Most golfers do not associate the northern section of Arizona with golf since, as soon as someone mentions golfing in Arizona, they think about Phoenix/Scottsdale area. A hidden gem in the northern part of Arizona, Parker to be precise, is a golf course called Emerald Canyon Golf Course.
Emerald Canyon Golf Course is quite often associated with Parker Dam that is just a few miles from the course. Parker Dam is just half an hour’s drive from Lake Havasu City. And Lake Havasu City is just a couple of hour’s drive south of the city of Laughlin, a mini Las Vegas casino center. Most travelers will likely do this in reverse order; that is, visit Laughlin for some gambling and stage shows, find accommodation in Lake Havasu City or Parker and, using this as the central point, do some serious golfing in this area.
Emerald Canyon Golf Course
The Emerald Canyon Golf Course should be the focal point of your golfing vacation from Lake Havasu. Nestled amongst the red rock canyons and plunging ravines surrounded by dense brush and sage, the golfer is treated to a spectacular round of golf. Built in 1989 by Bill Phillips, the course plays to 6,657 yards from the long tee, 5,989 yards from the middle tee and 4,756 yards from the short tee. The shortest tee at 4,756 yards is ideally suited for the shorter hitters; but owing to the uneven terrain (changing altitude) of the golf course, even this can be a huge challenge. The signature fifth hole, for example, overlooks a mini canyon with the tee box on one side of the hill and the green nestled at the foot of another hill. The par five seventeenth hole, playing at four hundred and sixty two yards (middle tee) is another memorable hole. The elevation change from the tee box to the green down below is probably about eighty yards. The only problem is that the elevation change is actually a vertical cliff with trees and shrubs guarding the foot of the cliff just fifty yards from the green. The decision one has to make is whether to go for the green on the second shot, or play it safe and lay up just overlooking the green. We can only emphasize again, that the relatively shorter length of the course is more than offset by the sloping and undulating surface of the greens.
The golf course is immaculately maintained. Due to the terrain, golf carts are mandatory to speed up play. There is a mat driving range, a putting green and a practice bunker. The Clubhouse, including the pro shop and snack shop, is relatively small in comparison to other resort courses.
As mentioned earlier, one of the places you’d want to visit is the nearby Parker Dam. Just one hundred and fifty five miles south of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, the dam produces electricity that services all three surrounding states, Arizona, California and Nevada. Looking upstream of the dam is Lake Havasu and on its shores, Lake Havasu City. The water level of the lake must be strictly maintained as mandated by the city.
For golfers who are just passing through to play Emerald Canyon, you may want to stay at nearby Parker. There, you can combine your gambling addiction, aside from your golfing, by staying at the BlueWater Resort and Casino. Or for just sleeping, the nearby Best Western may be the hotel of choice. Since we were on vacation, we opted to stay in Lake Havasu City. There are about ten suitable hotels/motels here ranging from the Hampton Inn to the Rodeway Inn. For dining, there again, are about a dozen good eating places. For Chinese, you would go to the #1 Dragon House Restaurant; for Italian, Angelina’s Italian Kitchen, or our favorite place to dine, the Barley Brothers Brewery and Grill, that serve good ol’ fashioned American cuisine.
Lake Havasu City is famous for the London Bridge, so called because the bridge that spans the canal to the island, was erected using some of the materials from the original London Bridge in England. Robert P. McCulloch (McCullough chain saw ) bought the original bridge from the City of London back in 1967 and transported some of the stone blocks and other material to Lake Havasu. The locals tell us, however, that not much more than ten percent of the original material is in the London Bridge at Lake Havasu.
Looking west, you will see the Colorado River and on the other bank, the state of California. The waterway is very popular for those who indulge in water sports; such as sailing, kayaking, speed boating and of course, fishing. Houseboats can be rented for cruising the canal and the lake.
Aside from Emerald Canyon, there are two main golf courses right in the city of Havasu;. the traditional style course named London Bridge Golf Course, and an executive type course called Havasu Island Golf Course. We found that this latter course tended to be the more popular choice as the players were mostly seniors.
Touring this northern part of Arizona, centering on a golf trip to Emerald Canyon Golf Course, one will be hard pressed to say which part of his trip will be the highlight. Certainly, the golf is paramount; but just north of Lake Havasu City; just a couple of hours’ drive north is the city of Laughlin, Nevada, a miniature Las Vegas. Unlike the city of Parker, here you have almost as many choices as Vegas in the number of casinos one can visit. The little town of Needles is another golf destination. We often laugh at our trip to Needles, California as we can say we had breakfast in California, went to the washroom in Nevada and burped in Arizona!
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