Coldwater Golf Club: A Different Kind of Desert Golfing Experience

By Michael Hegarty, Contributor

AVONDALE, AZ - Coldwater Golf Club is disproving a lot of misconceptions about golf in the west valley.

It's not that far from Phoenix and it's not flat.

In fact, the Avondale course that just opened in December is only 15 minutes from downtown Phoenix and thanks to plenty of bulldozers digging up and moving around tons of dirt, the former cotton field has been transformed into a rolling, pleasurable 6,758-yard golf course at 115th Avenue just south of I-10.

"People think we're halfway to L.A., but we're just 20 minutes from the airport," said Mark Conn, head pro at the par-72 championship course that has seen a lot of its golfers come from Scottsdale, Tempe and the downtown hotels.

"It's not that far. We're pretty convenient."

Coldwater is also a different kind of golfing experience for Arizona golfers and visitors. Instead of the traditional desert golf or flat terrain, Coldwater offers undulating fairways, elevated greens, and few bunkers to provide a links-style course in keeping with designer Forrest Richardson's British Isle's background. Parts of the course run along the Aqua Fria River; South Mountain provides a distant backdrop.

"It's something unique," Conn said. "A lot of people ask me, 'It's a flat course, right?' and they're surprised to see that it isn't."

Being a young course, Coldwater is still developing. But for now, if you stick to hitting the fairways and greens, it's in wonderful shape. It's condition is no surprise to those in the game, since it was built by nationally renowned Landscapes Unlimited, whose other courses include Spyglass, Pinehurst #8 and Greg Norman's PGA West.

When the wildflowers that are starting to bloom around the tees boxes and the knee-high prairie grass takes over the vacant land, the course will increase its difficulty and beauty while still providing golfers a friendly challenge at an affordable price.

Coldwater's rates peak at $79 during the heavy golfing season and will drop to as low as $30 during the summer months. The pace of play is pleasant, with Conn estimating most rounds completed in just over four hours.

The course offers four sets of tees with a diverse selection of lengths for different levels of golfers: Deep End measures 6,758 yards for the longer hitters who enjoy playing par-4s as far back as 478 yards, par-5s of 562 yards, yet no par-3 farther than 193; the Coldwater tees are 6,305 yards, with the longest par-4 just over 400 yards and par-5s where you don't have to waste an extra stroke just getting to the green; Vintage adds up to 5,798 yards; and the forward tees, Upstream, total 5,147 yards.

Pay close attention to the course, as the hole diagrams on the scorecard are sometimes difficult to follow, especially when it comes to trouble spots. But the hazards on the card are there, generally not in the shape of bunkers - just 20 sandy ones are scattered about the course. There are plenty of grassy swales - and only two holes have water on them. Trees are young and rare, yet can still be a hindrance.

The real danger comes in the form of playing tricky shots on the sides of hills, downhill, uphill, or around the mounds guarding the greens. A dry, overflow wash runs along numerous holes and OB lines most of the course.

Eventually 1,800 homes will be built in the 500-plus-acre master planned community. Model homes already dot the course and a school and shopping center are also in the plans.

After hitting some ball on the driving range or knocking around a few putts on the numerous practice greens (there's also a pavilion to host outdoor functions), the round begins by following the power lines out that run along the first couple of holes before you swing back around to the clubhouse and then repeat the loop on the opposite side for a figure eight. Except for the starting and ending holes, few neighbor each other.

A steady mix of straight away holes open the round, with modest lengths and plenty of roller-coaster fairways often lined with mounds on the edge of the thin cut of rough heading up to the medium-sized greens with plenty of break.

The mold is broken on No. 6, the shortest par-5 off the men's tees at 473 yards, a dogleg right with plenty of wasteland to penalize shots that don't carry the corner. A divided fairway puts emphasis on a smart second shot, but there's room to work left of the green.

No. 8 not only is the shortest par 3 at 115 yards from the back and 100 yards for the men, but one of just two holes with water on it. But that's not your only concern here as the green has three tiers and can leave long, big-breaking putts if you're on the wrong one.

The longest par-4 is the 13th, measuring 478 yards from the back, and 415 yards from the men's. It's no wonder it's titled "Wo' mama." Hit away since the green is straight away but keep it fairly straight since the wash runs the length of the hole on the left side and a busy road is on your right.

The 15th hole houses the only really difficult bunker, with wooden stakes embedded in the grass length-wise to create some interesting lies for the true hazard whose size mirrors the green to capture any shots that fall short.

No. 18 has you firing away at the clubhouse on a par-5 at 488 yards from the men's (495 from the back) with water right and surrounding half the green, and a trio of bunkers on the left side, that keeps you honest on your approach shot.

No matter where you end up, your golfing experience will likely lead you back to Coldwater again, as it develops into proof that the west valley can offer a unique round of golf at a course -- and rate -- that's not too far out there.

Coldwater Golf Club
100 N. Clubhouse Drive
Avondale, AZ 85323;
Phone: (623) 932-9000
Green fees: $69 Monday-Thursday;
$79, Friday-Sunday
$40 after 1 p.m.

Michael Hegarty, Contributor

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment