Wickenburg Ranch

Wickenburg Ranch G&SC, Wickenburg. Big Wick by Bill Brownlee and Wendell Pickett, 2015.

wick ranch
The risk/reward 6th tempts you to drive over water and bunkers

This course was actually built almost a decade before it opened; the financial crisis set it back. Eventually it was bought and opened as part of a Trilogy housing development—they softened the course in a few places, mostly grassing in a few wash carries, and put the clubhouse in a different spot. The immediate benefit of opening a new course that’s been in the ground for years is that it doesn’t play like a new course, the grass is established and the vegetation has settled in.

This course also benefits from the elevation of Wickenburg by being able to offer bentgrass year-round, which makes putting these greens a totally different experience. The greens are the course’s dominant feature, very sloped and often featuring numerous and severe tiers. They work strategically better on some holes than others, but they certainly keep your interest at all times (I’ve seen more 4+ putts here than anywhere I’ve ever played).

The course traverses a hilly site with some dramatic holes, although they work really hard to emphasize downhill tee shots and so carts are a must. The 2nd is a fun par 3 with the green set down in a bowl—it will probably see a good number of holes-in-one, though it’s sort of a shame no one who makes one will see their ball go in the hole. The 9th is a severely uphill hole but handles the hill as well any I’ve seen anyone manage; they built spots to stop balls from rolling back without making the hill look too much like a staircase, but I think the infinity green that falls away so quickly behind the green is overly penal for a hole where most players will be hitting long, blind shots in. The 11th might be my favorite hole here—a bunkerless par 3 across a low area to a boomerang shaped green where your best option might be to play to the high left side, except woe be to you if you leave your ball above the hole. The 17th is another good par 3, again from one high point to another, where the green sits nicely in a saddle.

The plan is that eventually this will be a member-only course but, even as fast as they’re putting up houses, it’s likely to be some time before that vision is fulfilled. Trilogy builds “active adult” communities and after playing several rounds with members of that demographic, I wonder how many retirees would really want to play a course like this day in and day out. There’s a ton of elevation change and the course is tough, the greens especially. For now, they not only offer a good course for public play, but they space out tee times and really limit play, which helps it stay in excellent shape.

For all that, though, while there are some good half par holes here, there’s not too much about this course that is really particularly strategic. Lots of downhill drives to wide fairways that don’t favor one side or the other and then shots into greens where most of what you’re trying to do is keep the ball below the hole so you don’t 3-putt, or worse.

Arizona 2nd Decile [2018]


Wickenburg Ranch G&SC. Li’l Wick by Bill Brownlee and Wendell Pickett, 2017.

A nine hole par 3 course built into what I believe was originally supposed to be the course’s driving range, until the clubhouse location was moved and holes renumbered. This course is wildly fun. I wouldn’t drive over an hour from my house to play any par 3 course, but I’m looking forward to going back here as much as I am the big course. The greens are wild and huge so the nine holes can play in a lot of different ways, based on how the hole locations move, and there are some fun “unofficial” holes to be had here as well, if space allows it. I’d be here all day if I had a home in the area.


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