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  Papago Golf Course
Papago Golf Course

Papago Golf Course has carved out an amazing legacy since opening in 1963. Designed by famed golf course architect William Francis “Billy” Bell, who is best known for designing the legendary Torrey Pines Golf Club in La Jolla, Calif., Papago quickly became one of the finest municipal golf courses in the country.

Papago’s biggest claim to fame was hosting the 1971 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. It also hosted a number of qualifying events for the Phoenix Open, and was the place to play for young up and coming local junior golfers like Billy Mayfair and the Farr sisters, Heather and Missy.

Throughout the years, Papago hosted nearly 90,000 to 100,000 rounds of golf annually. It became so popular that golfers began camping out overnight in their cars just to secure tee times for the following day.

Over time, though, the wear and tear on the golf course began to take its toll, and the City of Phoenix could not keep up financially with the golf boom that Phoenix experienced during the early ‘90s. Once the pride and joy of Arizona golf, Papago soon fell out of favor with some locals and could not attract the out-of-town golfer looking for that prime Arizona golf experience.

That all changed last year, thanks to a renewed interest from the City of Phoenix to give Papago a much needed facelift. The City of Phoenix partnered with the Arizona Golf Association and the Arizona Golf Foundation, a non-profit arm of the AGA, to undergo a massive restoration project that would elevate Papago Golf Course back to the high standards of golf that it once held. This aggressive restoration project was led by renowned golf course designer and former Augusta National Superintendent William “Billy” Fuller, and included returfing of all the greens, tees, fairways and rough; the installation of a new irrigation system; removal of trees to improve sight lines and views; and the reshaping and adding of bunkers. The course was lengthened nearly 350 yards, and now will play anywhere from 5,404 yards to 7,333 yards from four different tee boxes. After visiting Papago for the first time, Fuller immediately understood the rich history and character of the layout and stayed as close to Bell’s original design as possible, while still addressing the much needed improvements for the course. The superb layout that people remember so well stayed intact for the most part, only now the fairways are much improved, the greens are back to their original shape and size, and the stunning views of the nearby Papago Buttes, a signature of Papago Golf Course, are prominent everywhere on the course.

Fuller and the restoration team did a remarkable job restoring this once great golf course in such a short time frame. Papago officially re-opened to the public on Dec. 6, 2008, just eight months after shutting down for the restoration. There are some additional upgrades scheduled in the upcoming months, including the addition of a cart barn, a new learning center and a halfway house complete with on-course restrooms. There also is some additional landscaping and tree removal that is ongoing, but the majority of the work to the golf course itself is complete. But the once-famed course is definitely a player in the Arizona golf scene once again, ranking right up there with some of the best courses in the state. Add to that its extreme value, and Papago is a must play for locals and visitors alike. Winter rates for Phoenix City Cardholder members are only $44 (plus $15 for cart), while non-cardholders pay only $109 (cart included), a fraction of the cost that you will pay for the higherpriced courses in nearby Scottsdale during the high peak season. See for yourself what everybody will be talking about in 2009. For tee times or more information on Papago Golf Course, go to or call (602) 275-8428.

Course Amenities:   Public •