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Resort Report: Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort

By David R. Holland

PHOENIX, Ariz. – High atop Lookout Mountain Golf Club’s ever changing landscape is the 10th tee box – highest one in Phoenix.

The fairway is 175 feet below with desert left and a narrowing fairway right. A roadrunner appears just as we whack the ball hoping for a good bounce and good brakes on our golf carts.

It’s a serious descent and a vista to gawk upon. The panorama is a bird’s-eye view of Piestewa Peak, the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, and of course, Lookout Mountain. This hole measures 419 yards, a par-4 fun adventure.

Open to the public, Lookout Mountain has received Golf Digest’s four-star award for many years and has been rated by Zagat Survey as one of Americas Top Golf Courses. The club serves as the flagship location for the Hilton Golf Academy.

The golf is part of the Pointe Hilton Resort Tapatio Cliffs, a desert retreat in the heart of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.

“I enjoy playing golf at Lookout Mountain because it provides a great desert golf experience with unique holes that offer beautiful views and elevation changes as many of them wrap around and over the mountains. The course is usually in great shape with greens that are fast and true, a friendly staff. It’s centrally located, and greens fees are very reasonable compared to other top courses.  On top of all this, I don’t have to be a big hitter to play well here, which makes for an even more enjoyable round of golf in the Arizona sunshine,” said Larry Hoffman, Data & Analytics Consultant from Scottsdale.

Lookout Mountain’s storyline

Forrest Richardson, who always spins an interesting take, designed the course with Bill Johnston. Originally the land was site of the Mizzuno Quarry, and the resort is now part of a group of innovative resort properties conceived and built by Bob Gosnell.

The joint venture began back in the 1980s, Richardson says, and developers deemed the golf course as the resort’s anchor. Never one to be boxed in, Gosnell, looked beyond his land holdings to an assortment of state land, city land and odd parcels located north of the resort’s hillside setting.

“I wanted a “6-6-6” routing; six par-3s, six par-4s, and six par-5s,” Richardson said. “But this was not well received by the marketing department of the resort operation.”

In a terse memo to Richardson it was pointed out that “no one would take us seriously if we wound up with a course with six par-3s.”

Richardson tried his best to convince Gosnell directly that the golf course should come from the land, not the wishes of the marketing department, but Richardson lost the argument.

Later Richardson would write about the debate in his book, Routing the Golf Course, offering the conclusion that the golf holes should always come first, even when the marketing department feels otherwise.

The layout at Lookout Mountain

Originally scheduled to be a PGA Tour stop, the final routing sports five par-3s and they are all fun and interesting.

The course today is a par 72 playing to 6,515 yards. Look for a plaque on the 18th hole to commemorate the ESPN Skills Challenge formerly played at the site.

The course has hosted several other high profile tournaments, including a Senior PGA event and an ESPN Skins Game.

The short, but feisty 100-yard ninth, over an arroyo, will be a rewarding par if you keep your tee shot below the hole. Above the hole is much more challenging and could result in bogey.

The golf at Lookout Mountain is not as glitzy as Troon North, TPC Scottsdale or Grayhawk but that mystery makes this a hidden solid choice for locals.

The Resort

Pointe Hilton Resort at Tapatio Cliffs is a destination with a unique family atmosphere. Surrounded by expansive mountain views and blooming floral gardens and waterfalls, it offers all guests a relaxing and enjoyable stay.

Catch the sights of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve from the resort or get up close and personal with one of the guided hikes. Treat yourself at Tocaloma Phoenix Spa and Salon. To explore the valley or the whole state, a concierge service is ready to set you up with the perfect outing for you or your group.

Choose from a two-room Resort Suite offering the choice of one king or two queen beds and separate living area with queen sized sofa sleeper and mini fridge.

Upgrade to a larger suite when traveling with family or friends and indulge in our connecting accommodations featuring a two King Bedroom Suite Plus or four Queen Bedroom Suite Plus.

Different Pointe of View, the dining experience, makes fine dining an enjoyable and relaxed experience. Floor-to-ceiling windows showcase the dramatic views of the Valley’s desert landscape, the city’s twinkling lights and Arizona’s colorful sunsets.