Central Arizona Northern Arizona Wickenburg

Wickenburg Country Club

Arizona Golf Authority AZGA Golf Course Buzz: Golfers who are familiar with the “old” Wickenburg Country Club, but haven’t teed it up here in a few years, will be pleasantly surprised to discover how much things have changed, and all for the better. This was the first course built in Wickenburg, opening in 1949, and was designed by the father-son duo of William F. Bell and William P. Bell, who made a name for themselves in the Southwest by creating such gems as Torrey Pines in San Diego and Papago Municipal Golf Course in Phoenix.

Wickenburg CC was created as a private club, but in 2006, at a time when many courses were scaling back, it expanded, adding a second nine. One result is that it became a semi-private club that welcomes public play but still sells full memberships and, in 2011, waived the initiation fee.

Wickenburg CC is a desert-style layout with rolling hills that puts a premium on accuracy rather than length, with tight fairways lined by mature trees being common. The front is devoid of water but it comes into play on four holes of the new nine. The par-71 layout now has three sets of tees at 6,320, 5,562 and 4,674 yards with a rating of 70.5 and slope of 128 from the back tees.

The course serves up plenty of birdie opportunities for golfers who keep their shots under control, particularly on the par-5 holes, which play at 454, 509 and 513 yards. The latter is the finishing hole and the longest on the course. The fourth hole, a 373-yard par 4, remains the No. 1 handicap hole, but there are a couple challenging par 3s at 235 and 229 yards.

The design is a little unconventional because the front nine has just one par 3 and one par 5 and the back features three par-3 holes in a four-hole stretch. The expansion project also included a new clubhouse that has full dining facilities at Ringo’s Restaurant, a lounge bar, snack shop and an open patio with circular views of the course and surrounding mountains. Practice facilities include a driving range, putting green, practice green and practice bunker.

Click and read the Arizona Golf Course Buzz for every golf course in Arizona; it’s the complete Arizona golf course directory from the Arizona Golf Authority.

Central Arizona Northern Arizona Wickenburg

Los Caballeros Golf Club

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.

finishing hole #18 at Rancho de los Caballeros Golf Club in Wickenburg, Arizona
Hole #18 at 'Los Cab' Golf Club

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.