FLORENCE, Ariz. -- There's no way around it: Poston Butte Golf Club is geographically challenged.
The par-72, 7,282-yard golf course is about 90 minutes southeast of downtown Phoenix and the axis of golf that is north Scottsdale.
It's located in the middle of nowhere. Okay, that's not true. It's in the town of Florence, which might as well be nowhere for folks who believe the golf experience in the Valley begins and ends in Scottsdale.
"We do have a tough time getting people to make the trip down here in the summer," said Poston Butte Head Professional Glenn Stevenson.
That's a shame, because those who make the drive will play a golf course that is both enjoyable and challenging.
Poston Butte Golf Club's best attribute? It's not a true desert course, so golfers who occasionally spray a wayward drive won't have to dip into the ball bag for a replacement.
"It's a lot easier to find the ball around here for sure," Stevenson said. "Our desert is not overgrown like a lot of courses you'll find in north Scottsdale. That's one aspect that's nice for everybody. If you do miss it with the driver, you can find it and play it."
The Gary Panks-designed course isn't a walk in the park, not at nearly 7,300 yards long. All four of Poston Butte Golf Club's par 5s are at least 544 yards from the tips and No. 3, a dogleg right, comes in at a monstrous 616 yards. Four par-4 holes measure more than 460 yards.
Thankfully, Panks blunted the golf course's length by giving golfers breaks around the greens. So many desert courses feature huge pot bunkers that require players to try to hit flop shots. But at Poston Butte, the areas around the greens are shaved. You'll putt from off the green just as often as you'll use your wedge.
"For the length, the golf course is very forgiving," said Steve Smith of Tucson.
One of Poston Butte Golf Club's unique attributes is that it has five tee boxes. There are gold, black and white tees for the men, green tees for the ladies, and a set of red tees (5,803 yards) for older golfers or women with low handicaps.
The golf course builds slowly but finishes with a bang. No. 16 is a 433-yard, par 4 and No. 18 is a dogleg right par 5 (564 yards) with a narrow green that's protected by two bunkers.
No. 17? That's the signature hole, a 169-yard, par 3 with an island green, reminiscent of the 17th hole on the Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass.
"It certainly strikes me that way," Stevenson said. "The last three are definitely great holes and a great way to finish."
Because of its location, Poston Butte Golf Club never will receive the notoriety -- or the play -- of the Valley's marquee courses in north Scottsdale. But it's a quality track in great condition -- the greens are particularly receptive -- and worth a look if you don't mind spending a couple of hours in a car.
If it was anywhere other than Florence, Poston Butte Golf Club would get a lot more play and accolades. Panks did a terrific job making the course difficult because of its length but playable thanks to the shaved areas around the green. And the island green on No. 17 is a kick -- unless, of course, the wind is blowing.
August 20, 2010