By the mid 1980s, Papago Park in Phoenix — designed in 1963 by Torrey Pines’ William F. Bell and the site of the 1971 U.S. Public Links — was a tougher tee time to obtain for an out-of-towner than any of Scottsdale’s snootiest clubs. Then it all went wrong.
Inattention and a lack of funds took its toll, and Papago Park sank into disrepair. In early 2008, however, city officials decided to mount the kind of rescue mission that worked at Harding Park and Bethpage Black. The course was closed for extensive renovations, and then reopened in December to much praise.
The tired turf has been replaced, 30 bunkers have been added, the green sizes and contours have been restored, and the trees that obscured the views of Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak have been removed. With the addition of 300 yards to the tips, Papago now clocks in at an impressive 7,333 yards.
While it may never host a U.S. Open or Presidents Cup, there’s already talk about other events. But all of that isn’t really relevant, because Papago wasn’t rescued for the pros, but for the people. The top rate here is $109 for visitors ($84 walking on weekdays and just $44 for locals). That’s not a deal — it’s a steal.