The two little runways at Falcon Field in Mesa, Arizona are busy with takeoffs and landings distracting or amusing players at Longbow Golf Course across the street.
Named for the Apache Longbow helicopter, the course was originally developed by McDonnell Douglas for corporate use and later sold to Daedalus (named for the Greek mythological hero and innovator once said to have crafted wings of flight to escape the labyrinth prison which he had originally designed).
When additional acreage was acquired, owner Bob McNichols called back original course designer Ken Kavanaugh for some modifications.
Ken said, “Oh great, I get a mulligan. I always wanted to change a couple things if I had more land.” The result is a course that now holds over 40 professional, amateur, junior, corporate and charity golf events each year.
Longbow Is Perfect For Golf Connections
Both Bob and Ken were on hand to play in the Symetra Pro Am in March when we were honored by an invitation to play.
We were paired for nine holes with Madison Pressel. Then she handed the baton to Caroline Westrup and advised her “not to mess up our score.” No worries, that 7 under per nine in this field would make the middle of the pack. While Madison had big sister Morgan paving the LPGA path, Caroline’s dad was the golf team coach for Sweden and then for Norway. PGA Pro Henrik Stenson was her babysitter and still calls her often.
Two years ago during the Symetra Tournament we hosted Celine Herbin for dinner along with her caddy and coach Vicente Ballesteros. It’s pretty cool now to watch the movie “Seve” and see some of brother Vicente’s dinner stories play out on the screen. It was even better watching Celine win the French Open later that year and reconnect when she’s in town for the LPGA or practice. Golf can be such a strong connector in life and Longbow is the perfect conductor for those connections.
Just ask the many pros that have emerged from junior events at Longbow to become champions, like Rickie Fowler, Stacy Lewis, and the beautiful Heather Farr whose life was cut way too short. One of the premier AJGA stops is now the PING Heather Farr Classic presented by Longbow Golf Club.
It’s All About The Game of Golf
Surrounded by not so distant mountains, desert blooms pop Easter egg colors in the springtime as tiny prairie dogs and roadrunners scamper about. This is a serene desert scene where the canopied patio of The Grille serves food, drink and atmosphere overlooking the range and 18th green with a mighty warrior statue aiming his longbow, a symbol of strength and distance.
Mr. McNichols says, “Everything you see here is a story. There is a lot of symbolism but above all is the intent to make the game great.”
He takes pride in sponsoring events for youth to grow the game. A man that is serious about the business of golf beams when junior golf is mentioned. Mesa boasts the largest first tee participation in the valley, which costs only $100 per year while the Youth on Course program has 300 kids from Mesa Public Schools that pay $5 per round. That’s just one reason why Longbow stories will never end.