Papago Golf Course, owned by the City of Phoenix, AZ, was long considered the finest public golf course in the state. It was designed by well known and esteemed golf course architect William Francis (Billy) Bell, who learned his craft from his father, William Park Bell. They collaborated on many highly rated California courses. Perhaps best known among the nearly one hundred courses to Billy's credit is Torrey Pines in San Diego. He also designed Tucson Country Club and Wickenburg Country Club.
Papago Golf Course opened in 1963 and quickly became popular with Phoenix area residents. It hosted the US Amateur Public Links Championship in 1971, and also has been home to Phoenix Open Qualifying. In 1977 Jack Snyder, Phoenix resident and golf course architect, provided some modest redesign to Papago Golf Course. In its prime, the course hosted more than 100,000 rounds annually.
The course was closed for play on April 4, 2008 and re-opened December 2008 after a $5.8 million dollar restoration.
"I am a low handicapper and played the course from the tips. I found it (the new course) to be incredibly challenging — it is very long, extremely well bunkered, and has tough, undulated greens. When I first heard how many trees were being removed I wasn't excited, but after seeing the course I love the new views and the feel it has with some of the trees gone."
Jason Kunert, Gilbert AZ
Those who played the course in the past will be pleasantly surprised at the changes they'll find, as extensive work has delivered a new irrigation system, improved greens, fairways, bunkers, tee boxes and more. Some trees have been removed and others thinned. Those that remain ensure the original design strategies that made Papago one of Arizona's most challenging courses are retained. And those remaining trees also provide the appealing look of an established, mature course. Overall, it has retained its challenging play with strategic bunkering and hazards, and tees of varying lengths to challenge golfers of all skill levels. Those who have seen or already played the new Papago are raving about the course and the experience it is providing.
Friends old and new can now experience a scenic and challenging golf course, in a convenient, central location within 15 minutes of downtown Phoenix and Sky Harbor Airport. The course provides spectacular views of Phoenix from its unique, strategic setting at the base of Papago Buttes. Despite its convenient central location, golfers experience a setting rich with the native elements that make Arizona a unique state. And its location within Papago Park helps deliver the peace and quiet expected in a round of golf, allowing for the concentration the course's challenges warrant.
With its remarkable history ably preserved, its even more promising future and its accessibility, both geographically and financially, the reborn, revitalized Papago Golf Course is a "must play" for Phoenix-area residents and visitors to the Valley of the Sun alike.
Source: 'Papago Park-The Golf Course and its History'-William Godfrey, author