Golf Director: John Kieber
The Peaks Course Architects: Gary Panks and David Graham
Par 72 – 6737 yards from the tips
Slope/Rating: 71.8/133; 69.9/126; 67.5/122; 70.1/119; 68.8/115; 67.2/106
Tee Times Reservations: 480.471.2710
18401 El Circulo Drive
Rio Verde, Arizona 85263
By by Alice and Danny Scott
Nothing sings “spring” like Tonto Verde Golf Club in April. Eight miles north of Fountain Hills, this is the winter haven of choice for many wise and active people. Two diverse full courses and a bonus 18 hole putting course extinguish any fears of boredom, especially when you add the variety of traveling leagues, reciprocal course play and innumerable activity clubs.
The Ranch Course is the longer and more challenging, named for the original ranch spread which still features a stable where many residents board their equestrian friends. The enveloping vista is what gives golfers a pause after good or bad shots. Verde means green in Spanish and there is plenty of green to be seen, but a sunny day brings a kaleidoscope of colors in the flowers, majestic peaks, butterflies and bright red cardinals.
Hole #1, par 4, 403 yards - Approach the tee box for immediate immersion into peace on earth with the rambling green fairway spattered with desert flora and fauna. The stunning range in the background includes Four Peaks and a fabulous view of the distant Weaver’s Needle seeming so close. It’s unbelievable how far you can see. This straightforward hole can set the stage for a great score.
Hole #7, par 3, 171 yards - Next to the tee is a featured tree on a natural pedestal. Aim at the green’s right side as the left bunkers act like vacuums. The desert beauty is only diminished by an unsuccessful search for the errant ball. Watch out for the lizards on the cart path or there might be one less.
Hole #14, par 4, 317 yards - What a pretty water feature! But the score can be ugly if you don’t plan your strategy. Short by distance, it can be long by play. Calculate your yardage to carry the ominous fairway bunkers, layup in front or land right where there is more room than appears.
Hole #17, par 5, 531 yards - Safety first on this hole as reward for the risk will be a rare commodity. Check the layout to decide on your drive. The left side has a very expansive desert area to cross over to reach the green. The right side affords no luck to reach in two, but, with a second fairway winding around the desert, careful planning to miss the bunker on the third shot will position for par which on this hole is a proud mark.
Tonto Verde has a friendly atmosphere and very accessible member tee times. With over 300 male golf members and 150 female, the goal is to cap at 500 or so in order to maintain the availability for play. Tonto Verde is debt free and will be completely member owned by July, 2011, the same time that new golf director, Alan Vallecorsa will begin. According to member Mary Bloom, who also serves on the board, women are equal citizens. The varied leagues for women and men are scheduled between the courses throughout the week, still permitting open play for the non leaguers. Since the HOA maintains the clubhouse, the golf membership price is among the lowest and could be the best value in the valley. Golf Inc. magazine selected Tonto Verde as the first place winner in the Remodel/Renovation category for their Clubhouse of the Year competition. Inside is a southwest motif with luxurious leather touches and bold chandeliers, looking to the outside lake and panoramic view beyond. Lunch on the veranda is serene but with bold menu flavors. Service is great, with a sommelier on staff to help select from the long wall of wine bottles.
It’s easy to fit into the community, with a club for everything under the sun. Card clubs, craft clubs, book clubs, ping pong, hiking clubs, or stick with your golf clubs. Transportation mode is your personal golf cart, saving gas when socializing or even going to church. The fun in the sun, a luxury clubhouse, great food, and spectacular views will draw anyone to live here. Since summer is slow as most residents migrate to cooler climates, it is a great time for the public to play at low rates. Call the pro shop for price and tee times.