By Molly Cerreta Smith
Rio Verde Country Club, nestled in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains and abutting the Tonto National Forest, is a hidden golfer’s paradise that is world’s away, yet just minutes from Scottsdale North.
Recently the Rio Verde Country Club completed a $3.75 million renovation that included a refresh and upgrade of the Club and its signature restaurant, to provide an outstanding member experience and to attract new members to discover the Rio Verde experience for themselves.
Formerly the Copper Room, the Box Bar Grille features a new kitchen and a stunning layout that offers diners fantastic views of the McDowell Mountains with multiple large windows that seamlessly meld the indoors with the outdoor environment. The ample patio provides table seating for dining as well as cozy and comfortable seating around multiple firepits, ideal for enjoying a meal and a drink before or after golf. According to David Benham, Membership Director, the open air concept of the restaurant provides a whole new experience for members and their guests.
Named for the Box Bar Ranch upon which Rio Verde sits today, the Box Bar Grille features traditional country club fare with a core menu of options as well as providing multiple nightly features for the “adventurous palette.”
Menu options include hearty fares such as Shepherd’s Pie, Filet Mignon with “voodoo sauce”, Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon with Brussel sprout-Spanish chorizo and Braised Short Rib Stroganoff.
While the clubhouse remodel certainly deserves attention, the golf courses are the highlight of Rio Verde. With 36-holes of traditional-style golf, Quail Run and White Wing courses offer a challenging yet enjoyable golf experience for players of all levels.
“Both are very walkable courses that are no longer built today,” says Darryl Janisse, Director of Golf. Redesigned by PGA pro Tom Lehman during a $6 million course renovation project just under a decade ago, each course offers distinct features so that members have an array of options when they play. Quail Run offers more elements of a traditional style golf course while White Wing is more comparable to a links-style course. Though nestled in a desert setting with spectacular mountain views, each course offers excellently maintained tees, fairways and greens.
The property itself pays homage to its desert environment and is respectful to both the land and wildlife here. Rio Verde is certified by the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses, an environmental education and certification program that helps golf courses protect the environment, preserve the natural heritage of the game of golf, and gain recognition for their efforts.
According to Audubon International, “The ACSP assists each golf course member to take stock of its environmental resources and any potential liabilities, and then develop a plan that fits its unique setting, goals, staff, budget, and time. Audubon International provides information to help golf course personnel with six key environmental components: environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation, water quality management, outreach and education.”
Certification is awarded to golf courses that meet these specific environmental management standards in each area, and Rio Verde Country Club is proud to be among them. “Yes, we have natural Arizona wildlife, but we live in harmony with them,” adds Janisse.
While many of the 410 Country Club members are also residents, the Club community does not differentiate. In fact, one of the most notable features of the Country Club environment is the welcoming sense of connectivity that takes place here.
Tonie Lindenberger, Marketing Committee Member of the Club, notes that it is very easy to get involved and to meet new people here. “The number one reason people join our club is the sense of community,” she says, adding, “People often comment on the old-fashioned neighborhood feel. No one is a stranger here.”
The community itself has just more than 1,000 lots and offers a number of vibrant reasons outside of golf to get involved, including the Community Center with pool tables, pickleball and tennis courts, bocce ball, a well-stocked library, and even a dance studio.
The community hosts fun events including comedy nights, high-end wine dinners, jazz nights, game show themed activities and more. There are also numerous clubs for people to join including those that enjoy horses, Jeeps, hiking, biking and so on. “We’re an extremely active community.” And first and foremost, Rio Verde is a golf community.
Among the golfers, there are women’s groups, men’s groups and players of all skill levels so no one ever feels as though they have to go at it alone. The Club also employs professional certified PGA instructors for private and group lessons. “We have our own teachers, our own clinics and our own fitters,” adds Benham. “We have a wide range of golfers when it comes to skill levels. Whether you carry a 2 or a 40 handicap, all golfers have a place at Rio Verde Country Club.”
Rio Verde Country Club is focused on providing its members, whether residents or not, with an unparalleled golf experience that is unmatched in the Valley. With so many golf courses and clubs to choose from, standing out from the crowd is what Rio Verde is all about. “We give people a reason to see what we’re all about,” says Benham. Another benefit is that Rio Verde includes trail fees and cart fees for its members.
Perhaps a hidden gem for many years, Rio Verde Country Club has dedicated millions in renovations to ensure that they are offering their members the very best experience around — especially on the course. So while its perhaps a local secret for now, the word is out.. and spreading.
For more about Rio Verde Country Club, the types of memberships available and additional amenities, visit www.rioverdearizona.com/the-country-club.