Desert golf is not created equal when it comes to Arizona courses. Some are so unforgiving that it’s not fun for the everyday golfer.
Luckily, Longbow golf course is the perfect mix of desert golf but also still playable if you happen to spray one right or left. Unlike a lot of courses in the area, the desert is just compact sand (with the occasional cactus) so you can find and play it.
As of 2022, it’s now a Troon course and continues to be one of the best public golf courses in the area. Keep reading to learn how to navigate this desert course and why it’s such a good choice in the Phoenix area.
Longbow golf course is a public track located in Mesa, Arizona. It’s only about 20 minutes from Phoenix and Scottsdale and the location helps keep rates down, especially during peak season.
The course is a par 72 and plays 7,050 from the tips. The course almost plays like a links style course with its firm fairways and sometimes rock hard greens. It’s also wide open and exposed so you’re likely to get some winds, especially in the late afternoons.
Plus, it’s right next to a private airport, so planes are flying over your head all day. It’s actually kind of a cool experience and you get to see some nice private jets too.
Let’s dive into the specifics of the golf course…
Unlike a lot of golf courses in Arizona, there isn’t much to see when it comes to first impressions at Longbow. You just drive into the parking lot and walk through a small clubhouse/cart barn area. But don’t let first impressions dissuade you from the golf course because it’s a great place to tee it up.
Once you check in and get ready to play, you can decide to take a normal golf cart or their Golfboards. These boards have four wheels and make it fun to zoom around the course instead of a normal golf cart.
Then, head to the driving range to warm up and take advantage of their TopTracer technology. They also have a good-sized chipping green and separate putting green which closely relates to the greens on the course.
The front nine is about 200 yards shorter than the back nine so try to get off to a hot start if you can. While there are some good birdie looks on the back nine, it’s the harder of the two nines.
Here are the best holes at Longbow:
I hope you have a good warm up because the first hole is the longest on the golf course. It’s over 600 yards from the tips and plays long from any tee box.
Luckily, it’s usually downwind and the fairways are normally very firm. I’ve even hit a good driver and 3-wood to find the dance floor from the tips, but it’s not often.
Make sure to miss the desert left so you have a chance to go at the green or get a better angle for your layup. With your approach, short is a better miss as long is a really hard up and down.
Depending on what tees you play, you might be able to see the water left, if not, just know it’s there from about the 150 yard marker and in. Luckily, there is a ton of room right if you need to bail out on your drive.
The second shot isn’t much easier as that water from the tee shot runs the entire length of the hole. The green is very deep so make sure to notate the pin location and club up or you could have a very long putt for birdie. Missing left means water, while right is bunkers so focus on the middle of the green!
The 9th hole at Longbow is a long golf hole from every tee box. It also plays uphill, normally into the wind, and you don’t get much roll out on your drives.
The second shot is elevated too so make sure to club up. I’ve found it plays 5-7 yards more even if you aren’t hitting into the wind. The green is enormous too so make sure to double-check the pin position to give yourself the best chance of par.
If you make a five, it’s not the worst score as there is desert all over the hole.
The 12th is a good par 4 but you need to hit a good tee shot to take advantage of the hole. If you’re a big hitter, driver probably isn’t the best choice off the tee. If you hit it too far, you’ll find desert and a tough second shot over a dry creek bed.
Try to leave yourself about 120 yards away and miss left over right on your drive. Then, plan your approach accordingly as the wide green slopes hard from back to front. With a good drive, it’s only a wedge in and should have a good look at birdie.
One last thing, don’t go long on your approach, there is nothing good back there!
I love this hole because if you hit a good drive, it’s a very reachable par five. But it’s not a wide open fairway by any means; you have a huge bunker left and tons of desert right that you need to avoid.
If you find the short grass, you should go for the green in two as it plays downhill. While there are tons of bunkers left, there is plenty of room short and missing right is okay as well. It usually plays downwind too so plan for some bounce and try to make a birdie.
After the reachable par five, you get to tackle the long, challenging par three 16th hole. It’s long and the tee box pretty much aims you at the huge bunker short of the green. Avoid this trap at all costs as it’s deep and a very tough up and down even for skilled players.
The play here is to aim toward the right center of the green, even if the pin is left. Since it’s such a long hole, you probably can’t stop a long club quickly to a left pin anyway. Instead, aim right, play for a par and move on to the 17th which is a good birdie chance.
My best shot of the day came on hole 15. After pulling my drive slightly left, I had 245 yards from the fairway bunker. The wind was a little behind me and I took out my Titleist driving iron and hit it pure from the sand.
Longbow golf course gets a rating of 8.5 out of 10.
It’s a great public golf course that has tons of character to it. From drivable par 4s, to long par 3s, and amazing risk-reward par 5 holes; it’s a great test of your game. Plus, you get to navigate the desert, planes overhead, and tricky but fair greens.
What’s In the Bag
- Driver = Callaway Triple Diamond Rogue ST Max 9.0 – adjusted to 10.0 with “D” setting with Project X HZRDUS Smoke 70 gram shaft (X-Flex)
- 3-Wood = Callaway Mavrik Subzero 15 degrees with 80 gram Project X HZRDUS Smoke 80 gram shaft (X-Flex)
- Hybrid = Titleist TSi3 with Project X HZRDUS Smoke 90 gram shaft (X-Flex)
- Utility iron = Titleist U500 4 Iron (23 degrees) with Project X HZRDUS Smoke 100 gram shaft (X-Flex)
- Irons = Callaway Apex TCB 5-AW with 115 gram Project X IO shafts (X-Flex)
- Wedges = Titleist Vokey SM8 (56.10 & 62.8)
- Putter = PXG Operator
- Ball = Titleist Pro V1X
Should You Play Longbow Golf Course?
Yes, it’s one of the best-priced courses in Arizona, likely due to the location.
It’s still pretty close to Phoenix and Scottsdale, plus it’s always in good shape. You get to play desert golf, but there is still enough room for errant drives and each hole has tons of character.