Anthem at Merrill Ranch
Address: 6100 Merrill Ranch Parkway
Florence, Arizona 85232
General Manager: Josh Clay
Head Golf Professional: Jerry Bellew
Course Superintendent: William Mellinger
Course Designer/Architect: Gary Panks
About This Course:
18 Holes of Championship Golf – A Troon Golf Experience
Par 72 – 7282 yards from the tips
Rating/Slope: 74.1/127; 72.1/123; 69.5/121; 72.9/125; 69.4/119
by Alice and Danny Scott
Ready for a road trip? Head east and keep going past San Tan Flats and the wild horse crossing sign. When Hunt Highway turns into a two-lane road of old and housing developments are interspersed with pure desert terrain, keep going. Turn on Merrill Ranch Parkway and admire the cascading waterfalls on both sides of the grand entrance to Poston Butte. Well worth the ride (which is much shorter on the return as the memories are relived), this very playable Gary Panks design holds no pranks.
Get there in time to loosen up and find your stroke on one of the largest practice greens in the valley. The driving range with balls included sets the stage for sweeping views of Superstition Mountain, the San Tans, and a range of smaller buttes. Walker Butte to the west appears strikingly like Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Seen from many spots, players might suspect it to be the namesake Poston Butte, but that one can be pinpointed behind the parking lot. Charles Poston is buried at the base of this pyramid that served as an Apache worship center. Convincing Lincoln to name our state a territory, he became “Father of Arizona” and is commemorated by pyramid shaped tee box markers on every hole.
Hole #2, par 4, 471 yards from the tips – This is a straightforward par four but a very long one. Distinctive is the majestic Superstition Mountains backdrop. Reach for the mountain on your drive for any chance of green in regulation. Most hitters will fall short of that and face an up and down for par. Bear up because this hole is followed by a long par 5 in the same direction. Keep reaching and enjoy the view.
Hole #9, par 5, 544 yards from the tips – Salute the flag waving above the new clubhouse and bring the front nine home with a sweeping dog leg left bordered by bunkers on the outside of the elbow. Find the green, steep and deep, either wishing or glad you spent time on the practice one first. A bratwurst at the turn will fuel the back nine.
Hole #14, par 4, 460 yards from the tips – This is a feel good, score well on the card hole and the only one absent of bunkers. Homes on both sides of the tee box serve up a gallery on a nice day. Not so on our unusually crisp 34 degree start when the cart gal’s best tip was our Hot Hand warmers. A comfort station further rewards golfers after the green.
Hole #17, par 3, 169 yards from the tips – Let’s face it; we’re all suckers for island greens, delivering illusions of TPC Sawgrass. This is perhaps the “hole” reason so many people play here. It is a short and precise shot but long on beauty. A wooden bridge serves as the walk to glory or doom, passing fish jumping and a sundry of aquatic birds feasting, floating or fanning their feathers, including the canvasback, a rusty headed white duck. Many a hole in one is celebrated here. There are however, definitely more balls in the water than land on the green. Go for it!
All fairways are lined with sleeping golden Bermuda and outer layers of lava rock colored gravel sprinkled with desert foliage making lies easier if a great drive slightly misses the green grass, thereby extending acceptable target areas. Brilliant greens are fast and smooth. It is a quality ‘Troon Golf Experience’ from course maintenance to attentive staff service by folks like Amy.
The Greenside Café has always offered drink specials, sandwiches, or salads delivered quickly in a lovely patio setting. Watch players practicing encompassed like an arena by the surrounding mountains. Now the full service Anthem Grille is open 11am – 8pm every day with brunch hours added on Sunday and happy hours M-F. The daily full menu, other specials, tee times, flyover course tour, history and more is available on their extensive website, www.postonbuttegc.com. Add Poston Butte Golf Club to your calendar.
By By Nancy Howard
If you want some championship golf as well as a scenic drive through the desert foothills, head on out to Poston Butte Golf Club in Florence. There are two directions to hit the links at Poston Butte however my favorite is off I-10 at exit 185 just before Casa Grande. It takes you on the most serene and scenic drive through the desert foothills untouched by man, the way the eyes should see our beautiful landscape in Arizona. When you arrive you are ready to hit the links for some challenging golf.
The fairways are wide and lush, greens are slick and not so easy to read, bunkers are a true challenge, water hazards intimidate and even with seven tee boxes to choose your best yardage this course is not going to give anything up easily, as my team discovered during our round. The course is in absolutely excellent condition.
Golfers are able to get a glimpse of the historic fire temple resurrected in the 1800’s by Charles Poston from an Apache ruin on a butte nearby capturing the spirit of golf in the southwest. Stacked stone walls, and red rock accentuates the course layout throughout the landscape while bunkers stretching from tee to green offer up a round that will surely bring you back time and again to try to meet this challenge.
With the front nine basically in the desert with wide open spaces and multiple views of the Superstition Mountains, a breeze can turn into more of a ‘Texas breeze’ which means a ‘good wind’ to add to your golfing experience. The back nine calms down immensely. Of course, wind always makes your round more exciting, fun and challenging, in my mind. Keep it low and don’t try to kill it is what we Texans were taught on the links.
Major comment from our team toward the end of the round was this, “Ya know, even though the course was hopping with activity, the pace of play was absolutely marvelous…never had to wait one second for our shots the entire round”. Now that’s something to say during the Valley’s peak season. Outstanding golf course management from the Poston Butte/Troon Golf team. Kudos to you for that!!
Poston Butte Golf Club recently unveiled the newest amenity to the community of Anthem at Merrill Ranch: The anthem Grille. The new dining establishment is 6,000 square feet of spacious dining area that indoor seats over 130 guests. For sports lovers, the Grille is adorned with eight 65 inch, flat screen, high definition televisions, surround sound all showcasing the latest sporting events, golf tournaments and more. For those that wish to dine “al fresco”, they can enjoy a huge outdoor patio seating, which also accommodates more than 100 guests and overlooks Poston Butte’s 18th hole. Patio comforts include built in heaters and fireplaces during the winter months and cool breezy fans in the summer.
The anthem Grille features a new “quick casual” concept that provides for efficient service in a fun environment that connects neighbors and provides for a great post. There are no servers, guest place their orders upon arrival, grab any seat that suits them and their food is brought to them efficiently. Plus no waiting for your libations as you take them to your table once you have ordered.
The menu offerings are varied but feature American fare favorites such as burgers, sandwiches and salads. Note: Even our team’s pickiest food critic stated that his food was wonderful, that in itself means the fare can be enjoyed by all! With the average sandwich and side priced at approximately $9, the Grille provides a dining value appealing to a wide audience.
The anthem Grille is open for lunch and dinner with an all-day menu and is also available for special celebrations and gatherings. Currently they open at 11am with last seating at 8pm.
Hole #17, par 3, 169 yards from the tips – the island green is the Signature Hole and one cannot not mention it in a review. Out of no where pops this gorgeous island green with a bridge leading to it. Only advice we offer is club up one so your nerves don’t try to kill it or you’ll donate to the slightly used ball distributors. It’s a hole you will remember fondly or mumble about until your next round. This is a hole to behold!
Yes, it’s a drive to arrive at Poston Butte but make the most of it and enjoy the scenery on the way for the best golf venue at the best price with the best challenge. Make Poston Butte the next course on your list and a day of it…you will definitely put it on your list for many reruns in the future. And, of course, Arizona Golfer has Poston Butte on their ‘Must Play’ list.