Location: Litchfield Park, Ariz.
Course Architect: Robert Trent Jones Sr.
Tee – Yardage | Rating / Slope:
Jones – 7,430 yards | 74.5 / 135
Combo – 7,025 yards | 73.1 / 132
Championship — 6,830 yards | 72.3 / 130
Club — 6,348 yards | 70.0 / 125
Saturday morning green fee: $$$ ($100-$139, in season — mid-January to mid-April)
Caddie service: No
Walker friendly: Yes
Fairways: Bermudagrass (summer) | Perennial ryegrass (in season)
Greens: Bermudagrass (summer) | Poa trivialas (in season)
Starter: Wigwam Golf Resort and Spa's Gold Course has hosted qualifiers for the U.S. Open and Mackenzie Tour - PGA Tour Canada, along with the Patriot All-America Invitational collegiate event. The course is a mature, tree-lined, parkland-style Robert Trent Jones Sr. design that features sweeping fairways, challenging — but fun — bunker locations, and generous bailout areas. Greens are mostly large with false fronts and quick, but readable, speeds. Goodyear Tire retained Jones to build an answer to his Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, and that’s what he did. A recent update by British Open champion Tom Lehman, a Phoenix-area resident, has made the course more relevant to today’s player. One example is the reduction of bunkers from 89 to 37.
Play because ... : The Gold Course is one of the premier old-fashioned public courses in the Phoenix area. Despite its desert locale, the course is as green as any found in the upper Midwest, Florida or California — a nice change of pace for golfers looking for a respite from desert golf.
Takeaway: Some golfers will dismiss the Gold Course because it does not embrace the desert aesthetic as much as more modern Phoenix-area golf courses. Nor is it quite the breathtaking top 100 course worthy of a cross-country flight to the Land of the Sun. However, for seasonal visitors and for those staying at the newly-renovated Wigwam Resort, it provides an exceedingly enjoyable and challenging round. Some might actually call it fun.
RATINGS [1 to 10 scale, 10 being the highest]
Food | beverage: 6.5
Pro shop: 6.0
Pace of Play: 8.0
THE COURSE | Scorecard
Best par 3: No. 11 (190 | 190 | 163 | 144 yards)
The slightly uphill tee shot is over water to a horseshoe-shaped green that has a round pot bunker in the middle-front of the green. It’s an intriguing design that makes a golfer think twice about the approach. A tee shot to a middle pin must be long enough to carry the bunker and high enough to hold the green that mostly pitches back to front. The right side of the horseshoe extends back toward the tee, an inviting bailout for those who cannot play over the bunker. Tee shots that are not struck soundly enough will find the false front and roll off.
Best par 4: No. 15 (366 | 366 | 354 | 323 yards).
A classically-designed short hole that favors a tee shot to the fairway’s left side, which provides a better look at the green on the approach. Losing the tee shot to the right means having to avoid pine trees and making a difficult approach to a kidney-shaped green fronted by two smallish bunkers. The ideal second shot is to the center of the green, but it is difficult to hold. Bunker shots are very steep and golf balls can slide back to their original location if not properly carried. Par is a good score.
Best par 5: No. 1 (548 | 548 | 533 | 506 yards)
This hole features a wide fairway with a sweeping vista that highlights the towering trees at the corner of this slight left dogleg. The trees’ branches disrupt an otherwise easy second shot to the green. The preferred tee shot lands on the right side of the fairway, which allows for an unobstructed lay up or, for big hitters, path to the green in two shots. The green is bordered by bunkers right and left with a chute in the middle for those who have laid up accurately. A smallish green that is about 30 feet deep tilts from back to front, a theme that will be repeated across the course.
Rated by: Barry Cronin