You can’t call yourself a true fan of Frank Lloyd Wright if you have not visited the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix, the only hotel with his signature. Located just 20 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), the Arizona Biltmore offers everything you could want in a resort, including two golf courses at the adjacent Arizona Biltmore Country Club: the Links Course and the Adobe Course.
Golf has a long tradition at the Biltmore, even among some of the resort’s famous honeymooners. While honeymooning with Carole Lombard, Clark Gable lost his wedding ring on the Adobe Course. (A Biltmore concierge found it!) Ronald and Nancy Reagan also honeymooned here.
The Adobe Course was my challenge. Built in 1928 and designed by course architect William P. “Billy” Bell, the original Adobe Course was commissioned by William Wrigley, Jr., of chewing gum fame. (Hole 8 s nicknamed “Mr. Wrigley” in his honor.) Recently, the Adobe Course was renovated to the tune of $4 million. Trees were removed to return the course to its original state. Unusual original designs, such as the fairway bunkers with fingerlike caps on Hole 7, were restored throughout the course. At the same time, today’s playing standards were taken into consideration. Holes 15, 16, 17 and 18 had the most change — some had to be moved slightly to accommodate the construction of new condominiums on the course and others were enhanced to be more challenging. Hole 17 is a totally new hole due to the changes.
Off the course, the resort is wonderful, offering rooms of every type from suites to bungalows with two bedrooms, a living area and a kitchen. In addition to golf on the hotel’s two courses and its 18-hole putting course — free for guests — there are more than 30 other golf courses in the immediate area. Additional onsite activities include lawn games (croquet, putting green, lawn chess) hiking and horseback riding. The Biltmore Spa and fitness center are excellent, as are the resort’s dining options. The Wright Bar — birthplace of the equila Sunrise — was recently expanded to include an outdoor seating area with fire pits for those cool Arizona nights. Wright’s at the Biltmore restaurant, under the direction of Executive Chef Michael Cairns, offers fine New American cuisine.
Hole 3 – Big Fish (397 yards, par 4)
Drive your ball down the center of the fairway for a mid-iron shot to the green. The key is to clear the large pond that protects the green and to avoid the trap on the right. Like most of the greens on this course, this one putts true with little break. Many of the greens have little elevation so you can easily roll your ball in front and roll on.
Hole 6 – Barnacle Bill (486 yards, par 5)
You will need a strong drive off the tee and your shot will have to avoid the trees that line the right side of the fairway. Your second shot will have to be a long fairway wood to the green, which is reachable in two. Two traps guard the green, one right and one left. Note the impressive multi-million dollar house behind the green: It was under construction when I played.
Hole 8 – Mr. Wrigley (473 yards, par 5)
Your drive off the tee should be aimed left of center of the fairway. Be sure to avoid the cluster of palms on the right, which will make your second shot tricky — another grouping of palms lies about 65 yards from the green. Two bunkers guard the green left and right and there is a slight up-slope to the right of the green.
Hole 9 – Bank on It (145 yards, par 3)
One gigantic bunker guards this green from balls that stray left, and a smaller bunker lies to the right backside of the green. Play well as the gallery at the Adobe Grill is watching!
Hole 10 – Cut Off (340 yards, par 4) This hole is a slight dogleg to the right with bunkers that lie on the right side, one larger followed by a smaller one, which runs up to the green. Big hitters can catch the first bunker, so it is best to drive to the left side of the fairway.
Hole 12 – Pit (178 yards, par 3)
Depending on your tee box, a 6 or 7 iron should get you to the green, but a back pin placement may require an extra club to reach the pin. A trap guards the green, which has a slope to the back.
Hole 16 – Figi (141 yards, par 3) A huge bunker to the left front of the green means that you must be sure to make the green. Four pampas grass plants grow in the center of the gigantic trap, making escape from this hazard more difficult. There is also a small pot bunker on the right of the green. This hole is one that was redesigned in the recent course renovation.
Hole 18 – Peak (494 yards, par 5)
A creek runs along the entire right side of this hole and cuts in front of the green as it meanders into a small pond near the green. A bunker on the right side of the fairway is about 245 yards from the tee box (less from the regular tees). Another bunker lies about 310 yards out for errant second shots. Bunkers on the right and left protect the green, which is elevated in the back, so pin placement is key.
ARIZONA BILTMORE RESORT & SPA
2400 E. Missouri
Phoenix, AZ 85016
tel 602 955 6600
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