further than Toka Sticks Golf Club in East Mesa. The club is owned by the Gila River Indian Community and was designed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the early 1950s as a recreational facility for personnel stationed at Williams Air Force Base. The based closed in 1993, and now the course is open to the public.
There’s a lot going on at Toka Sticks right now. A new clubhouse and grille opened in early November, and the practice putting green is still coming in. I was told it should be ready to go by the end of March or early April. There’s also a lot of hammering and sawing behind the driving range. A new Sheraton Four Points Hotel is scheduled to open in the coming months.
Parking was an issue when we played, but there is another parking lot under construction that will ease the congestion before too long. The course plays 6,922 from the Black Tees to a course rating of 72.5 and a slope of 123. The fairways are tree-lined, and as a general rule, there are several holes where you won’t be penalized if you spray your driver. The green complexes are very small. Emphasis on the word small. They are the course’s only defense, but there aren’t a whole lot of tricks to the course. Everything is right out in front of you. The course offers yardage books at no extra charge. This is a nice touch, especially if you’ve never seen the course.
Holes Worth Writing Home About
Right as you’re about to make the turn, the course really starts to show its teeth. I told you that the small greens are the course’s only defense, and the 220-yard Par 3 8th hole is a perfect example. The hole played into the wind and onto the top portion of a two-tiered green when we were there. There are narrow, crusty bunkers guarding both sides of the green. It’s best to miss either long or short.
The 544-yard Par 5 9th hole has the player looking for revenge after coming off of No. 8. Good luck reaching this hole in two! The hole doglegs sharply left around the 150-yard marker. There are tall trees guarding both sides of the fairway, so you can’t cut the hole off, and there is construction off to the right.
On the back nine, the 198-yard Par 3 15th hole is a nice visual. The hole plays over water on the right to a fairly large green complex. There is no good miss right or left. Hit this green in reg, make your par, and move on.
I played this course with several of my Golf Academy classmates. We really enjoyed this course and thought it was a fair test of golf. In fact, we can’t wait to get back out there again now that we know where to hit it.
If I had planned ahead, I would have grabbed a bite to eat at the grille. It’s a brand new building with great views out towards the 10th tee and driving range. The pro shop is still nice and new and offers a wide selection of apparel and golf shoes with and without the Toka Sticks logo.
While We’re Young
Our pace of play was good. We teed of around 1:40p and finished a little after 6:00p. We had to wait for groups to clear ahead of us on a few holes, and that’s what slowed us up.
The best shot I hit came on the 569-yard Par 5 12th hole. From 166 yards out, I hit a 7-iron to within about eight feet and made the putt for birdie. I did not hit a good tee shot but was able to hit my ball out of the clover rough and back into play with a 4-iron.
One of the guys I played with chipped-in for birdie on the 436-yard Par 4 16th hole and had several chances at eagle because he bombs it off the tee.
Next On the Tee
I’m going back out to Toka Sticks next Friday. I left several shots out on the course I aim to get back.