Ocotillo Golf Club: A Nice Escape from the Desert

By Kelly Saul, Contributor

Ocotillo Golf ClubCHANDLER, AZ - Off the Queen Creek exit of I-10 and deep within the new developments of south Chandler, Ocotillo Golf Club leaves the desert behind and the picturesque surroundings deliver one of the most memorable rounds of golf in Phoenix.

The drive up to the clubhouse will leave golfers breathless. Lined with Palm trees, of course, a glimpse of the signature hole sparkles on the right.

Water runs along the entire left bank of this conquest leading up to green-side construction of rocky waterfalls.

Beautiful and refined, Ocotillo's contemporary clubhouse has an elegant outdoor patio surrounded by water falls, streams and a myriad of flower beds, inside arched ceilings and beams soar 30 feet above. Luxurious and delicious, Ocotillo's guests can select from fine dining (evening) or a casual bar.

Ocotillo's restaurant, Brian's Fine Dining, was just recognized in the February issue of Phoenix Magazine as one of the top seven, "19th Hole" restaurants in the valley, along with the likes of Troon North, The Grill at TPC, The Raven at South Mountain, etc. So your time dining will be equally as enjoyable as your time on the course.

Also, if you have any last minute golfing needs, one of the best selections of equipment and accessories in the valley can be found in Ocotillo's Pro Shop, which was recognized by the PGA as "Merchandiser of the Year for 2000" and by Golf World Magazine as one of the top 100 Pro Shops in the United States.

Ocotillo has three different nines: a Blue, Gold and a White. Expect to fall in love on the Blue course. Running water splashing against sharp rocks as birds flap their wings against the freshly trimmed grass on the fairways.

Ocotillo Golf ClubEach hole showcases a variety of breathtaking homes. The properties all shine with diverse structure and colorful landscaping. Prices of these masterpieces range from $200,000 all the way up to over a million.

The majority of the most expensive homes are on the Blue course. Not only will the architecture and landscaping of Ocotillo homes impress the eye, but man-made lakes slither throughout the vibrant green turf. Only five holes out of 27 do not have water.

Almost every house sits on the bank of a lake, some with cobblestone walkways leading dockside down from the house, to antique light posts and benches. Small boats accompany dozens of Ocotillo residences. Just be wary of paddle boaters when that mulligan card gets played.

Todd Weiand, head golf professional at Ocotillo, says what makes the course so unique to Arizona is definitely all the water. "There is no desert landscaping whatsoever," Weiand said.

The difficulty of the Blue course punishes golfers more than the other two nines. For some golfers, water on every hole not only means danger, but it also means laying up on several of the holes.

Big hitting golfers don't typically have to lay-up on this type of course, but just be vigilant of water on the sides and corners on the fairway.

The White course, starts off plush as the Blue, but does lack in excitement after passing through the fifth hole. But, a dull three holes really doesn't take away from the rest.

According to Weiand, "golfers usually request the White set of holes the most because that's what they see when they drive up to the course."

At 3,404 yards from the back and 2,559 from the front, the Gold nine is the longest of the three. A Blue-Gold combination with a slope rating of 131 is considered to be slightly harder than the Blue-White or White-Gold combinations with a slope of 128.

Ocotillo Golf ClubThe Blue plays at 3,325 from the back and 2,569 from the front. The White shoots 3,188 from the back up to 2,565 from the front.

About half the 112 sand bunkers on the course play fairly easy and the other half are pot bunkers that can really kill a hole.

On each nine, a variety of different birds will greet you both on the fairway and green.

While some can be very beautiful, an overwhelming abundance can be very frustrating at times of difficult play. However, the animals do add to the complete oasis feel of the course.

At Ocotillo, players completely escape Arizona. No hint of brown or desert terrain exists anywhere on the property. The course is kept in excellent shape on the fairway, but the sparse greens dish golfers an inconsistent roll. However, with as much water as Ocotillo has, they really do an outstanding job keeping things fresh and trimmed.

Ted Robinson designed the 180-acre course 14 years ago, and since then the area continues to grow. Bermuda grass grows during the summer and landscapers overseed with a Rye in the winter.

Weiand says Ocotillo used to have a disadvantage being so far away from populated areas and still the golfers came anyway, following Ocotillo's outstanding reputation. Now, this has all changed with the opening of the new Price 101 Freeway which has made Ocotillo as convenient and accessible as any course in the valley.

Ocotillo Golf ClubWeiand also mentions the value of the course, playing a factor in popularity. From December 26 through April 4, 2004 prices are $155, as compared to courses of similar statures in Scottsdale which can charge close to $200. In the summer, green fees only charge $45. "In the summer we only use to see locals playing," Weiand said. "Now we're attracting tourists in the summer, as well as in the winter."

Ocotillo is not for golf travelers seeking the traditional desert feel. Ocotillo is a vacation from the desert, with its luscious rolling fairways and crystal blue water at every turn.

Besides the clubhouse, there are a number of restaurants nearby. Go back on I-10 heading North towards Phoenix.

A few exits away, at Ray Rd, turn either right or left for just about anything you could want. You'll find everything from Macaroni Grill, Mimi's Café, Rock Bottom Brewery, Ruby Tuesdays, Outback, TGI Friday's and more.

Directions

To get to the course from the West Valley, take I-10 to the Queen Creek exit, turn left and take Queen Creek to Price Rd. and turn right.The street curves around to Dobson Rd.where you take another right, at the second intersection, which is Ocotillo Rd. you will turn left and the entrance to the course is located .4 mile on the left.

To get to the course from the East Valley. follow the New 101 Freeway south to Price Rd. Follow Price Rd.through the Queen Creek intersection where the street curves around to meet Dobson Rd. where you take a right, at the second intersection, which is Ocotillo Rd. you will turn left and the entrance to the course is located .4 mile on the left.

Kelly SaulKelly Saul, Contributor

Kelly Saul received her B.A. in Broadcasting from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. After graduation in May 2001 she moved back to her native home of Los Angeles to work for NBC in Burbank.


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