One of the first golf courses I played after moving to the Valley of the Sun was Longbow. Besides being one of the nicest courses in the East Valley area of Phoenix, it has an interesting back story. It originally opened in 1997 and was owned by Boeing. The name comes from the Apache Longbow attack helicopter built by Boeing right across the street from the course. Employees were offered a steep discount on tee times as a perk.
In 2003, the course went through a major renovation. The temporary clubhouse, located south of the course, was just off McDowell Rd. The new clubhouse was built just north of the course and is located on Longbow Parkway. It is an incredible structure. Stone and metal, with an awesome back patio complete with fireplace, it’s perfect for a drink after the round or an awards banquet following a tournament.
The new Longbow opened in 2003. It is worth the drive from Phoenix or Scottsdale to play. With the completion of the Loop 202, the trip from North Scottsdale to East Mesa is all freeway and only about 30 minutes.
Let’s talk about the course. Condition of the course is always top notch. Longbow greens can be notoriously fast, and with some of the slopes, the old mantra “stay below the hole” is important. Most of the fairways are generous, but a few holes require some precision off the tee.
Longbow starts of with a long par 5. The hole is 626 from the tips, 588 from the one-ups and 522 from the regular tees. A sweeping dog left left, you are quickly introduced the the transition areas prominent at Longbow. The transition areas are basically cleared areas of desert. There are some native grasses and a few trees, but you will generally have a shot if you find yourself off the fairway. The entire left side of the hole is protected by one of these areas. Unless you have a single digit handicap, don’t bite off too much if you find yourselves in the dirt. Take your medicine and get it back in the fairway. The green on No 1 slopes from back to front, with a bit of a crown as well. Don’t go long left as the chip back up is a tough up and down.
No. 2 is one of my favorite holes in the valley. The hole is a rather straightforward, short par 4. 3 wood is plenty off the tee for most, and the only hidden trouble is long right off the tee. The fairway does run out and desert awaits. The best part of this hole is the green is directly in the flight path for Falcon Field, a regional airport next to Longbow. I have watched a B-17 pass a few hundred feet overhead as it landed. I also saw a fire tanker do a practice run right over the green and the runway. Some complain about the air traffic. I find it exciting and consider it an added bonus.
No. 4 is nerve-wracking par 4. A long tee shot over a ravine to a tight landing area with a pond protecting the right side is tough enough. The second shot is to a narrow but deep green with water completely down the left side and a bunker right of the green catching all the bail outs.
No. 5 is picture time. The fairway on this par 4 is framed with a rise of bunkers down the right side and in the distance stands Red Mountain. Don’t go long left on this tee shot as another transition area awaits your ball.
No. 8 is a drivable par 4. A tough two tiered green is protected on the left by a bunker complex and the right drops off into another transition area. My philosophy is to hit driver at the bunkers on the left of the green and hope I push it just a bit.
No 11 is a difficult par 3. Playing anywhere from 193 to 135 yards, this green slopes dramatically from back to front and from right to left. I have had more than one good looking tee shot end up in the transition area left of the green. I always try to leave a shot short of the pin (sometimes short of the green) and gladly two putt for a par.
No 15 is a fun par 5. This is the highest point on the course and you will have some nice views looking west over the valley. A good drive may give you an opportunity to go for it in 2, but avoid missing left. It’s no fun from the either the bunkers or the waste area.
Longbow’s home hole is one heckuva par 5. Anything right of center has a great chance to end up in an unplayable desert lie. You must favor the left side of the fairway. Once there, it is an intimidating second filled with a wash, bunkers and OB right. Big hitters can go for the right front portion of the green. If you are laying up, there is plenty of room to the left that is hidden by scrub brush in the wash. The green is large with a humpback in the middle, creating two distinct greens, each with their own humps and bumps. A two putt here is a job well done.
If you live in the Phoenix area or are planning a trip to the desert, put Longbow on your short list of courses to play. Pick the right tee box (a pet peeve of mine) and you will have a blast. Prices in the summer months can get as low as the mid $30’s and in the peak winter season can range up to the mid $150’s. Longbow can be found on GolfNow.com, so start your tee time search there.
As always, play well and hit’em straight!
Jay’s Note: Many thanks to Bill Risser, golfer extraordinaire, for giving us the scoop on Longbow Golf course! Check out his review of Las Sendas Golf Course!
Photo Credit: Longbow Golf Club