Golf just one part of Encanterra’s success

La Casa at Encanterra, which debuted in 2010, includes 60,000+ square feet of indoor and covered space, and includes three pools, tennis courts, fitness, a full-service Spa, three dining options, events space, sprawling outdoor seating, and more.

Set with panoramic views of the Superstition and San Tan Mountains, a Tom Lehman-designed championship golf course sits at the heart of the award-winning Encanterra Country Club. The club is now a decade removed from its 2007 grand opening, and while the 18-holes of exceptional golf remain the crowing jewel, it is perhaps the addition of a multidimensional selection of amenities that have supported Encanterra’s success. 

The club, located just south and east of the corner of Combs and Ironwood Roads, was first lauded for its golf. Golf Magazine named it among its Top Ten Best New Courses, Golfweek bestowed a similar honor, and Avid Golfer named it the #1 Private Club in Arizona in its price category for four consecutive years. This was high praise for a course which, particularly at that time, was on the edge of what would be considered Greater Phoenix.

“Yes, a lot of people had to ask twice when we told them where we were,” explained longtime head golf professional Mark Black. (In addition to his role with Encanterra, Black has been a prominent member of the Southwest Section of the PGA of America for many years, and prior to joining Encanterra he led the Golf Management Program for Arizona State.) “These days we have to deal with that less since the Valley has grown so much, but we still know that if we don’t amaze people on their first visit, there’s a risk they may not come back.”

Evidence would suggest that the team is doing a great job of owning that first impression. Just last May, Encanterra surpassed 1,000 members, a milestone that few private clubs anywhere hit. Since then the momentum has continued, with the club now at more than 1,300 members, and interest remains strong.

For a club which was strongly rooted in golf culture (at one point the club was seeing a 60% conversion rate of home sales in the community to golf memberships), today only about a third of homeowners have golf memberships; the remainder join as social members to enjoy the tennis, spa, Pickleball, bocce, swimming, activities, and more. This trend toward a balance of golf and non-golf amenities is not exclusive to Encanterra.

Take Baker Ranch in Southern California, for example. In year’s past a community of this size might have absolutely included a golf course. Instead, the developers there chose to construct eight parks, and then complement those green spaces with dining, walking paths, bocce ball, climbing walls and ropes, hammocks, barbecues and more. Many of the owners there play golf, but when they do they enjoy a wide array of nearby options.

Golf Inc Magazine – a leading trade publication in the golf industry – recently led with an interesting feature discussing the six must-have amenities for a successful modern club. Making the list were: Scenic locations and quality clubhouses; Expanded practice areas and player development programs; Layouts designed to draw different levels of golfers; Restaurants designed to compete with outside dining spots; Other games and sports to attract more peoples and make better use of facilities; and finally, Spa and fitness centers.   

These six amenities – all of which are handled deftly at Encanterra – are perhaps the reason for the community’s consistent success. Four restaurants, four pools, championship tennis courts, Pickleball, bocce, an art studio, and other facilities offered within the club’s two activity buildings: the original “La Casa” and the recently added “Algarve” all combine to create a club experience which extends far beyond the white stakes of the golf course.

“Our Members here of course expect the golf course to be exceptional, even if they don’t play, it’s the first thing you see when you enter through the gates,” explains club general manager Rob Cowan. “But these days I spend more time working with the dining, spa, lifestyle, and activities teams than I do with golf. Now maybe that’s because Mark and Scott [Anderson, the club’s first and only golf course superintendent] are so strong, but we’ve got talent in all departments, so it’s probably more a function of where our member’s expectations are heading.”

Cowan joined Encanterra after a decade-long tenure with the Four Seasons in Dallas, experience which clearly serves him well. Visiting the club feels like visiting a resort, and maintaining the sharp attention to detail required by one of the world’s premier hospitality brands has clearly transferred from Cowan’s Four Seasons days.

“We certainly aren’t perfect, no operation is,” says Cowan. “But I think our Members believe that our team – from top to bottom – is trying it’s best to deliver an amazing experience every day. With that kind of trust, we are well positioned to be successful.”

To learn more about membership or available homes in Encanterra, visit