Tonto Verde Golf Club – The Peaks Course

Tonto Verde Golf Club – The Peaks Course
  • Golf Director: John Kieber
  • The Peaks Course Architect: Gary Panks and David Graham
  • Par 72 – 6737 yards from the tips
  • Slope/Rating:  71.8/133; 69.9/126; 67.5/122; 70.1/119; 68.8/115; 67.2/106
  • 480-471-2710
  • 18401 El Circulo Dr.  Rio Verde, AZ 85263

Past the Pecan Grove, via Forest Road, over desert washes, behold an oasis of golf and a whole lot more in Rio Verde. Just 10 minutes north of Fountain Hills is a setting that will astound you. Walk through the club house door, down the hall to the veranda for a panoramic view that defies any desert imaginings. A dual lake with an immense tree and gushing waterfalls in the center, lines the 18 hole putting course where odds are evened for non golfers and charity dollars mount for such causes as the recent Sunshine Acres. On Wednesdays the Lady Putters League of 130 uniformed members rule the course.

Beyond the fun mini course, the Fort McDowell and Mazatzal Mountain ranges, including Four Peaks, paint the horizon. This setting is so serene, one might wile away the day on the veranda, but two full golf courses, The Peaks and The Ranch, beckon. This is a private club that was developed and turned over to members but allows public play, alternating between the available courses each day. There is even a renter program for a stay and play experience.

 The Peaks Course

Hole #4, par 5, 572 yards

Belt the drive down the fairway without checking the card and you may be surprised when you come upon the big gold wiffle golf ball mounted on a pole in the fairway. It actually denotes a wash separating the fairway and if unlucky, it may indicate your lie as well. This number one handicap is the first of such divided holes making you wiser to course strategy.

 Hole #5, par 4, 351 yards

What you see off the tee box is not necessarily what you get. It is long, but visually deceptive. On the left side, an obvious lake protrudes into the fairway along with a large bunker. Deep right, another lake is introduced to the mix, demanding drive precision to the narrow channel. Longer hitters beware. A well placed drive of 225 to 250 leaves a short iron to the back sloping green which is guarded by a transition area and deep bunker bordering the lake.  This fun hole defies depth perception.

Hole #13, par 4, 305 yards

If you have visions of kicking a winning field goal, this is the hole for it. Two centurions serve as the goal posts off the tee box, a tree on the left and an intimidating 30 foot saguaro on the right, requiring an accurate shot as the poor saguaro’s millions of ball dimples can attest. The fairway opens up for a short iron over a transition area to a generous green. Keep your head down and don’t think about Scott Norwood!

Hole #18, par 4, 397 yards

Breathe deep and scan the horizon as the mountains have peaked on this gorgeous grand finale. Carry over the desert with the driver and carefully select the correct club for an accurate approach shot. Aim to the right center of the green which slopes to the water for best chance of par on this finishing hole. The sound of the waterfalls in the deep blue lake brings you back to the comfort of the clubhouse.

 Mainly mid-western snowbirds migrate to the adult community of Tonto Verde, for winter respite. It is remote for a reason – unparalleled solitude with a strong sense of camaraderie and fun as evidenced by the table display in the clubhouse with golf gear, including shoes, promoting rival teams such as the Packers, Vikings, Badgers, and more. The pool and exercise room offer varied activities by day in addition to golf. Star gazing by night is primo as no city lights interfere. Chef Keith presides over private dining and the lounge /restaurant main menu with chicken corn chowder, second to none that will warm your soul.

Golf director John Kieber, a sommelier and all the personnel share a kindred spirit of hospitality. Even the on course rough is friendly.  The Peaks Gary Panks and David Graham design provides enough challenge and breathtaking views to warrant play over and over again. The never ending beauty will bowl you over and make any golfer as happy as a javelina among the purple prickly pears.

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