Ocotillo Golf Resort in Chandler, AZ
Tee Time: September 3, 2012, 9:10, 102 F, Calm
Designer: Ted Robinson (1986)
Playing Partners: Pat Spomer, Golfer X
Tees: Blue/White course, Copper Tees, Par 71 (71.3 rating/130 slope/6,782 yards)
Course Handicap: 13 (11.7 index)
Stats: 91 (47-44); 32 putts; 4/14 fairways; 2/18 greens; 6 penalty strokes
With all the mounds, hazards and nasty desert conditions of Arizona golf, Ocotillo Golf Resort is a welcome change of pace from the other high-end tracks in the valley. Feeling more like it belongs in the Grapefruit League than the Cactus League, water, palm trees and bermuda grass define this course. There are three 9’s to choose from, the Gold, Blue and White. The White played easier than the Blue, which are the two courses we played. Just eyeballing the scorecard looks like the Gold holes might be the toughest of the 3. Bring at least three sleeves of golf balls, I would recommend. I lost 6, but also I’m not very good. You might have better luck.
The Blue side is very picturesque. Every hole features some water, and most of it comes into play at some point. With wet stuff guarding the green of the opening par 5, starting off the round with an eagle putt is almost out of the question as getting to the green is over 240 yards to carry. Right away the tricky bermuda greens mess with putts. Putt with the grain and the ball rolls and rolls, putt into it and you might as well take a slap shot to get it all the way to the hole. Subtle breaks and bumps make three-footers darn near impossible. But as fussy as this type of grass can be, they were in pretty good condition, and the rough was punishing. Not long, but balls would sit down and force some ugly hacks. The first real challenging hole is the par-3 4th, playing 197 yards into a back-to-front sloping green with water and sand to the front and right. A relaxing stretch of a par 4, 5 and 3 follow before closing with two water-laden dogleg par 4’s on 8 and 9.
As for the White course, while not as scenic, it does have its moments. The cover shot above of the green at #4 with the line of palm trees along the edge is just one look offered by these holes. Also present are eucalyptus and even pine trees, making each hole feel like a different region of Florida. The par-3 3rd is a tricky 162 yard shot to a green guarded by 4 traps and water walling off the left and front from really bad shots. The first dry hole of the day, #6, is no easier without water. The aerial view of the tee shot has 6 small fairway bunkers that look like toes on the end of the fairway, like Bigfoot came and stamped out the design of this hole. Tough lies wait outside of the sand as well and an elevated green makes stopping the ball on a mid-iron tough. Two more dry holes wait ahead, one very short (and which we got driven into twice without even an apology, actually more of a middle finger from the group from some pink-shirtted, popped-collar Delta Lamba Phi butthole who decided to kick his bad tee shot into the fairway because that’s the classy thing to do). The 9th on the White course is long and into a breeze the carry over the water gets even longer. It has great potential to be a classic finishing hole, but not much scenery backstops the green holding it back just a little.
Accuracy is the most important thing at Ocotillo. None of the holes present many overwhelming challenges outside of avoiding the wet stuff. The sand traps are easy to escape, the fairways are wide and the greens can be putted well with any knowledge of bermuda grass. The whole layout is set in a really swank area of Chandler. Not often in Arizona do you see mansion houses with backyard boats to chill out in. Granted, there’s not really anywhere for those boats to sail off to, but who wouldn’t take a backyard boat if they could? All that extra water drove up the humidity, which wasn’t too bad, as long as you keep pretending you’re in Florida all day. It is a fun course, and a must play if only because it is so unique among Phoenix courses, which all feature at least one cactus, except Ocotillo. It’s like a fresh golf vacation in the close proximity of Chandler.
Blue #8, Par 4, 415 yards, 4-handicap, My Score: 4
The penultimate hole of the Blue course is the most scenic of the selection of holes we played. From the tee it plays to a chunk of fairway over the water feature in front of the tee box. The water bites off a chunk of the right landing area and winds out to the left from there, so keeping the ball port-side is key, although it leaves a longer shot over water to another elevated green. The water guarding the green is much bigger than most holes have, but it’s more of a worry from the tee than getting into the green. The hole winds to a pretty green that breaks down to the water and then it’s off to more tropical golf.
Amenities: B; I’m sure it’s a very pleasant resort to visit.
Staff: A; a friendly staff and really nice clubhouse/restaurant add to the fun of visiting this course. Also, by far the hottest cart girl this summer to date, tatted and gave me a free Coke, so there’s that.
Difficulty: B; the water comes into play often, but aside from steering well clear of that, not much to prevent good scores here.
Scenery: B; beautiful homes line almost every hole, a wide variety of trees dot the course (palms and pines on the same 9 even), and all of the water on the course is well maintained, no swamp life out here.
Value: A-; at just $39 for a Labor Day round, it is by far one of the best deals for the nicest course in the Southeast Valley.
Overall: 3.28 (B); pack an extra sleeve of balls, grab some bug spray and then go have fun out here.