Arizona Golf Vacations

The New McDowell Mountain Golf Club Review

By • Dec 6th, 2011

It was great day for golf, especially at the “new” McDowell Mountain Golf Club. If you didn’t get a chance to play there when it was called “The Sanctuary”, start afresh and enjoy this beautiful course.

It offers an “experience” not just a great round of golf.

Phil Mickelson and his ASU coach recently bought the operating rights for the course. They got  down to good golf business and embarked on making some very notable improvements which left the course one that matches quality and playability of any. Investing $2M the operating rights and $1M on improvements speaks loud for the confidence and commitment that will make this course a Scottsdale favorite.

Phil recently played there at the opening, saying “we wanted to make it more playable, enjoyable and visually stimulating, and to give families an affordable place to play golf.”  Phil’s team of Steve Loy (Phil’s coach @ ASU) and Randy Heckenkemper (course architect) teamed up to build a spectacular, desert course with more turf and fewer bunkers. The views alone are worth the trip. Located near the equestrian center, at the base of the McDowell Mountains, offering great views of the Humboldt towers, the finest desert vistas, Pinnacle Peak and Mummy Mountain are just a few of the treats that come par for the course. One final feature that sets it aside is the M Club that will allow players to golf at four of their properties:  McDowell Mountain, Palm Valley in Goodyear, Chaparral Pines and Rim Golf Club in Payson.

Get to the golf:  It’s a 71 par, 7,072 yard course with a 71.7 rating and 135 slope.

Holes 3 and 17 stand out as “fun to play.” They’re good examples of Phil’s “visually stimulating” comment. The front nine offer water, bunkers, washes, mounds, waste areas and lots of turf.

The par 4, 2nd hole was a delightful surprise. Hit over the “elbow” or play the fairway. Either tests your ability. Play the fairway and you’re closer than you would have imagined even if you studied the hole layout.

Followed by the 3rd, par 3.. Hit short, and there’s a stone wall that will stop or bounce your ball right back at you. Land too close at the base of the wall, and you have a mountain of a wall to get over to get on the green. Hit it right, and the green plays well. The added waste area on the left keeps you out of the canyon should the wind take your ball that way.

Holes 6 & 11offer the same waste-area protection for errant shots. Hole 6 has two added, elevated tees that offer a spectacular view of the mountains and deserts. They’re called “waste areas” but should be called “ball savers.” Many of the holes now have these features which makes play much more enjoyable and saves on the balls.

The par 4 16th hole tempts you to make the green and take the long shot. Pick your tee location and make it happen. The 17th hole has a beautiful “lake” on the right. The play is dramatic because the left offers all the relief you need if you try hard to avoid the water. There is no bunker on the left to so hit away. Regardless of the hole, the rolling fairways, waste areas and mounds keep you in play

End at the 18th and take a minute to take in the views.

Many of the tees have been elevated, championship tees added, turf added to connect tee boxes to fairways, fairways widened, bunkers filled in, tee areas enlarged grass hollows added and the improvement list doesn’t end. But one notable change is a real effort to let “casual” golfers have the same enjoyable experience as the low-handicap player. They’ve succeeded.

After your round and you think you’ve mastered the game, consider really mastering the game with World Class instruction from Rick Smith Academy offered at very reasonable rates but offering the best instructions for experienced or new golfers to be found anywhere.

For those of who care about the small things: the long rakes are a great add, walking allowed is a real draw for the exercise seekers and no “cart path only” rule keeps play moving.

Amenities both new and carried-over include putting green, practice bunker, rental clubs, group outings, driving range, chipping area, banquet facilities, lesson and food and beverage services.
Memberships include charging privileges, AGA memberships, pro-shop discounts, OB sports benefits and more for a very low rate.

Add the surrounding McDowell Mountain Ranch community to “experience” and it’s a destination you’ll play on or live in. whoever said “change is good,” hit the fairway on this one.