Camelback Golf Club's Indian Bend course: A scenic, player-friendly gem in Scottsdale

By Dave Williams, Contributor

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Nestled near the foothills of Camelback Mountain, Camelback Golf Club in Paradise Valley is one of the most scenic golf courses in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The combination of mountain backdrops and million-dollar homes lining the fairways is breathtaking. Camelback Golf Club's Indian Bend course is also very player friendly.

Camelback Golf Club - clubhouse
Camelback Golf Club is one of the most scenic golf courses in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.
Camelback Golf Club - clubhouse
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The JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club offers two 18-hole courses, the Padre and the Ambiente (formerly known as Indian Bend Course). Nestled in Paradise Valley, the Ambiente Course enjoys stunning mountain backdrops.

18 Holes | Resort golf course | Par: 72 | 7225 yards | Book online | ... details »

The doglegs, bunkers, and trees can cause extra strokes, but the layout offers escapes from hazards, making outstanding golf for those of any skill level. There are changes taking place at Camelback Golf Club. In late February, a new 36,000 square foot clubhouse will be finished.

Part of the renovation is a new Arthur Hills-designed 18 hole championship layout, also opening in late February, and will be the subject of a separate review. The par-72 Indian Bend Course has three tees, ranging from 7,017 yards to 5,808 yards. Golfers with more than an 8 handicap are requested to use the middle tees (6,486 yards).

When you first arrive at Camelback Golf Club, you'll be dropping off your golf bag at the new clubhouse. While the renovation is underway, the temporary clubhouse is located in a trailer, but still offers the necessities of balls, shirts, caps, and gloves. There is a putting green near the first tee. The driving range is part of the renovation project opening in late February.

The first hole's design will be followed on a number of holes -- dogleg, plenty of landing room, fairways lined with trees, and expensive homes out of bounds. It's not easy starting your round with the number one handicap hole. The 400 yard par 4 has room to the right for your tee shot, but it means a shot over the trees to an elevated green.

It's best to be down the left side of the fairway for your approach shot to the green, which on this day was one of the few fast greens. Number 2 doglegs to the left. There is a bunker on the left to protect the dogleg and may cause problems for anyone wanting to take a short cut on this par 5.

Only long hitters can reach this 535-yard hole in two shots. Trees are on the right and left of the fairway. A bunker is short left of the green, and another on the right side. A shot can run up on the green, which is open in the front. Better to be short of the hole than long because the green slopes from the back to the front.

The first par 3 is hole number 3. The 150-yard hole is a good par 3 with birdie possibilities. There are four bunkers surrounding the green, which slopes back to front. If you have a putt from above the hole, don't be fooled by the speed. It will be slower than you think.

This is about the spot when you might begin to be distracted by the mountains in the background and the million dollar homes that line the fairways. Both are worth a look.

You'll be looking at a dogleg right par 4 on the 4th hole. The 380-yard hole is tree lined that should leave just a short iron left after a good drive. There are two bunkers at the green, one right front and the other right back. A short shot on the open left side should run up onto the green, which is fairly flat.

Number 5 is a straight par 4 with out of bounds on left where the houses are located. Although there is O.B., there is still plenty of room to go left. You'll still find the trees, which will make it difficult to hit the green in regulation.

There are bunkers on the left and right side of the green. A good tee shot on number 6 could give you a shot at reaching this par 5 in two shots. Stay out of the trees on the right and left of the fairway and give it a try. There are no hazards in front of the green. Greenside bunkers are found on the left and right.

No. 7 is a short 370-yard par 4 that could be a birdie hole or a bogie plus, depending on your tee shot. A ball to the left could find one of two fairway bunkers. If you miss the bunkers, there are plenty of trees. Keep it in the fairway and a short iron to the green will give you a chance for a birdie. If your approach shot is short left, there is a large bunker.

If it is long, there are trees in the back of the green. The medium length par 3 eighth hole has a large green that slopes back to front. Bunkers on the right front and back and left front and back provide difficulty for off-line shots. Use plenty of club.

No. 9 is a 400-yard par 4 with a ravine to the right bordered by palm trees. There is a wide landing area on the right side of the fairway. A short tee short to the right could find an elevated pot bunker. The narrow green has two bunkers on the left and one on the right.

The back nine starts with a short par 4 that doglegs to the right. The fairway on the right is lined with three bunkers and a long tee shot to the left will find water. The green, surrounded by three bunkers, is one of the few two level greens on this course.

If you don't get on the correct level, a three-putt is a strong possibility. A pulled approach shot could find water. It's a good way to start the final nine holes. Next is a 140-yard par 3 that is the 18th ranked handicap hole. If you stay out of the three bunkers around the green, there is a good chance for a birdie.

There are three fairway bunkers on the 12th hole. The par four has two on the left and one on the right. Miss to the right of the bunker and the ball could bounce down to long dry rough and be lost.

The approach shot from the fairway will be down to a green that has two bunkers on the left and one on the right. Lucky 13 is a long par 5 and number 2 rated handicap hole. A fairway bunker is on the right. Play it for a three shot hole and play for par.

Bunkers are on the right and left and trees in the back of the green. Fourteen is a short par 4. The fairway is tree-lined and the green has three bunkers and water far left to catch a badly hit approach shot.

A short par 3 and water awaits you on the 15th hole. The green has two bunkers, one on the left and one on the right. Water is on the right, but a ball hit to the right won't necessarily find water.

There is plenty of green between the bunker and water, but it will leave a difficult second shot to get a makeable par putt. A 345-yard par 4 sixteenth hole and 360 yard par 4 seventeenth hole will give you opportunities to make up any shots. You'll find water in front of the tee on number 16, but it shouldn't come into play except for a topped tee shot.

There are two bunkers in front of the green and one on the left. The 17th hole is slightly uphill, leaving a little longer approach shot to the green with three bunkers.

The par-5 18th hole is a good finishing hole. A severe dog leg right, tree-lined fairway gives you little chance of reaching the green in two shots. A shot to the right will cut off some of the distance if you can find the ball in the long dry rough. You'll then have a shot over trees to get back into the fairway.

The green is two levels and undulates. A bunker in the back and one on each side catch off-line third shots. Get close to the hole and finish off the round with a birdie. Marriott's Camelback Golf Club can challenge you, but is still a very playable course for all golfers who want a resort golf experience.

Dave Williams, Contributor

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