Wigwam Resort, Litchfield Park. Gold Course by Robert Trent Jones (1964), with revisions by Forrest Richardson (2005) and Tom Lehman (2016).

The Gold course was built as “Arizona’s monster,” a Southwest version of Trent Jones’ Oakland Hills or Firestone and indeed it is unique in Phoenix—runway tees, tree-lined fairways, and small push-up greens. Richardson’s work “restored” the course and created a new 18th hole, which is a fun hole but feels out of place with the rest of the course. More recently, Lehman did some bunker work, re-positioning some and eliminating others, while adding length in a few places. The course now plays well over 7,400 yards with water in play on 11 holes.

Enjoy the third hole, 272 yards from the tips to a sliver of a push-up green. As if this wasn’t enough, Lehman felt it necessary to add a bunker to the front right of the green, so even running a shot onto the front is much harder than it once was. I’ve played par 4s that are shorter with bigger greens, but that’s what makes this a “monster.” Or maybe that’s the 17th, where a large tree about 9 yards from the tee guarantees that the only way to hit the fairway is to play a draw. No worries, the hole is merely 422 with water fronting the green.

Even from shorter tees, it’s a very difficult course and much tighter than most in the state. It’s an interesting change of pace and maybe a decent tournament course, but I can’t really understand why someone from out of town would come to Arizona to play a difficult course that mimics the difficult courses back home.

Arizona 5th Decile [2016]


Wigwam Resort. Red Course by Randy “Red” Lawrence, 1976.

Across the road from the other Wigwam courses, this is also a parkland course with big trees and water, but this one lacks everything that makes the Gold and Blue courses a draw. There are a few nice holes, but the place is showing its age. Of course the Gold is the resort’s centerpiece but a little money sprucing up the bunkers on the Red would go a long way toward making this course a lot more interesting.

I liked the sweeping dogleg right 13th hole, a par 5 that goes hard right around two bunkers and finishes at a small, shallow green. The following hole is a midlength par 4 with a green set nicely between bunkers left and a pond on the right.

But the finishing hole, a hard dogleg left par 5 with the fairway squeezed between two ponds, feels out of character with the rest of the course.

Arizona 8th Decile [2016]


Wigwam Resort. Blue Course by Robert Trent Jones (1965) with revisions by Forrest Richardson (2005).

This is sort of the “family” option at the resort, barely stretching to 6,000 yards. The current final four holes were added as part of Richardson’s work and while those are probably the best holes on the course, there doesn’t seem to have been any effort made to make them feel like the first 14. If you’re staying at the resort and unable to go anywhere else, I suppose it makes for a nice warm-up, or it’s a fun option if you want to have a lot of birdie and eagle putts.

The course starts off awkwardly with three par 5s and two par 3s in the first five holes–and all of those par 5s are reachable in two. The last par 5, which is again reachable, comes at the 10th, but after that you get three par 4s that are at least potentially driveable in the right conditions.

For all that, it’s still a classic era RTJ course. The greens are small, elevated and tilted. So if you start blasting driver around and you can actually have a long day here because those small greens can start to make you look silly, especially if a playing partner is hitting sensible wedges in from the middle of the fairway.

They did do a bunker renovation here within the past few years (so maybe there’s hope they’ll get the the Red course eventually?), taking some out and making the rest a more consistent shape and consistency, which helps the experience.

Arizona 8th Decile [2019]

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