Dobson Ranch Golf Course: Another Fantastic Muni

By Dave Williams, Contributor

MESA, Arizona - Playing golf during the winter months in Arizona has many advantages...but there are some disadvantages. Some of the advantages are the nice weather and an abundance of beautiful golf courses. The main disadvantage is the cost. Green fees reaching the hundred dollar range and above discourage many golfers.

Dobson Ranch Golf Course
Dobson Ranch Golf Course
If you go

Dobson Ranch Golf Course in Mesa spells relief from the high green fees, starting at $18 for walking 18 holes. The green fee depends on walking, riding, residence, and time of day and season. Although the green fees are low, you won't be cheated on the golf.

The par 72 championship golf course is 6,592 yards long from the back tees and 6,176 from the middle tees. Owned by the city of Mesa, this municipal course offers bunkers, water, out of bounds, slick greens, doglegs, trees, and a well-manicured layout for a golfer of any skill level.

Access is easy to Dobson Ranch Golf Course, just off a major highway and there is plenty of parking. The golf shop is small, but adequate and the staff is friendly and helpful. A restaurant and bar is next to the golf shop. There are several teaching professionals on the premises in case you want a quick lesson prior to or after your round. The practice area is large. Plenty of room to find a place to hit balls to warm-up and a practice bunker. A large practice putting green is located near the first tee.

The first hole will give you a good idea what is ahead of you at Dobson Ranch. The par 5 has out of bounds on the left, trees lining both sides of the fairway and a fairway bunker.

For most golfers, this par 5 is a three shot hole, so you will want to get your tee shot and second shot in the fairway. The front of most of the greens is open as you find in most older golf courses, allowing for run-up shots. The green slopes to the middle of the green, which is guarded on the left by a bunker. The undulating green is quick.

A caution that will be repeated often is to keep the ball under the hole. Most of the greens slope uphill from the front. Being on the green does not guarantee a two-putt if you are above the hole.

The second hole is your first of many doglegs. This one goes to the right, out of bounds on the left again. You don't want to try and cut this slight dogleg because of the trees on the right. This sloping green can bring difficult pin placements. Again, you must be below the hole on this par 4.

A dogleg to the left welcomes you at the shorter par 4 third hole. OB on the left and a fairway bunker on the right. Long hitters may want to cut this dogleg, but a miss hit can find the trees or worse, the houses that are out of bounds. The green is guarded on the right by a bunker. Pin placement in important on this hole because of a small hill on the green in the back.

The first par three is hole number 4. It is also the first hole where water comes into play. The medium length par three has the green guarded on the right and left by bunkers and water to the right and back of the green. If you don't get a three on this hole, you will look forward to playing it again for another chance. It's a fun hole.

Number 5 hole is a dogleg left that can be reached in two shots with a good drive. A long hitter may even want to cut the corner, but trees and out of bounds on the left may discourage aggressive play.

There are two fairway bunkers, the one on the right catches the conservative player who hits a drive away from the corner. Again, your approach shot to the sloping green needs to be below the hole. A birdie putt could easily turn into a bogey putt if you are above the hole.

Another dogleg left on the medium length par 4 sixth hole. Trees, a bunker and out of bounds are also on the left. Once you get to the green, it is undulating, quick, and guarded on the right by bunkers.

The par three 7th hole is an opportunity to pick up a stroke with a well-placed tee shot. The green has three bunkers and water is on the left. But only a really bad hook will bring the water into play. The green is long and narrow. If the pin is in the middle to back left and your ball is on the front of the green, a two-putt will be very good.

Number 8 is a dangerous hole. The medium length par 4 has water running along the right side of the fairway, which doglegs to the right. A fairway bunker protects the left side of the fairway. The green has a bunker front right and in the back. The front nine ends with a long par 5. A definite three shot hole has two fairway bunkers on the left and one on the right. Play it smart and you can end the front nine with a birdie.

Making the Turn

The back nine starts with a short par four that will give you a birdie opportunity. There is a fairway bunker on the right and out of bounds on the left where the practice range is located. A wedge will find a sloping green and hopefully a short putt uphill. The next hole is another straight par 4 with trees and out of bounds on the right and a fairway bunker on the left. The green has a bunker right front and in the back.

Four bunkers guard the par 3 twelfth green. The medium length hole has a creek that runs several yards in front of the green, to the right and back of the green. If you don't pick up a stroke on this hole, maybe you will on number 13. The short dogleg left par 5 is reachable in two shots with a good drive.

Out of bounds, trees, and a bunker may discourage cutting the corner, but it is worth the try. There is another bunker about 80 yards from the green that can catch an arrant second shot. The green has a bunker on the left and as is the case on most of the greens, keep the ball below the hole for an opportunity to make birdie.

No secrets on the par three 14, just be below the hole. There is a right greenside bunker. A shot to the fat part of the green should give you a good birdie putt. Several of the par 4's at Dobson Ranch are short, in the 340-360 yard range. But that doesn't make them easy. In fact, you may find them to be the most difficult holes of them all. The 15th and 16th holes are good examples. Fifteen doglegs to the left, where there is out of bounds and a bunker on the left. Another bunker is 80 yards from the green, which could catch a long drive.

There is a bunker of the right of this undulating green. The dogleg goes to the right on number 16. Out of bounds and trees are on the left and out of bounds on the right. A bunker stretches to the middle of the fairway that will only affect the very long hitter.

Just play the middle of the fairway for a short iron approach to the sloping green. Hit your approach shot long and you'll be in a greenside bunker.

A medium length par 3 seventeenth hole can be difficult depending on the pin placement. The pin can be hidden by the right front bunker on a narrow wide green. Get a par to move onto the final hole, a par 5 that is reachable with a good drive. Water in front of the tee should not come into play unless the shot is topped. There are two fairway bunkers on the left. However, a hooked second or third shot to the green could find the water on the left. Three bunkers also guard the green.

Play it conservatively and you should go out with a birdie or par. Then you can relax in the restaurant or bar and go over your round and know you didn't have to pay the big dollars for an enjoyable round of golf at a good golf facility.

Dobson Ranch Golf Course is one of the better municipal courses you will find. It's busy - 95,000-100,000 rounds a year. A four to five hour round is very possible. A four hour round is recommended and is enforced by the rangers. The course is in good condition and challenging, a very good course for visitors or everyday players who want the most for their money.

There is lodging close to Dobson Ranch, such as the Dobson Ranch Best Western, and several fine restaurants. In addition to the restaurant at Dobson Ranch Golf Course, a well known local establishment, Monti's La Casa Viejo, is nearby.

How to get there

From Phoenix, take Interstate 10 to Highway 60 East. Take the Dobson Road exit and turn south. Once you pass Baseline Road, Dobson Ranch Golf Course will be on the left. From Tucson, you will still take Interstate 10 and Highway 60.

Dave Williams, Contributor

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