Mesa Country Club recaptures the spirit of Billy Bell’s original design

Mature trees, wall-to-wall grass and well-protected, fast-rolling greens create unique challenges for Mesa Country Club members.

After a careful renovation over the summer, Mesa Country Club’s members are rediscovering the joys and challenges of golf from a bygone era when shot-making and strategy reigned supreme over distance and power.

Their historic course was originally created by storied designer William P. “Billy” Bell back in 1948, and was widely considered among the finest golf facilities in the western United States.

However, advancements in equipment technology and a series of slight modifications by the club over the years had steered the golf course away from its original intent. The work completed this summer has allowed the club to recapture the allure of its original design and the members love the subtle nuances and superior conditioning of the new old course.

These changes – overseen by Tripp Davis & Associates – are clearly noticeable to the long-time members, but to the naked eye they meld seamlessly into the routing. Primary among the projects was the reshaping and enlarging of several greens to bring bunkers back into play and allow for more challenging hole locations.  The greens also were replanted with Tiff Dwarf Bermuda to ensure players of some of the best putting surfaces in the Valley. Other modifications included adding length to certain holes to counter advances in technology, thus requiring players to hit approach shots with longer irons. Additionally, fairway bunkers were added and/or moved to enhance aesthetics and playability and make hitting driver a more challenging endeavor for the longer players. The club also reworked cart paths and water features, all part of the effort to return the simple yet incredibly rich design characteristics of Bell’s original work.

“The feedback from our members has been incredibly positive,” said Bill Swirtz, Board President of Mesa Country Club. “We have some very accomplished players among our membership and the golf course is more than capable of giving them all the challenge they desire. Yet, the core design is still very enjoyable for those looking for a more accommodating playing experience. This tremendous flexibility is one of the hallmarks of Bell’s genius.”

Though sometimes overlooked in modern times, Bell was considered by contemporaries as one of the great golf course architects of his era. His career spanned the “Golden Age” of golf course design, from the early 1920s to the early 1950s. Among his first projects, Bell found critical acclaim, collaborating with his mentor, George Thomas, Jr., on such celebrated designs as Bel-Air Country Club, Riviera Country Club and Los Angeles Country Club in the 1920s. From the 1930s forward, Bell was one of the West’s most prolific golf course architects. Among his most significant designs were the La Jolla Country Club, both courses at Brookside Golf Club in Pasadena, and the San Diego Country Club. Bell also designed nearby Papago Golf Course in Phoenix.

In 1947, Bell was commissioned by the founders of Mesa Country Club to design the golf course for their new venture.  Bell provided routing plans for both a 9- and an 18-hole golf course. The founders were so impressed with the strategy and skill expressed in the 18-hole routing that they elected to have Bell finalize this design, even though it required the club to purchase an additional 13 acres of land from the neighboring McLellan family.  The resulting golf course has stood the test of time, delighting (and at times confounding) generations of Mesa Country Club members.

Billy Bell died in 1953, leaving behind his vision for the design of Torrey Pines. His son, William F. Bell, went on to make that vision a reality and oversaw the course’s creation in the late 1950’s.

Located along the borders of Tempe and Scottsdale in northwest Mesa near the intersection of the 101 and 202 Loops, Mesa Country Club is easily accessible from downtown Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arcadia or any city in the East Valley. Unique among its classic peers, Mesa Country Club skirts up and down the plateau from which the city of Mesa got its name, creating dramatic elevation changes throughout with deft twists and turns moving both right and left. Mesa Country Club’s golf course offers a completely “core-golf” layout with fairways lined by towering eucalyptus and pines, and with no intrusions onto the golf course by residential development. Though just 6,800 yards, the golf course puts up a tremendous defense of par with subtle movements left and right and lightning fast greens.

In addition to golf, the club campus includes three dining options, six lighted tennis and Pickle Ball courts, a junior Olympic pool, fitness center, and golf practice facilities.

To learn more about Mesa Country Club please visit or contact the club at or 480.964.1797 to arrange a tour.