The Buzz: This is the site of the original course built in 1966 at Marriott’s first-ever resort and underwent a major overhaul under the direction of renowned architect Arthur Hills as part of a $17 million project in 2000. The result was a course that features towering eucalyptus trees, gently rolling terrain, strategic doglegs, impressive multiple bunkers, challenging water holes and scenic backdrops provided by Camelback and Mummy mountains. Played from the tips, the par-3 holes are long and longer, but Hills’ redesign had the greatest impact on the par-5 holes, which collectively are among the strongest you will find anywhere in the Phoenix metro area. The par-72 layout has five sets of tees, ranging from 5,023 to 6,903 yards, and is rated at 72.3 with a slope of 131 from the tips. Camelback’s other course, called Indian Bend, receives about the same amount of play, but this one is the signature layout and more expensive of the two.
The finishing holes on both nines are the most memorable and both are par 5s. No. 9, at 547 yards, is a slight dogleg right with a generous landing area but bunkers along the left side and if you clear them and catch the power slot, you’ll have a mid or short iron to the green. From the right side, however, it’s all carry over a lake that separates the ninth and 18th greens and the green slopes away toward bunkers on the left. No. 18 is one of the best water holes in the state. The par 5 is just 518 yards from the tips with a generous fairway that makes it a good driving hole, but then comes the challenge. The approach is to a green that has a narrow neck in front and slopes left toward a lake running down that side. An impressive waterfall and Camelback Mountain provide a picturesque backdrop to the hole. The par 3s offer a nice, and challenging, variety at 163, 198, 183 and 220 yards from the tips.
Part of the redesign included a 36,000-square-foot pueblo-styled clubhouse by renowned architect Douglas Fredrikson, which serves both courses. Along with an expansive golf shop, the Grill at Camelback Golf Club and Grill Lounge are great places to unwind after your round with their bronze and gold hues, regional dishes, floor-to-ceiling windows, patio dining and outdoor adobe-style fireplace facing that lake and waterfall area. Public golf accounts for the majority of play on the two courses, which are not located at the Camelback Inn at JW Marriott Resort. They are about three miles away, nestled among multi-million-dollar homes, but if you are lucky enough to stay in one of the resort’s spacious casitas, be prepared for some serious pampering.
It is one of Arizona’s oldest and most charming resorts and its spa is world class. Resort guests have included Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Bette Davis, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Selleck and Cindy Crawford. Built on 125 acres in the mid-1930s, it features latilla-beamed (peeled-log) buildings and grounds graced with stunning cacti and desert flowers. Visit the spa for a “para-joba” body wrap and an adobe-mud purification treatment, or enjoy the resort’s three swimming pools, six tennis courts and fitness center.