The Buzz: This course, created in 1979 and known by locals as “Los Cab,” is a centerpiece of the longstanding Rancho de los Caballeros dude ranch, which serves as a retreat for wannabe wranglers and cowboy golf. Set among mesquites and yuccas, the course created by Greg Nash and Jeff Hardin is a demanding test that offers spectacular views of the Bradshaw Mountains and the landmark Vulture’s Peak.
There is plenty of history at the site where three part-time Phoenix cowboys built a cattle ranch in the 1920s that was converted to a resort ranch in 1948 and has entertained guests such as Clark Gable, Hopalong Cassidy and former president Richard Nixon. Nash and Gant were mentored by Red Lawrence, who was known as the Desert Fox of course design, and his style is reflected in this layout with elongated tee boxes, traditional strategic bunkering and elevated, sloping greens. Numerous holes on the 7,014-yard course feature uphill shots to the greens and regulars have learned that many of those approaches require more club than the yardage suggests.
The front nine features a tough three-hole stretch starting at No. 5. The fifth and seventh are par 5s at 531 and 569 yards, and the sixth is a 402-yard par 4 with a dogleg to a slippery green. The back nine gets even better, plunging into yucca forest that creates some unique Sonoran-style golf. Included is the signature 13th hole, which plays as one of the toughest par 5s in the state. It is a 599-yard test over three distinct hilltops to a small, well-protected green backdropped by palm trees and Vulture’s Peak. The round ends with a 560-yard par 5 dogleg hole that rambles downhill and concludes with a classic risk-reward approach to the green.
Along with tremendous golf, resort guests enjoy a dude ranch experience with first-class amenities on this 20,000-acre property. Rooms are large, fresh and well-furnished and there are casitas and suites available, along with an abundant activity roster. Meals are served in a bright, festive dining room and everyone is asked to dress for each night’s sit-down dinner. There also is a campfire cookout available with ribs, chicken, burgers, salads, chili, kabobs, s’mores and other grub to be enjoyed while taking in the surrounding mountain views. Add it all up, and this is one cool place, dude.