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Positive changes abound at scenic Las Sendas Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona

By David R. Holland, Contributor

MESA, Ariz. - It's a craggy landscape that Las Sendas Golf Club occupies. Once, so harsh that a nearby landmark, Spook Hill, was named because rattlesnakes would come down and "spook" the horses and cattle on the many ranches.

Las Sendas golf course in Mesa - hole 6
The sixth green at Las Sendas Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz., is a haven surrounded by rough terrain.
Las Sendas golf course in Mesa - hole 6Las Sendas Golf Club - hole 2Las Sendas Golf Club in MesaLas Sendas Golf Club - hole 5Las Sendas Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz. - sunset

The past is colorful, the present is in rebuild mode and the future is going to be even more gratifying.

Located just 20 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport via the 202 Red Mountain Freeway, this area was once home to El Rancho Grande Dude Ranch that was a favorite vacation spot for John Wayne.

Hollywood also filmed westerns here with the rugged views of the Usery Mountains, Red Mountain, Camelback Mountain and the McDowell Mountains. Then there are the Superstition Mountains and that storyline about the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine and subsequent movies.

But today, Las Sendas Golf Club is in transition. It has new ownership, Lloyd McBean and Wayne McBean, and they can boast such past awards as Top 10 you can play (Golf Magazine) in Arizona, and at one time, Golf Digest said it was the No. 1 public golf course in Arizona.

"I think we are part of a new industry trend," said Lloyd McBean. "The golf course was in dire need of capital, it was going downhill and the homeowners in the area weren't getting what was promised."

Las Sendas G.C. went into receivership but with the McBean's purchase, it now is a debt-free facility that has an aim to go private. Immediately after the sale, "we sold 100 memberships in three weeks," McBean said. The goal is to cap membership at 450.

Las Sendas Golf Club: The Pathways

Las Sendas translated means "The Pathways," and its routing, born in 1995 by Robert Trent Jones II, measures 6,914 yards at par 71. Jones wanted a golf course that was for better-than-average golfers going back to his dad's philosophy that golf should be "hard par, easy bogey."

"We liked Las Sendas because it is a quality layout designed to create challenges from the desert and mountain landscape with elevation changes and some amphitheater-like green complexes," McBean said. "Ninety percent of the comments we are getting today are from area home owners who are thrilled with the improvements we are making and the quality of the routing."

The changes include a $2 million clubhouse renovation and expansion with restaurants, valet parking, complimentary limo service and an upscale experience that includes panorama of the valley back toward Phoenix.

The desert views from the patio are spectacular. It's a place you want to sit and enjoy the sunset and early evening situated at 1,800 feet in elevation.

Las Sendas Golf Club: Scenic holes

The fourth hole was one of my favorites. It's a dogleg-right par 4 of 430 yards.

A strong drive should be placed near an arroyo that dissects the fairway giving you an uphill approach to a green set adjacent to a mountainous upheaval. The backdrop might give you an illusion of the green being closer, but this is uphill, and it is easy to leave your approach short. The putting surface slopes strongly away from the hill.

The next hole, No. 5, is set against a rocky backdrop, a 194-yard par 3 with boulders to the right and deep bunkers to the left. It is best to aim for the center of this green - the top and bottom parts of the green sit higher than the center. Take your par and be happy. Anything short and right might be bouncing off boulders.

The par-3 holes, all five of them, were the most fun for me, but No. 18 was the trickiest. This par 5 has a panorama of the entire valley with the White Tank Mountains in view more than 70 miles to the east.

This 536-yard, double dogleg makes you think about the pond right and in front of the teeing grounds. Then if you hit a strong drive toward Camelback Mountain, you have a shot to go for the green in two, but it is all carry over a second lake.

Las Sendas Golf Club: The verdict

Plan to play this year, because you never know when the club will announce it is all private.

Las Sendas Golf Club was built to rival such standards as Troon North and Grayhawk and it has more mountain character - with elevation changes and even better scenery.

Play here when you have some time to slow down and enjoy the views and even explore the recreation areas in the Mesa area. It is a definite must-play for any travel golfer.

