As with each iteration of The Match series, the host course becomes part of the story, and The Match 3 is no different. The Stone Canyon Club is set to host Phil Mickelson, Charles Barkley, Peyton Manning and Stephen Curry Friday, and viewers watching at home will really get their first look at the property.
One factoid that viewers will likely learn about is that this course wasn’t always destined to host made for TV events. In fact, it was Mickelson himself who helped save Stone Canyon from financial ruin.
The mid-2000s financial crisis hit the golf industry particularly hard, and Stone Canyon was no different. As detailed in this feature by BizTuscon, the club was included in a family trust and longing for a true golf owner. Would it find one and thrive as a result? Nothing was guaranteed in golf course ownership in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
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As it turned out Mickelson was exactly the type of owner Stone Canyon needed. He and his longtime agent Steve Loy were working together on Mickelson Golf Properties, investing in courses that had lost investment and struggled through the tenuous period. Most of their investment took place in Arizona, where Mickelson called home during his collegiate days at Arizona State.
While Stone Canyon is located in Tucson, home to rival University of Arizona, Mickelson loved the property and imagined adjustments he could make to increase its playability. So when the price was right, in 2014, Mickelson added Stone Canyon to his portfolio of courses.
“Stone Canyon was a risk for us at first because it’s such an elite property,” Mickelson told BizTuscon. “We had to create an environment that made you want to come here. I think it’s been a success because it’s able to sustain itself. It’s not losing money, but more than that, we’ve created an environment where people want to come here.”
While that environment won’t be entirely on display Friday, aspects of it will surely be shared over the broadcast. Like the 25,000-square-foot clubhouse that was unveiled in 2016. If you tune in to The Match 3’s broadcast Friday evening, Mickelson will undoubtedly make clear the other work that has taken place to raise the stature of Stone Canyon. GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Course ratings panel are certainly impressed. Stone Canyon ranked as the 13th-best course in the golf-crazy state of Arizona. Not bad for a repurposed and renovated course and facility!
The future for Stone Canyon looks bright with Mickelson’s team at the helm. When asked for his thoughts on how the course (and others he owns) will be improved, Mickelson offered this: “My big underlying theme is making golf an enjoyable experience where you want to spend more time at the club rather than hurry up and get back home.”
We can get behind that.