The Buzz: The Palms is the championship course, which was created by renowned architect Arthur Hills on land that formerly supported cotton fields. Built in 1993, it spreads out in open, traditional fashion, but with desert landscape, over palm tree-lined fairways that vary from hilly to flat and well-bunkered greens. There are minimal carries and the desert transition areas aren’t particularly severe. It plays to par 72 with four sets of tees, ranging from 5,300 to 7,015 yards, and is rated at 73.3 with a slope of 131 from the back tees. If you’ve played the Palms course before, one thing you’ll find different is the two nines were reversed early in 2010. This change means the signature hole, and the only one with water, is the 18th, making it one of the best finishing holes in the Valley of the Sun. The 545-yard par 5 features a large lake that runs along the left side, then wraps around the back of a green that is well-guarded by bunkers. It plays into a prevailing wind with a mountain backdrop in the distance and demands precise approach shots because the fairway narrows as it nears the hole.
Perhaps the most memorable hole on the new front nine is No. 7, a par 3 that plays at 185 yards from the tips to a long, narrow, elevated green, with a wash crossing in front and wrapping down the left side, made even more daunting by a prevailing right-to-left wind. There also is a deep bunker on the right, and if you come up short with your tee shot, it’s a tough up-and-down from below the green. Shockingly, this is the No. 18 handicap hole. Something else returning golfers will notice, and appreciate, is that the course was overseeded wall-to-wall in the fall of 2010, resulting in the best winter-spring conditions the Palms Course has presented in several years.
Palm Valley Golf Club was hosting avid players long before professional sports stadiums dotted the landscape on the western side of the Phoenix metro area. Palm Valley, a master-planned community that began development in 1987, added golf courses in 1993 and ’99. The golf complex offers two complementary courses, playability for all skill levels, affordability and nice facilities, including a recently remodeled clubhouse. That latest project included converting the pro shop to a Callaway Signature Shop and converted the Fairway Grille into a virtual sports bar with wide-screen TVs and patio seating on the Waterfront Pavilion facing the club’s signature hole.
Palm Valley is now right in the thick of things, drawing those who attend Arizona Cardinals NFL games at University of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix Coyotes NHL games at Jobing.com Arena and MLB spring training games at Goodyear Ballpark and Camelback Ranch. In fact, it’s common to see baseball players from the Reds, Indians, Dodgers and White Sox organizations teeing it up at Palm Valley. The facility also is known for the quality of its junior golf programs, and it offers a loyalty card, called the Palms Card, with substantial discounts on green fees and merchandise.