The Gold Course at Wigwam Golf ResortBy Rudy Erdmann • Aug 11th, 2011
A short ride west of Phoenix, The Wigwam has it all but I’ll give it a big gold star for the history it represents and what it’s done for golf in Arizona and the resort industry in Arizona. First built in 1918 and opened as the The Wigwam in 1929. its world-wide resort reputation is only highlighted by the three excellent Arizona golf courses (Gold, Patriot and Heritage) ranging from 6.000 to 7,400 yards. These golf courses were designed by renowned architects (Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and Red Lawrence).
The architectural style is Territorial Adobe which makes it uniquely Arizona-ish. The long list of amenities from 9 tennis courts, wi-fi, award-winning restaurants, spa, pools, fitness centers, water slide, meeting rooms, car rental, and cultural experiences and interpretations offer something for everyone. You can even get married on the signature wedding lawn. I’ll borrow a line from the brochure: “where casual elegance meets historic charm.”
Your elders most likely played there because the resort and its courses have been there since the 30’s but progress didn’t stop with its stunning success back then. Recent new ownership by Jerry Colangelo and JDM Partners and a $7 mil renovation has kept and invigorated the resort to its current championship and award winning excellence for resort amenities.
But today we came here to play golf. The ponds, canals, paths, fairways and greens were presented as if royalty was expected, absolutely splendidly. You’ll have to travel to experience so much grass and greenery in a single place. It’s refreshingly beautiful.
We played the 7,400 yard Gold Course. It has its challenges no matter your handicap but I say this for the benefit of those who enjoy walkable, climbable, grassed, mildly knolled terrain, a course where you’ll never have to climb a small mountain to retrieve an errant ball the wind took and ponds that let you see and retrieve your ball and towering trees that now offer shade and pastoral ambiance: you’ll enjoy the experience.
But let’s count some of the small features that define a great golf experience. The fairways were manicured to perfection, quite a feat in the middle of summer out in Arizona. The tee boxes were spotless and groomed. I stopped counting monster palm trees after 100 and the views were panoramic and pastoral. For the fun golfer, it would be difficult to slice or draw and hit a building or a walker. The holes are aligned to minimize any risk of hitting oncoming golfers on opposing holes. Losing balls was a non-issue (yeah!)
The bunkers come into play on most holes. The 1st hole has nine of them and so the course gets your attention from the first drive of the day. The 4th par five, 645 yard keeps your attention level peaked with its bunkers and rolling fairway. Then you get to the 8th hole; through the tree window, stay off the cart path when you’ve made it that far, stay out of the irrigation canal even thought the water is crystal clear! Now you’re relaxing until the 10th hole where the fairway zigs, then zags, the bunkers make that giant sucking sound and the ponds play a siren-song .
You’ve’ earned a refreshment from the drink cart at this point. Then comes the 3-par 11th : you just have to clear the water to hit the green, no problem; but this hole is just practice for the 3-par 16th since you now know how to clear the water to land on the green. Finally the closer 18th hole which has all the deterrents you’ve by now mastered; a canal, long fairway, bunkers, trees, cart path, bridges, a dogleg and rolling terrain. There is a hole with a pin in it up there, really.
It’s obvious to any level any golfer that the course was designed by a pro and meant to challenge while not intimidate. They got this one right.
Finally, the staff are experienced golf people that if I added up the years they’ve been in the business, I’d have to go find my calculator. But they not only mastered what matters in golf, but also how to make those of us who enjoy a great golf outing feel like we’ve just had one. Good work!
Almost forgot, when was the last time you saw ponds, streams and waterways with crystal clear water and varieties of lively fish swimming in them on a Arizona golf course?
The Wigwam Golf Resort
300 East Wigwam Blvd.
Litchfield Park, AZ 85340
Toll free 1.866-218-6941