Biltmore Links

Arizona Biltmore GC. Links course by Bill Johnston, 1978.

I suppose a target style desert course would be less of a “links” course, but that’s about the only thing I can imagine that’s further from a links course than this.

The front nine makes a giant loop around the Adobe course, with mansions or lakes (or both) on either side of every hole. The fifth is barely 120 yards and yet is squeezed into such a corner that any shot not to the left of the green must carry OB and flirt with the huge trees that protect the home on that side.

The back nine heads up the side of the mountain and manages a couple nice moments—the 13th and 17th are fine par 4s where you feel like a wayward shot isn’t an impending lawsuit. But that nine also features the awkward 12th, where a blind lake interrupts the fairway, and the 14th, which is essentially a 90-degree dogleg with the second shot straight uphill and a stand of trees dominating the inside of the dogleg.

Part of what makes the experience so lackluster here isn’t simply the course itself, though I wouldn’t be a fan of it in any context, but the disconnect between a high end resort like the Biltmore and a golf experience like this. Of course, you end up paying for the name, which makes the flawed nature of the course even more galling.

Arizona 10th Decile [2013]

#15 (Credit: Arizona Biltmore)