CHANDLER, AZ - Off the Queen Creek exit of I-10 and deep within the new developments of south Chandler, Ocotillo Golf Club leaves the desert behind and the picturesque surroundings deliver one of the most memorable rounds of golf in Phoenix.
The drive up to the clubhouse will leave golfers breathless. Lined with Palm trees, of course, a glimpse of the signature hole sparkles on the right.
Water runs along the entire left bank of this conquest leading up to green-side construction of rocky waterfalls. The clubhouse offers guests both deluxe dining and a casual bar. The food at the bar is decent and the structure nothing special. However, more time will be spent golfing than eating. The clubhouse sits in back of the driving range, which wedges in-between the first tee box of the three different nine hole courses.
Ocotillo has three different nines: a Blue, Gold and a White. Expect to fall in love on the Blue course. Running water splashing against sharp rocks as birds flap their wings against the freshly trimmed grass on the fairways.
Each hole showcases a variety of breathtaking homes. The properties all shine with diverse structure and colorful landscaping. Prices of these masterpieces range from $200,000 all the way up to over a million.
The majority of the most expensive homes are on the Blue course. Not only will the architecture and landscaping of Ocotillo homes impress the eye, but man-made lakes slither throughout the vibrant green turf. Only five holes out of 27 do not have water.
Almost every house sits on the bank of a lake, some with cobblestone walkways leading dockside down from the house, to antique light posts and benches. Small boats accompany dozens of Ocotillo residences. Just be wary of paddle boaters when that mulligan card gets played.
Todd Weiand, head golf professional at Ocotillo, says what makes the course so unique to Arizona is definitely all the water. "There is no desert landscaping whatsoever," Weiand said.
The difficulty of the Blue course punishes golfers more than the other two nines. For some golfers, water on every hole not only means danger, but it also means laying up on several of the holes.
Big hitting golfers don't typically have to lay-up on this type of course, but just be vigilant of water on the sides and corners on the fairway.
The White course, starts off plush as the Blue, but does lack in excitement after passing through the fifth hole. But, a dull three holes really doesn't take away from the rest.
According to Weiand, "golfers usually request the White set of holes the most because that's what they see when they drive up to the course."
At 3,404 yards from the back and 2,559 from the front, the Gold nine is the longest of the three. A Blue-Gold combination with a slope rating of 131 is considered to be slightly harder than the Blue-White or White-Gold combinations with a slope of 128.
The Blue plays at 3,325 from the back and 2,569 from the front. The White shoots 3,188 from the back up to 2,565 from the front.
About half the 112 sand bunkers on the course play fairly easy and the other half are pot bunkers that can really kill a hole.
On each nine, a variety of different birds will greet you both on the fairway and green.
While some can be very beautiful, an overwhelming abundance can be very frustrating at times of difficult play. However, the animals do add to the complete oasis feel of the course.
At Ocotillo, players completely escape Arizona. No hint of brown or desert terrain exists anywhere on the property. The course is kept in excellent shape on the fairway, but the sparse greens dish golfers an inconsistent roll. However, with as much water as Ocotillo has, they really do an outstanding job keeping things fresh and trimmed.
Ted Robinson designed the 180-acre course 14 years ago, and since then the area continues to grow. Bermuda grass grows during the summer and landscapers overseed with a Rye in the winter.
Weiand says Ocotillo definitely has a disadvantage being so far away from populated areas, but the people come regardless, following its outstanding reputation.
Weiand also mentions the value of the course, playing a factor in popularity. From January 15 through April 2 prices are $115, as compared to courses of similar statures in Scottsdale which can charge close to $200. In the summer, green fees only charge $45. "In the summer we only use to see locals playing," Weiand said. "Now we're attracting tourists in the summer, as well as in the winter."
Ocotillo is not for golf travelers seeking the traditional desert feel. Ocotillo is a vacation from the desert, with its luscious rolling fairways and crystal blue water at every turn.
To get to the course take I-10 South and exit Queen Creek. Turn left and follow the farm road a few miles until Price, turn right.
The street curves around to Dobson. Make a left on Ocotillo and follow the road up to the course.
Besides the clubhouse, there are a number of restaurants nearby. Go back on I-10 heading North towards Phoenix.
A few exits away, at Ray Rd, turn either right or left for just about anything you could want. You'll find everything from Macaroni Grill, Mimi's Café, Rock Bottom Brewery, Ruby Tuesdays, Outback, TGI Friday's and more.
Ocotillo Golf Club
3751 S. Clubhouse Drive
Chandler, AZ 85248
Pace of Play: B
Overall Rating: B+