Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club
With the moody colors of the Superstition Mountains and cacti-strewn high desert as a backdrop, the two Nicklaus-designed courses at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club – Prospector and Lost Gold – should be at the top of your must-play list in the Phoenix, Ariz., area.
The “wow” factor of Superstition Mountain’s two tracks lies not in flashy flourishes or dramatic elevations but in the subtly of design working in concert with stunning surroundings animated by coyotes, deer, road runners and the occasional bobcat.
Plus, says Matt Brooke, director of golf, “We have the best conditioned courses in the valley. They are tournament ready every day.” Both play more than 7,200 yards with fast-running greens.
Of the two, Prospector, which was designed by Jack and Gary Nicklaus in 1998, is narrower off the tee with bigger landing areas around the greens and fewer forced carries. It’s the more open of the two but its challenge comes from bunkers, waste areas, desert, rock walls and cunning greens. For example when putting hole #3, your eyes can deceive you. Is it actually running from front to back?
Lost Gold, venue for the 2002 Senior Slam, is characterized by dry washes, sweeping bunkers and gently undulating fairways. Crafted by Jack and Jack Nicklaus II in 1999, Lost Gold is wider off the tee but challenging around the greens.
After playing back and forth along the landscape, you head into the desert revealing greater vistas without any houses to distract. By the 18th, you are usually hitting into the wind with a tough pitch shot to the green.
Lost Gold requires more carries and strategic shots to slightly smaller greens so it’s no surprise it is the coveted course for low handicappers. Still, with five tees it’s very playable for all levels.
On both Prospector and Lost Gold, water is not a mirage but sparkles on the finishing holes threatening on the second shot on Prospector and cutting in front of the green on Lost Gold.
In this part of the world, mountains rule. “When you’re standing on the third tee of Prospector, there is nothing between you and the mountains. They are right out there in your face,” says Brooke.
Superstitions also claim a rich historical past. It is said Jacob Waltz, a German known as “The Dutchman,” located a long lost gold mine that had been abandoned in the 1840s when Apaches ambushed the owners, the Peraltas, on their way back to Mexico. Waltz allegedly hid his mined gold in the Superstitions. Since his death in 1891, many have tried to find Waltz’s cache but to no avail.
Today, however, these hills yield other treasures: the beauty of the Lost Dutchman State Park just north of the golf club and remnants of ancient Native American cliff dwellings and ancient petroglyphs. Here you can hike the treasure trails, take a ranger-led moonlight walk or even visit a ghost town.
And, golfers reap the rewards at two of the most beautiful tracks in the Phoenix region at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club.
Playing out of a magnificent clubhouse appointed with Native American art and artifacts, including a 15th century wooden door from Mexico, the semi-private club is the epicenter for an upscale golf community, home to villas and estates. Those who book a play-and-stay package get to use the community’s sports club and spa facilities and stay in one of the on-site villas.
“When you compare what we have here to other courses in the area, we offer a really great value where it’s all about the overall golf experience,” says Brooke.
Is “lost gold” still out there? Maybe. But there’s no doubt that the experience you find at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club is well worth its weight in gold.