GC at Dove Mountain, Marana. 27 holes by Jack Nicklaus, 2009.
Formerly the Ritz Carlton GC and home to the WGC Match Play for several years, this is a course that was built to test the pros, so you can imagine what it does to resort guests. Every facet of this course is challenging—there’s elevation change, length, lots of forced carries and washes, and some of the most undulating greens you’ll see (the pros whined about these so much that Jack came back and softened them after the first year, but they’re still pretty wild). Rounds tend to be slow on account of the difficulty.
But for all that there’s something about this course I love. For one, it’s absolutely beautiful, with holes tumbling down a hill through a forest of saguaros then working back up and others tucked away in canyons with mountains towering above. The pros played the Saguaro and Tortolita nines, and the Tortolita especially has some holes back against the hills and in a canyon that are just so quiet and beautiful that you almost don’t mind how hard they are.
The 6th on the Tortolita was a driveable par 4 for the top players in the world, but it can be a beast for average players. Sure, it’s not long, but you have to cross a wash, negotiate a black hole centerline bunker some 50 yards short of the green, get over the green’s false front, and figure out how to make a putt. That’s the best birdie chance!
The Wild Burro nine gets closest to the Ritz and climbs the mountain a little more steeply than the other courses, but also offers some good holes. I’m not sure if Nicklaus softened the greens on that nine, since they weren’t a part of the tournament. They’re seriously wild.
The good news is after this course beats you up, you can comfort yourself in knowing that it did the same to the pros, who could only get around here because they were in a match play event.
Arizona 1st Decile