Los Caballeros

Los Caballeros GC, Wickenburg. Greg Nash and Jeff Hardin, 1979.

A really nice layout on a beautiful rolling piece of land. To their credit, most of the best holes here feel like they work more because of where they are than because of any features the designers imposed. In fact, in some places the designers could have cleared a few more trees and the holes would be as engaging thanks to the terrain and the views. This isn’t a wide course, so when the wind blows it can be tricky to keep the ball in play, but this high desert country offers a decent chance to find a wayward ball.

My favorite holes are two par 5s—the 5th and the 13th—that traverse wild terrain—on #5 you drive down to a low area and then play back up to a perched green. 13 tumbles downhill for several hundred yards, then a brief hill crests around 120 yards out from the green, which sits atop another hill. If you hit a good drive, you can try to leave your second shot at the top of the first hill for a good view of the green, or you can try to get closer, but leave yourself an uphill pitch.

The entire closing stretch is excellent, though they could remove half the features (water, sand, trees, Joshua trees) on the 16th and it would still be as good of a hole. I also really liked the 2nd, which uses a downhill sloping fairway, a single tree and a well-placed bunker to give the golfer several options off the tee. The course is showing its age—if the greens ever had much shape they’re basically circles now, though well-maintained and still with good slopes in them. And the bunkers look like they’re from the 70s—again, nicely playable but their look says tired more than classic. A green and bunker renovation could make this a top flight course in the state.

Arizona 3rd Decile [2016]

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