Water saving at Lookout Mountain


Water saving at Lookout Mountain
Sean Dudley

The Lookout Mountain Golf Club at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort in Arizona is to undergo an environmental transformation this autumn.

Taking the place of three ponds on the course will be new hazard complexes comprised of bunkers and native desert waste areas. The change is expected to save more than ten million gallons each year.

Phoenix-based golf architect Forrest Richardson, the original designer of the course, along with Senior Tour player Bill Johnston, was brought back to integrate the new hazards into the natural desert layout. The ponds were added shortly before the course’s 1987 opening. “The original intent was minimal water and a natural, desert setting,” said Richardson. “But just as the course was being finished, a directive came down to add more water.”

Lookout Mountain hosted the Senior Tour in its debut year. Bill Johnston worked with Richardson on the design, and was instrumental in landing the prestigious event. Richardson points out that the addition of the lakes was bittersweet. “On one hand they added good drama for television, but they also resulted in a very penal finish for those of us who don’t play the Tour,” he said.

The holes in question, the fifteenth, sixteenth and eighteenth, have decorative ponds that lose thousands of gallons of water each day to evaporation. The course has been actively working with the City of Phoenix on water conservation measures for the past several years. “This conversion project is a major step in this process,” said Richardson. “Plus, it will be great to see the spirit of the original design returned to the course.”

Lookout Mountain is one of only a few Phoenix-Scottsdale resort properties to have golf holes winding through desert preserve land without adjacent houses. Twelve holes of the 6,600 yard course play through or along preserve land, giving golfers uninterrupted views amidst canyons and rugged mountain hillsides.

The ponds will give way to hazards of sandy washes, stepped bunkers and a new terrain of drought-tolerant, desert plants. “We’re putting the desert back, but we’re making sure the golf remains fun and challenging,” said Richardson. “The new holes will encourage risk-reward shots, but players will now have a chance to recover. The opportunity for recovery is essential in golf, especially on the home stretch.” The work will be handled by Signature Golf Builders.