Superstition Springs GC – Mesa, AZ
Over the course of 4 or 5 years in the early nineties, I attended the Phoenix Open at the TPC Scottsdale as well as played golf at numerous courses in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa. Back then at The Phoenix Open you could literally stand right beside the tee blocks on the Par 3 16th mere feet from the pros as they teed off. The rowdies used to sit on the big huge hill looking down on the tee box to the right of the players, most of them were ASU students there to cheer on Phil. It was a lot of fun. Now the 16th is a corporate cesspool of silliness, a golf version of the Roman Colosseum except the players get booed, not the “thumbs down” if they fail and death is not the penalty, a bogey is.
Back in the 1990s, the north Scottsdale area hadn’t really been developed. So, some of the mainstays for golfers popping down for the week from Canada as we did were the likes of Camelback, McCormick Ranch, Stonecreek, Tatum Ranch, Papago, Ocotillo and a certain beast of a layout in Mesa; Superstition Springs. Anywhere from 16-32 of us would play 6 out of 7 days and attend the Thursday round at The Phoenix Open.
We played each day for a couple of KP’s and a deuce pot, chucking in a fiver each. I was the organizer each year and would dish out the prizes which I would buy from the pro. We’d have a few drinks, all of us ate and the courses welcomed us back each year.
From year 1 onward, each time I organized the trip in advance I always made sure that we finished the week at Superstition Springs; not my suggestion, but the groups’ request. We all felt that we wanted 5 days of practice before playing there because back then it was one of the tougher courses to play. As well, it was always in mint shape.
Now some 24 years later and the group is just a twosome, me and Myra. I am back here in The Valley of the Sun and this time Superstition Springs is the first course for us to play.
Our host, GM Jeremy Strauss, greeted us in the pro shop and I shared some stories of my time in this area back in the 90’s. After a warm chat and a welcome from Abby, at the counter, and Mike in the pro shop, we headed off as we always do to hit a few balls and then tee it up.
Steve and Braxton at the bag drop were very strong and helpful young men. Larry, the starter, had the buoyancy of a Las Vegas entertainer. We hit a few balls, putted a little and then off we headed paired up with Dan from Maine and the very powerful hitter, Al from Oklahoma.
With no disrespect to this great course it wasn’t until the Par 3 12th that it all came back to me. That fact wasn’t that critical to our day and I easily grasped onto why we saved this course for the last day way back then. Accurate shot making to the greens, many of them elevated with undulating mounding and bunkering, was a must. Off the tees, other than the tough par 3’s, the landing areas were generous.
Playing from the green tees, our Par 3’s ranged from 165 to 208 yards so par was a solid score on any of them. The course has numerous doglegs and you must bring your A game if you want to score decently. Conditions were very good in spite of a recent torrent of rain, the fairways were very full and the contrast between the dormant Bermuda and the rest of the course made focusing on your aiming point easier. The greens ran very true and exact and all the tee boxes were nice and level. One part of the course that is lacking were a few of the bunkers which needed a little top of sand.
The course is ever improving. Many of the players I spoke with who have been playing there for years, stated that since Arcis Golf added Superstition Springs to its portfolio and took over its management they have seen features and factors key to its playability improve significantly. I am not sure who is responsible for the installation of wooden markers stakes on both side of the fairways on the longer holes, but I for one love the look that it presents.
Our day with the guys at this challenging venue was really enjoyable in many ways including one heck of a birdie on one of the Par 5’s by Dan and some mammoths drives by Al. His tee shot on the Par 3 7th, a faded 3 wood to a back pin was near perfection as it landed and danced just past the flag.
My little dynamo, Myra, hit some great drives with regularity and at one point showed great patience as she watched all 3 of us guys butcher one of the Par 4’s on the back nine as she casually 2 putted for a great bogey.
Then there it was as I remember it, the incredible Par 4 18th with the creek crossing the fairway at 2 different points and a green framed with vegetation to the right and bunkering around the back.
Two great shots by me weren’t rewarded as I missed a little short putt for par, but as you often hear or say, “ It was a good bogey”.
Twenty-four years is a long time, but worth the wait. Superstition Springs still holds its own amongst many big names in golf courses here in greater Phoenix.
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