by Larry Berle
If you have watched the Players Championship at the TPC Sawgrass on TV, or even played the course, you will be interested to know that they recover nearly 100,000 golf balls every year from the water surrounding the #17 island green. And that's from only 40,000 rounds of golf!
You can challenge yourself to a very similar island hole at Poston Butte Golf Club in Florence AZ, just an hour's drive from the Phoenix airport. Hole #17 at Poston Butte plays about 10 yards longer than the 17th at TPC Sawgrass, and welcomes you with a similar wooden wall and a bridge to the green. Just hope your ball is lying there when you arrive and not in a watery grave. Deliver a hole-in-one and you will be commemorated on the clubhouse wall. This island green is approximately 10,000 square feet, similar in size to it's famous Florida cousin, and many a ball get rinsed in the water surrounding this island too. "Not so sure why a target so big is hard to hit, "Josh Green, the general manager, said to me. “If it were a 10,000 square-foot house you wouldn’t have any trouble hitting it."
This relatively flat course is a very enjoyable, with five sets of tees ranging from 7282 yards down to 5297. It's flat enough that there is nothing for miles to stop the wind, which we had to contend with most of the day. The fairways are generous and even if you are a bit wide there is very little trouble. The fairways are bordered by several yards of dark brown crushed rock, so as you stand on the tee the holes are visibly well defined. I ended the day with the same ball I started with, which is an accomplishment here in the desert . This course seems to be almost parkland in style rather than desert. The fairways may be easy to hit, but when you approach the greens the challenge begins. There is wonderful bunkering around the greens, and the undulations on the putting surfaces require your full attention.
The back nine seems to have more character than the front. This is also where houses have been built along a few of the fairways, but they are set back enough that they never impose on the course. Three quarters of the play here comes from the residents of Anthem at Merrill Ranch, the community in which the course is located, so a visit here almost feels like a private club experience.
One new feature of Troon-managed clubs like this one is Time Par. This is the amount of time they expect a round of golf take at their courses, and they do their best to make that happen. Time Par for Poston Butte is 4:07, and that is almost exactly how long it took us.
If you want to leave your clubs at home, they can supply you with state of the art Callaway rental clubs (they get the newest models from Callaway every two years). The $40 rental fee includes two sleeves of balls. Depending on how many rounds you are going to play on a trip, when you include 2 sleeves of balls it may be cheaper to rent than to bring your clubs as checked baggage.
If you are planning a golf trip to the Valley of the Sun, Visit www.troongolfaz.com and you will find access to twelve of the finest courses in the Phoenix area.
If you go:
Poston Butte Golf Club
6100 West Merril Parkway
Course architect: Gary Panks