How many places in Eloy can someone play a round of golf, eat a great meal, receive golf lessons, and have a beverage on a patio with a panoramic view of the mountains?
Not many. And one that almost immediately comes to mind for a lot of people in the area is San Miguel Golf Club.
First opened by the city in 1991, (new ownership has since taken over) San Miguel has been a destination for golfers for over 20 years.
The 18-hole par 72 course sees an average of 200 players a day and on even busier days can see anywhere from 250-270. It’s a very player-friendly course with four par fives and only three holes near or surrounded by water.
It’s lush greens, dynamic views, rolling hills and desert landscaping make San Miguel a unique experience unrivaled by many other golf courses in the region. San Miguel also has an all-grass driving range, which means no one hits off a mat, and a very large chipping and putting green always stocked with plenty of golf balls.
The Gallardo family bought San Miguel three years ago from another private owner and hired long-time friend and associate Alfredo Llamas in October 2012 to represent the ownership on site as general manager of operations. Llamas came from an extensive background in hospitality and golf management in Phoenix and Paradise Valley, Ariz.
“During my time at the Embassy Suites in Paradise Valley, they had a golf course there, I worked with big groups from China, Japan, or elsewhere that would come in and want to golf,” said Llamas, who also helped open the Embassy Suites on 26th Street and Camelback Road in Phoenix and the Hilton Phoenix Suites on Central Avenue and East Thomas Road.
Frank Trekell, director of golf and pro shop manager, said compared to Phoenix and Tucson courses San Miguel also has very affordable rates.
Nine holes of golf, riding on a cart, costs $26.50 per person, 18 holes before noon is $53 and 18 holes after noon is $38.75. These prices include green fees, cart fees and taxes. Full sets of clubs are also available to rent.
There are three sizes of buckets for the driving range. A small bucket is $3, a medium bucket is $4.50 and a large bucket of balls is $6.50. Golf passes that allow the customer to get 10 buckets for $35 are also available. The driving range is not lit however and is open only during daylight hours.
Trekell, who has worked on and off at San Miguel as the resident golf pro since 1997, also gives lessons and organizes a weekly clinic open to all every Saturday afternoon from 1-2:15 p.m. for $15 per person. Individuals interested in attending the clinic simply need to call ahead and reserve a spot.
“We have two instructors and we’ll get a third if it’s more than 14 people,” said Trekell. “We try to keep the ratio down so everybody has some one-on-one time with the pro.”
The instructors go over chipping, putting and full swing, as well as individual problems, issues or techniques each person may like to improve. Trekell said if the 1 p.m. clinic fills up they would have another session the same day at 2:30 p.m.
There are four instructors total at San Miguel including Trekell. Derek Aramaki, Adam Hancock and Ryan Porter run the clinic for Trekell and provide many personal lessons in addition. Hancock and Porter are both Eloy natives and Santa Cruz Valley Union High School alumni.
“It’s a good way to feel out if you like the professional and can continue personal lessons with him after that,” Trekell added. “It’s also a good tune up and a great way to practice. If something’s wrong, maybe even just a minor thing, you can say hey let’s work on this or let’s work on that.”
The San Miguel restaurant, which is “café Americano,” regularly attracts patrons who may not even be golfing that day. It’s open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and currently stays open until 7 p.m. every Friday for its weekly fish fry.
“On Thursdays we are working on having a prime rib dinner, and one more night we might add another dinner, maybe Mexican or Italian,” Llamas said. “People around here like our service and our food. On Fridays or any night we’re serving dinner we will stay open in the restaurant to 7 p.m.”
It’s not all sunshine for San Miguel though. The peak time for golfing in Arizona is just about any season other than summer, unfortunately that also means less daylight. But Trekell and Llamas are still happy to be getting in over 200 players a day considering the sun goes down at about 5:30 p.m. in January.
Maintaining the course itself is another key issue for San Miguel workers. Trekell estimates almost a million gallons of water are used to water the entire course in just one night in the summer. That number goes down in the winter of course, but other circumstances may arise such as fertilizer use, energy use, keeping the desert critters away from the plants, and just keeping the landscape and land healthy and beautiful.
“The superintendent has to be very knowledgeable, and ours is,” said Trekell. “A course this size usually has a staff of about 8-10 just on maintenance alone. We have seven right now and they all work extremely hard, but they have to. That doesn’t mean every other course around here isn’t having the same problems though, because they all are.”
Superintendent Michael Decrescenza and his staff maintain the grounds daily, including signature holes 13 and 8, two beautiful par threes. Hole number 13 is a long par three with an elevated tee box hitting across a lake onto the green. Hole number 8 is another par three, this one hit to the east with Picacho Peak in the background.
Trekell is confident as the area grows so will golf course attendance. He also is positive this time of year because of all the winter travelers that come to the Casa Grande and Eloy areas, sometimes almost doubling the population.
“We have some gorgeous evenings, and we would not take a backseat to anybody in ambience with our outdoor sitting area,” Trekell said. “The sun rising and setting out here is spectacular. And we’re so glad to be a part of the community, it’s a fun place.”
San Miguel has been playing host to the Casa Grande Regional Medical Center tournament fundraiser every year for the last 14 years. It will also welcome the Boys and Girls Club in April.
Trekell added that on military days San Miguel also fundraises for Wounded Warriors and plays host to tournaments that raise money for the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). In addition, San Miguel members raised money and toys for Toys for Tots, including over $1,000 plus seven large boxes of toys as well as bicycles.
Business Manager Carmen Prince helps organize these functions, as well as run the day-to-day business operations.
San Miguel Golf Club is located at 1505 N. Toltec Rd. in Eloy. For more information, contact the Golf Club at 520-466-7734.