Located in Tempe, minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, this Pete Dye design is more Scottish-links than it is desert. Built in 1989 and measuring over 7000 yards from the tips, the par 72 features many of the trademark characteristics that golfers have come to expect from his efforts. The fairways are of ample width, undulating, raised, and protected by ubiquitous mounds, moguls and swales. Bulkheaded water hazards, multi-tiered and partially hidden greens and sprawling waste bunkers round-out the overall design.
Pete Dye hasn’t been shy about combining his trademark railroad tie and fairway mound motifs with the indigenous hazards of the desert. The result is a course set in virtually level terrain that offers every lie imaginable: sidehill, uphill, downhill, et cetera. The greens are fast and true rolling, so “below the hole” is a good rule for the day. So, need we say that this is a challenge for the “serious golfer” yearning to test their shot-making skills?
Home of the powerhouse ASU golf team, the trophy case is adorned with pictures of former ASU standouts that have gone on to achieve fame and fortune on the PGA and LPGA Tours: Phil Mickleson, Billy Mayfair and Joanne Carner are only a few whose photos remind visitors of the tradition of excellence associated with Sun Devil golf. The golf course is named after the late Karsten Solheim, the founder of the Ping Golf Company.
The 9th and 18th holes are near mirror images of each other, sharing the same teeing ground and doglegging around the same body of water. The 446 yard par 4, 9th gently bends to the right and is protected by water on the entire right side from tee to green. Railroad ties frame the length of the hole against the water. Tee shots must travel a minimum of 200 yards to reach the contoured, yet generous, fairway. The approach requires a crisp mid-to-long iron shot, struck with the realization that anything drifting right will vanish to a watery grave. The green is 33 yards deep and guarded by two grass bunkers: one, front left and the other in back. A small, lone bunker is also situated behind the green to the right. The putting surface is two-tiered with the front third sloping toward the water.
The 471 yard par 4, 18th doglegs left around water from tee to green. Like its sidekick, railroad ties separate the fairway and green from its aqua-guardian. Those who over-protect against flirting with the water will contend with two medium-sized bunkers on the right side of the wide and undulating fairway 250 yards from the tee. The approach is an intimidating long iron shot to a skimpy 27 yard deep target tucked behind the water. The green slopes from back to front and is befriended by swales and mounding.
Long hitters will be faced with a decision right away on the back nine. A 233 to 270 yard shot will carry bunkers on the left of the fairway, making it possible to reach the par 5, 10th hole in two strokes or a bad drive will mean additional strokes. Trees are also on the left and three bunkers on the right. A fairway bunker is about 65 yards from the green to catch a second shot – so stay left for a good view of the green. The green drops off on the right of the green where there is also a bunker.
Many of the greens on doglegs are hidden by hills, making it even more interesting the first time you play ASU Karsten. Local knowledge is a definite plus, but for any skill level, you will be challenged by Pete Dye’s trickery.
Signature Holes: As you stand on the 16th tee at the ASU Karsten Golf Course, you cannot help being drawn in by the beauty of the hole. A lake on the right side runs the entire length of the hole guarding the right and front sides of an expansive green. The mounding on the left and back sides of the hole completes a picturesque setting.
Then you check the yardage to choose a club and realize that you have a 217 yard carry over water to reach the green. Your instincts say bail out left to ensure a par or bogey at the worst, your pride says I can make this shot.
Each year the most seasoned collegiate golfers face this same decision. This signature hole is truly a risk to reward situation. Which path will you select? The safe route to a bogey? Or the precise golf shot that could yield that precious birdie on the 16th?
Practice Facilities: There is a 20-acre practice facility. As you hit from the practice tee, you will see Sun Devil Stadium in the background. There is also a putting and chipping green.
19th Hole: While the ASU Karsten Golf Course is a Scottish style links course, the Trophy Room restaurant features a bold Southwestern flair. Seven days a week, hungry golfers as well as fans of fine food take pleasure in the Trophy Room’s flavorful breakfast and lunch menu. There is also a drink cart
Clubhouse: The golf shop is outstanding, being rated in the top 100 for the country for three years in a row by Golf Shop Magazine. The ASU Karsten Golf Course features a 2-story, 21,000 square foot clubhouse for dining before or after your game, a golf shop with plenty of logo apparel items to commemorate your round and meeting facilities for groups of varying sizes. Whether you are a “golden” Sun Devil fan or just shopping for one, you’ll always come out a winner. The golf shop offers everything from stylish men’s and women’s ASU sportswear to “Sparky” club covers.
Top 100 rated golf shops by Golf Shop Magazine 3 years in a row.
Designer: Pete Dye
Director of Golf: Daryl Crawford
Superintendent: Joe Miller
Head Golf Professional: Ryan Stanbauer
Guest Svc Mgr: Mike Bergman
Assistant Professionals: Brad Johnson, Stuart Parnell, Lane Johnson
Golf School: Ping Learning Center
Golf Lessons: Yes
Grass type: Rye grass winter and in the summer it is Bermuda
Recommended handicap: Being a link styled golf course there is grass from tee to green and by offering many different tee boxes, (even a forward tee box) the highest handicappers will enjoy the experience of playing at ASU Karsten Golf Course. However, don’t assume that the golf course is easy. From the back 2 tee boxes, Karsten offers golfers many challenges. The course is very tricky with deceptions on virtually every hole. Simply put, Karsten is a good choice for golfers of every skill level.
1 -10 Course Rating by Meridian’s Golf Specialists: 7 ½
Comments by Meridian Guests:
“Pete Dye is a master in deception. On one tee box I saw a sand trap on the left that appeared much closer then the trap on the right. After going to my tee shot I noticed the trap on the right was actually closer. I was amazed. There were many other times I had to do a double take because I was totally deceived.”
“It was a great choice. I played with my son who is a beginner and I am close to a scratch golfer and I found the course to be a real challenge and yet my son was able to really have fun out there, too. He did not lose a lot of balls and did not dig through the desert like he had to on our other rounds.” “One of the best designed courses I have ever played. The only negative was the high tension wires or should I say steel saguaros that were present on a few holes.” “I enjoyed the mix of holes, especially the water holes.”
“Wow! The last 4 holes were very challenging. Great risk to reward. With the money on the line I enjoyed watching my opponent get wet a couple of times while I played safe and stayed dry. If you can par the last 4 holes then you really accomplished something.”
The Drive: Centrally located, just minutes from the airport and only about 20 minutes from Meridian CondoResorts. A great choice to play on the day you arrive or the day you leave.