Coldwater GC, Avondale. Forrest Richardson, 2000.

This is a flat, housing development course where the only landmarks are power lines and roads, but there are enough unusual holes here to keep your interest. In particular, the course does a great job of featuring contour as the primary challenge, rather than sand or water. In other words, it looks boring from an aerial, but wild from the tee box.

Take the second hole, a 530-yard par 5 where the only notable feature that will show up on a satellite view is a small pot bunker that guards the front right side of the green. But stand on the tee and it’s a whole other story. The fairway is plenty wide enough for your drive, but you still want to keep to the left because a huge hill cuts in from the right so any drive in the right half of the fairway is met with a blind second. Meanwhile the second half of the hole is dominated by a huge hill on the left, so any third shots from the left half of the fairway will be coming in from a hanging lie. But if you play to the flatter right side of the fairway then you have to come in over that lone bunker. There’s no right way to play it, just options and tradeoffs. It’s a wonderful hole and yet it’s accomplished with one small bunker and ground movement.

Then at the 6th you get a totally different kind of par 5, a huge sweeping left-to-right dogleg. Challenge the bunkers along the right side, or hit a strong cut that follows the curve of the fairway and you could have a mid iron into the green. Fail to pull it off and you’ll pay the price.

Looking back down #6 (Credit: Golf Pass)

I also like the 11th, a par 5 that bends hard to the left. This is a much longer hole and plays really long if you do not challenge the left side because shots that miss the fairway to the right run down into a low area that makes getting back up on top with enough distance to still get home in regulation a challenge.

The green at #11 shows off the significant contour at Coldwater (Credit: Golf Pass)

But maybe my favorite hole here is the 14th, a punchbowl par 3 with a big mound right in front of the green. Unfortunately, the 16th hole is a bit too similar to the 14th. They’re fine holes, just a bit too alike, right down to their yardage and placement in the round.

Over the years, this course has struggled mightily with maintenance. As of my most recent trip, the greens were all in good shape, fully grassed and rolling. The fairways all had grass even if generally not very well conditioned. The bunkers, few though they are, didn’t really have any sand in them. This is not great but counts as a victory given what reports of conditions sometimes have been over the years. There are fun holes here, but a course is only as good as its playability, so buyer beware before booking.

Arizona 8th Decile [2018]