Sanctuary Golf Club – Better Bring Your “A” GameBy Bailey Mosier • Jan 8th, 2010
My oldest brother John flew to Phoenix to visit me one weekend earlier this month. He made a stop over in Phoenix en route to Mesquite, Nev. where he was going to play in the Nevada State Open. I knew I needed to take him out for a round that would challenge and fine-tune his abilities in preparation for his event the following week.
We played at the Sanctuary Golf Course at West World and I have no doubt that it was just the right course to present challenges that would test my brother’s skills.
Sanctuary Golf Course Head Pro Greg Wilson says his golf club is in the heart of Scottsdale, and says that that’s one thing that really makes it appealing for golfers in the area. I live in downtown Phoenix, so when my brother and I set out that Saturday morning to head to the course, I was very thankful I had GPS on my phone to lead us to the tee. If you’re from the Scottsdale area and know your way around, getting to the course will likely be a stroll in the park for you, but if you’re like me and are coming from any other part of the Phoenix metro area, I advise you print out your Google map directions before you leave the house or utilize the GPS system in your car or on your cell phone. I know mine saved us.
We got to the course ahead of time and the starter was able to get us out a few minutes early. We were paired with a jovial twosome—one a new member at Sanctuary Golf Course and the other his friend. They were all for having a relaxing, fun time and they made sure my brother and I were going to have an enjoyable experience as well.
John and I overheard the two of them placing bets with one another, so we suggested the Mosiers play the two of them. After they saw our tee shots on hole No. 1, they declined our offer.
I know I mentioned a GPS system being crucial to finding the course, but I’d also offer the suggestion of placing a GPS tracking device on your ball before you go out. This is not a course for the average player who expects to show up, have a few beers and slap it around the course and still break 90 or even 100. John and I brought our ‘A’ games (after all, John was preparing for the Nevada State Open the next week) but we both had trouble maneuvering our way around the course.
Head Pro Wilsons says, “The key to this arizona golf course is the tee ball.” I agree one hundred percent. Standing on the tee box of nearly every hole on the course, your vision of the hole is obstructed by mounds, bushes or elevation changes. I suggest you pair up with a local, because I know it helped John and I to have a member tell us where to aim and what trouble areas to avoid.
But, if you’re not paired with a member, I advise you utilize this helpful tip from my brother: “Can’t go wrong playing at the 150 stake all day long.”
The 18 holes at the Sanctuary Golf Course require you to play target golf and you won’t always be hitting driver off the tee. A lot of holes require good course management and force you to really focus on the middle of the fairways. The fairways are surrounded by a little bit of rough and a lot of desert. Long hitters won’t have an advantage on this course, especially if they hit their ball sideways at all.
If you didn’t get enough time to warm up on the range, No. 1 is a hole that you can likely get away with hitting your driver a little less-than-perfect. To the right of the fairway is a sloping backstop that if hit there, will likely spit your ball back into the fairway. Just be careful not to hit the ball too far right, or you’ll be searching for your ball amongst thousands of range balls. Find the fairway on this hole, and a regulation par is likely.
If I could see the average score on No. 2 for all those who play it, I would have to guess it to be no better than a bogey average. The second hole has a split fairway with a bunker dividing the fairways. Depending on where the pin is placed and what kind of approach angle you want to leave yourself with will likely determine which fairway you aim for. The problem doesn’t so much lie in placing your ball off the tee, but rather, once you’ve reached the green, how many putts it takes before you can retrieve your ball out of the cup. The green on No. 2 is very large and very angulated. Unless you get your ball on the proper shelf of the green, a 3-putt is probable. Everyone in my group had at least three putts (ok, full disclosure—I was the one in the group with FOUR putts—it wasn’t pretty).
No. 8 is the signature hole at the Sanctuary at West World. It’s a par-3 that stretches 234 yards from the tips, and even still a monstrous 191 from the white tees. This par-3 is surrounded by water short and to the right of the green. There’s enough water on this hole to make even the most seasoned golfers nervous of spraying it a little off target. It truly is a testing and captivating hole and I challenge all golfers to birdie it!
No. 11 is a great birdie opportunity hole. The hole slopes down away from you, and while you can’t see the entire fairway from the tee box, this fairway is expansive and tough to miss. From there, you’ll likely have a wedge or short iron into a green that sets below your feet. This green is average in size and while it mildly slopes back to front, a well-placed wedge shot could leave for an easy uphill birdie putt.
No. 15 is easily drivable for long hitters. I know my brother pulled out his driver and aimed it just to the right of the green where it came to rest in an area right of the green but left of a greenside bunker—precisely the place our member playing partner Jeremy Schlosser told him to aim for. This is the likely collection area and aiming point off the tee because short left and in front of the green is a bunker. So getting it into that crevice on the right in between the green and the right greenside bunker is an art. From there, assuming you long hitters also have a short game, it should be an easy up-and-down birdie opportunity.
No. 18 is a doozy of a finishing hole. This par-5 plays 516 yards from the tip, all uphill, with danger lurking at every corner. If you’re at all exhausted at this point in the day, now is not the time to lose your concentration. If you do, a big number will likely be the finishing number you write on your scorecard.
Off the tee, make a good shoulder rotation and be sure to send your ball soaring down the middle of the fairway, as desert trouble surrounds you on either side. From there, you must carry your ball over a vegetation gulley, uphill and one shot closer to the green. Finally, your third approach shot will likely be a short iron into a green surrounded by a large bunker short and left. This green slopes back to front and could make for a tricky three putt if you’re not careful. The entire hole plays uphill and if you get a little bit of wind in your face, the hole can seem to stretch forever long.
The Sanctuary Golf Course at West World is a great course to practice mental stamina and course management. This is a course where you will need to be aware and alert at all times while playing. The moment you slack off or have a mental lapse, I guarantee you’ll be paying for it in strokes…and lots of them!
Head Pro Wilson says that the pace of play is always great. “Our golfers get around the course in three and a half to four hours.”
Wilson also mentions the fact that that course is very walkable because the holes at Sanctuary are so close together.
I didn’t spend too much time on the practice facility while I was out there, but I will say that it is top notch. They have an expansive driving range, a large putting green and a separate green for practicing chipping and short game. The Sanctuary would certainly be a place I would want to go to devote hours honing my game.
My brother and I had a very pleasurable experience at the Sanctuary Golf Course at West World from the customer service, to the friendly twosome we were paired with, to the layout and design, to the condition of the fairways and greens. This is one course I plan to keep going back to over and over again.