Founded in 1900, Phoenix Country Club moved to its present location in 1919. Thirty-seven editions of the Phoenix Open were held here up until 1986. The last substantive renovation was carried out by John Fought and Tom Lehman early in the new millennium.
What many people may not know is how much history Phoenix CC has made during its existence. The course was a continuous host for The Phoenix Open for many years -- the final time coming in 1986 -- with the event moving to TPC Scottsdale and since renamed the Waste Management event on the PGA TOUR. The course also hosted the Western Open in 1941 and 1942 and the 2017-2019 Charles Schwab Cup Championship which is also stated to return next month. The original course by Harry Collis opened in 1921 and for many years was the big-time draw for golfers when coming to the area.
However, in recent times the overall focus of golf development in the Valley of the Sun has been the Scottsdale area.
Credit the club's leadership in engaging the services of John Fought and Tom Lehman in updating the original layout in 2002. Tree canopies were pulled back, several greens restored and bunkers ably re-positioned to deal with equipment upgrades.
Phoenix CC was never a long course -- maxing out at just under 6,800 yards. Thankfully, Fought and Lehman did not attempt to include silly "new" tees adding more length that would only disturb the original intent. Given the snug nature of the property the original routing is quite good at getting to all corners of the property and having a good mixture of different holes.
Unlike the new-fangled desert courses built in recent times -- Phoenix CC is more of an "oasis" course with stately palms and other assorted trees lining the fairways. You don't have stark divide between land that's primed for golf and the natural desert areas. Playability is front and center at Phoenix CC but never to the point where shotmaking is diminished.
The least impactful of the holes comes with the 1st -- an opening par-5 that's really about stretching the muscles.
As mentioned, the routing has plenty of twists and turns so player adjustments are always called upon. Playability doesn't have to mean pedestrian holes and Phoenix CC clearly benefited from the updating Fought and Lehman provided. For those able to secure an invitation to play it's well worth seeing.
M. James Ward