Ocotillo Golf Resort in Chandler: Not your typical Arizona desert golf course
CHANDLER, Ariz. -- The first hint that Ocotillo Golf Resort isn't your typical Arizona course comes before you step on the property.
Drive south on Alma School Road and dozens of blue splotches will pop up on the GPS. They signify what Ocotillo is all about -- water, water and more water. There isn't a mountain range or a cactus in sight.
How much of the blue stuff will golfers encounter? Well, there are 27 holes at Ocotillo G.C., and water comes into play on 23 of them.
"You just have to learn how to navigate them -- or throw your ball over them," said Holly Ritter, a winter visitor from Iowa who plays Ocotillo on a regular basis. "But it is beautiful, and it's a very enjoyable course."
That Ocotillo is. The golf course, reminiscent of layouts in southern Florida, features waterfalls, palm trees and colorful flower beds. It's a treat on the eyes.
Of course, there are those 23 holes with water. Fortunately, golf course designer Ted Robinson had a sense of fair play when he laid out Ocotillo; while there undeniably is an abundance of aqua, golfers don't face too many 200-yard forced carries over the hazards.
The fairways are generous as well; drive it fairly straight off the tee, and much of the water won't come into play.
Ocotillo Golf Resort: Three courses
Ocotillo is divided into three nines: The Gold Course, the Blue Course and the White Course.
The Gold Course, which checks in at 3,519 yards from the tips, is a devilish test and not just because water comes into play on six of the holes. The greens have a lot of slope in them and are difficult to read. And some pin placements are brutal; hit a downhill putt two feet past the hole, and it might roll down into a swale and 30 feet by. Uphill putts, on the other hand, are extremely difficult to get to the hole, if for no other reason than Ocotillo's greens aren't as fast as some of the Valley's marquee desert courses.
Two holes stand out on the Gold: No. 5 is a 212-yard par 3 with water running down the entire left side; and No. 9 is a 468-yard par 4 with a carry over water from the tee -- water that dissects the fairway about 50 yards short of the green and water left to the green. Par there is a great score.
Ocotillo's Blue Course is a watery grave; the stuff comes into play on eight of the nine holes. It's not overly long, at 3,497 yards, but there's so much water the length becomes irrelevant. The best hole may be No. 1, a 590-yard par 5. Big hitters are faced with the classic risk-reward: Do they lay-up on their second shot or try to fly a tributary that splits the fairway about 50 yards short of the green?
The White Course is the most unique of the three. It has only one par 5, and the water is a factor on just five of the holes. But it also has the best hole on the property -- the 479-yard, par-4 ninth, which used to be an easy par 5 but is now a treacherous finishing touch.
The approach shot is a forced carry over water -- with either a long iron, hybrid or 3 wood in hand.
Good luck with that.
Ocotillo Golf Resort: The verdict
If you come to Arizona to play desert golf, forget about Ocotillo. It's about as much a desert course as Augusta National is a local muni.
But Ocotillo is a refreshing change of pace from most of the Valley's courses precisely because it isn't surrounded by desert.