We-Ko-Pa Golf Club near Scottsdale offers tranquility and a great 36-hole experience

By Bill Bowman, Contributor

FORT McDOWELL, Ariz. -- The beauty is breathtaking. The setting is tranquil. The golf challenge is unbelievable.

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club - Cholla course - hole 9
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club offers tremendous shot-making tests and a serenity players dream about but seldom experience.
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club - Cholla course - hole 9We-Ko-Pa Golf Club - Saguaro course - hole 17We-Ko-Pa Golf Club - Saguaro course - hole 18We-Ko-Pa Golf Club - Saguaro course - hole 2Cholla Course at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club - No. 18
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We-Ko-Pa Golf Club - Cholla Course

4.5 stars out of 5 (based on 3 reviews)
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The Cholla course at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club is the original, Scott Miller design that plays to a challenging 7,225 yards from the tips. Though perhaps more challenging than the neighboring Saguaro, the Cholla features more forced carries but less bunkers, only 75 of them spread over the entire golf course. You’re far more likely to contend with the natural sand of the surrounding Sonora desert.

18 Holes | Public/Resort golf course | Par: 72 | 7225 yards | ... details »

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club - Saguaro Course

5 stars out of 5 (based on 3 reviews)
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The Saguaro course at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club is one of the newer golf courses in Scottsdale’s golf resort corridor, having opened at the beginning of 2006. A Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw design, it’s not a golf course where you can swing hesitantly: You need to be sure of your golf shots, and commit to them. Fairways and greens are maintained in excellent condition, and it’s a walker’s dream of a golf course.

18 Holes | Public/Resort golf course | Par: 71 | 6966 yards | ... details »

Welcome to We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, a 36-hole golf resort located just outside Scottsdale. The resort, which consists of the Saguaro Course (designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw) and the Cholla Course (designed by Scott Miller), will amaze players with the unique designs of the two layouts. Add in tremendous shot-making tests and a serenity players dream about but seldom experience, and you have a perfect golf destination.

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club: Saguaro Course

We-Ko-Pa's Saguaro Course opened in 2006 and completed the 36-hole club.

"Coore and Crenshaw did a great job here," said Brett Trenter, general manager at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club. "They didn't move a lot of dirt. They didn't have to. They let the lay of the land dictate the hole. If there was movement on the land, there is movement on the hole."

Take the par-3 15th and the par-4 16th, for example. Both of the holes are straightforward but offer amazing challenges. The 15th plays 255 yards from the tips. There's plenty of bailout room to the right, but left and short are not the places to miss. The 16th is just 328 yards from the tips. That's the good news for those looking to take a chance at driving the green. The bad news is there are bunkers short left and short right, so pinpoint accuracy is a must. Take a hybrid off the tee, play to the middle of the green and take your chance at birdie with the putter.

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club: Cholla Course

We-Ko-Pa's Cholla Course, which is the original design, opened in 2001. Miller's layout stretches to 7,225 yards from the tips and is literally desert with amazing lush, green strips placed from tees to greens.

The opening hole is a prime example. With tee boxes set in the desert, players hit over desert and wash areas to a fairway that bends naturally to the left. At 351 yards, it's a short par 4 and a great way to open the round. A long iron or hybrid off the tee followed by an iron into the green should give players an early chance at birdie along with dramatic views of the amazing golf layout in front of them.

The finishing hole is the only one in the 36-hole design with a water feature. And it's a dandy. The par 4 plays 432 yards with a split bunker cutting through the fairway and water running down the last half of the hole on the right side.

Trenter points out that We-Ko-Pa is still a very young facility.

"The Coore/Crenshaw course isn't even five years old yet, and the Miller course isn't 10 years old, so we're still growing. Our fan base keeps expanding, and we're growing by word of mouth. That's the best way. If players have a good time, they will tell their friends and that's what we want."

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club: In the clubhouse

From sandwiches to wraps to burgers to tacos, the We-Ko-Pa Grill has choices to satisfy any appetite. And the food prices are competitive, Trenter said.

"We want to give the players quality food at a fair price," he said.

Add in the dramatic views of the surrounding mountains and the golf course, and you've got the ideal place to relax with your meal.

Home on the range

If you're looking to warm up before the round -- or just want to come over from the resort to practice -- the setup at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club is perfect. From two ranges (one for each course, so the staff knows where golfers are warming up for each of the 18 holes) to the bunkers to the putting green, the conditions are as perfect here as they are on the courses.

"It's the perfect area to work on all aspects of your game," Trenter said.

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club: The verdict

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club is as close to paradise as most golfers will find. It's just you and your golf game. No traffic, no housing. Just you, your clubs and the natural surroundings.

"We're extremely proud with what we have here at We-Ko-Pa," Trenter said. "The land we have lends itself to a great experience on each course. And with two different golf courses, players get a different experience. It's just a true desert golf experience.

"Players will feel like they are on their own golf course -- they are that secluded. It's a great feeling."

Bill BowmanBill Bowman, Contributor

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 16-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas and has teed it up for magazine profiles with celebrities including comedian Bill Engvall, actor Jeffrey Donovan (USA's Burn Notice), ESPN personality Colin Cowherd, NASCAR's Kurt Busch, Collective Soul's Ed Roland, the Baltimore Ravens' Jonathan Ogden and many others.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • WeKoPa

    Tom Karalis wrote on: Feb 17, 2014

    Great article Bill. You hit it down the middle with WKP. Played there many times and was never disappointed - a must play whenever you're in the Scottsdale area. Will be playing it for my 50th in June with my golf buddies. Can't wait and will leave my latest review then.