Gold Course – Wigwam Golf Resort: Three championship golf courses on-site make the Wigwam Golf Resort the most unique golf resort in Arizona, and the Gold Course is the signature layout here; locals call it “The Monster.”
Designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Sr., the course sits on the site of the original Goodyear Farms, built in 1918 as a retreat for visiting executives from the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.
The resort opened to the public in 1929 and its first nine holes are believed to have been built around 1930 by an unknown maintenance worker, using only a tractor. Another nine holes were added later and Jones was hired in ’64 to create a 36-hole complex, which became the Gold and Patriot courses.
Jones designed more than 500 courses in his storied career and had a hand in creating gems like Augusta National, Oakland Hills, Southern Hills, Oak Hill and Congressional. He was hired by the Wigwam after Goodyear took notice that Jones had designed Firestone Country Club, owned by its chief competitor, and that the course was drawing rave reviews.
Part of the Gold Course was redesigned during a $5 million renovation project headed by architect and design historian Forrest Richardson in 2005, and now plays to par 72 at 7,315 yards from the “monster” tees with a rating of 74.5 and slope of 135. Even though it’s a parkland-style layout, “The Monster” is definitely not a walk in the park.
“Mr. Jones’ philosophy was that every hole should be a hard par but an easy bogey,” Richardson said when he started the renovation. “That’s what he created here, and that’s what we’re going to retain because everything we’re doing is in the spirit of his designs.”
This particular design hits you between the eyes by the time you reach the fourth hole, a 645-yard beast that requires both strength and patience. If that doesn’t wear you out, wait until you make the turn and get a taste of the 630-yard tenth that features a bunker roughly the size of Mission Beach running down the right side, three towering palm trees in your way (including one in that bunker) and a pond partially blocking the path to a tucked-away green. Do yourself a favor, play for bogey and be thrilled if you pull it off.
Then prepare for the tough finishing stretch, enhanced by Richardson’s re-design of the 18th hole, where he fixed the one weak link in the chain of this otherwise brilliant layout. The 16th is a 174-yard par-3 to a split-level green, and No. 17 is a testy 422-yard par-4 to a narrow green, approached across a pond.
The new 18th, a 440-yard par-4, is now one of the toughest finishing holes in Arizona. To start, you face a diagonal tee shot across water. The left side provides a better angle to the green but there is a narrow canal, which was created decades ago as an irrigation source for crops, running along the edge of the fairway. There’s plenty of room on the right, but if you take that route, your approach shot must clear a deep, massive bunker and stop on a shallow green with that same canal wrapping up to the left edge. You want a make-or-break for a finishing hole? It doesn’t get much better than this.
The Wigwam is the only Arizona resort with three championship courses to choose from, and if you like golf, you’re going to love The Wigwam.
To read “The Buzz” on Wigwam’s Patriot Course, please click here.
To read “The Buzz” on Wigwam’s Heritage Course, please click here.
It’s “All Things Arizona Golf” from the Arizona Golf Authority.