When it is time to practice, Las Sendas G.C. is affliated with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy and includes instruction from Mike Malaska. It offers the state of the art in golf instruction with all grass areas, including driving range, putting green and pitching-chipping area.

Dining includes Bogey's Steak and Seafood for upscale dining and Rusty Putter for a more casual experience.

Where to stay

Xona Resort Suites (www.xonaresort.com) in Scottsdale is a home away from home. I had a one-bedroom suite with full kitchen and access to laundry facilities, which is ideal when you are on a three-week road trip.

Other features include wireless high-speed internet, LCD televisions in living rooms and bedrooms, living room with convertible sofa-sleeper, pool, hot tub and in the main building there's Asada Desert Grille and the Orange Iguana for dining.

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • oh ya

    Drew wrote on: Jan 8, 2011

    Who cares about a damn limo? Prom was 25 years ago.


    • Limo

      Charlie wrote on: Feb 25, 2011

      Alice Cooper, Kenny G and Charlie Sheen would take the limo.


  • Way over priced

    Drew wrote on: Jan 8, 2011

    We played Las Sendas and were extremely dissapointed. The views were no better than Johnson Ranch (Half the price) and the customer service was terrible. Falling behind and get kicked off the course was in our heads for the first 6 holes. I've been treated better at Troon North, Grayhawk, Ocotillo, Johnson Ranch etc etc. These new owners must not have been through training regarding customer service or instill the training on their employees. People ask me about Las Sendas. I tell them two words..."A Joke."


    • RE: Way over priced

      Alan wrote on: Apr 24, 2012

      Wow you must have your head buried in the sand trap, come up for air. You can't even put las sendas and Johnson ranch in the same catergory. I play at las sendas often when I'm there in the winter, the golf is scenic ans challenging, the customer service great and price which is the same or less than courses of the same caliber. Every one I take golfing at any of the courses in the valley las sendas is in the top 5 courses they want to go back to, never hear lets go back to Johnson Ranch. You should be worried about being kicked off, slow golfers shouldn't be on a good course like this. You can go to Johnson ranch and have the gps tell u that you are falling behind the groups in front of you but you wait on every hole so you can hit and constantly have The pro shop sending you messages that don't make sense.


  • Las Sendas

    Sue & Mitch wrote on: Apr 3, 2010

    We were in Phoenix for my birthday, March 21st & my inlaws were taking us there to golf for the day.
    After arriving at the starters box, we were read the riot act on how we had to keep up the pace, don't fall behind, keep up to the members in front of us. If we fail to do so we will get a verbal warning if that does not work we will get a yellow card to warn us again & then may be removed from the course.
    After we had been well informed over & over again, the starter then gave us a sheet explaining the rules again!!!! As if he hadn't got his point across in the first 5 minutes of lecturing.
    That day the members ahead of us actually held us up at least 9 out of the 18 holes & they didn't seem to have been taken off the course.
    For the four of us that day at your course we spent over 550.00 & was treated very poorly from a course that is trying to classify itself as a #1 golf destination.
    We have golfed The Plantation Course, The Bay Course in Maui, we've golfed Palm Springs, Florida, Grey Wolf, Silver Tip, Stuart Creek, Eagles Ranch in Canada & other numerous high end courses & have never been read the riot act like we were at Las Sendas.
    I think you people need to remember who actually pays the bills at your course, it would be your customers.
    We were extremely disappointed!
    Sue & Mitch


    • RE: Las Sendas

      Bill wrote on: Apr 16, 2010

      I had not problems like Sue & Mitch at Las Sendas. Had a great day.
      Here's a grammar police tip for you. Golf is a noun. You play golf. There is no such word/verb as golfed.
      "We golfed Las Sendas is not English" ...


      • RE: RE: Las Sendas

        Alan wrote on: Apr 24, 2012

        Well said Bill. One of the elite courses in the valley and only getting better each month


  • Excellent story

    Bill wrote on: Mar 25, 2010

    I was wondering what was going on up there. Now I know. Spending money should help this place regain some status.


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