Tatum Ranch Golf Club: Time is Running Out for the General Public

By Kelly A. Saul, Contributor

CAVE CREEK, AZ - Golfers, travelers, guests...lend me your ears. Now is the time to take advantage of one of the premier golf courses in Arizona, Tatum Ranch Golf Club. A course delivering desirable conditions and reflecting the true colors of the desert, Tatum Ranch will soon become a private country club. So those of you who enjoy a picturesque round of golf on the public course circuit, time is running out.

Tatum Ranch Golf Club
A large bunker fronts the third green at Tatum Ranch Golf Club.
Tatum Ranch Golf Club
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Tatum Ranch Golf Club

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Tatum Ranch Golf Club sits on the edge of Scottsdale, surrounded by the beauty of the Sonoran Desert. The course offers a variety of different shot-making opportunities thanks to the rugged desert terrain, which tumbles across a range of elevation changes.

18 Holes | Private golf course | Par: 72 | 6856 yards | ... details »

"It is a desert style golf course, but it's forgiving off the tee boxes," said head golf professional Ben Dobbs. "Really good for a wide range of golfers."

Robert Cupp designed the course in 1986. The entrance is currently under construction, preparing for the transition to a private club. (As soon as enough memberships are sold, Tatum Ranch will be exclusively a private course.) Two small dark pink and purple buildings skirt the putting green behind the bag drop. On the right is the snack bar with outdoor seating and on the left is the pro shop rebuilt just last month.

This is a very woman-friendly course. It's relatively flat layout and wide-open fairways make for an enjoyable afternoon for golfers at all levels. Forward tees, which play at 5,081 yards, are given a huge break on many of the holes.

This advantage eliminates the first-shot threat of desert gullies weaving in and out of the entire course. The desert cannot be avoided completely, but from tee box to fairway, forward players will be pleasantly surprised.

A unique feature of the layout is the occasional split fairways. A sand or grass bunker may pose initial danger, but a crooked shot might not be disastrous if the fairway forks and meets up again at the base of the green.

"Our members will not leave wanting to quit golf," said Dobbs. "What you see is what you get."

The layout measures 6,870 yards from the championship tees with a slope rating of 128. Seasoned golfers will find the course challenging because the desert usually comes into play more frequently for them than shorter hitters.

Guests are allowed to hit out of the surrounding desert or can take a drop with penalty. The desert-style transition areas at Tatum Ranch are very flat and filled with tightly packed sand. There are several areas, however, filled with large rocks where a recovery shot can be nearly impossible. Both types of transition areas are saturated with desert plants and wildlife. Tall cactus and bright yellow flowers give the course a plush desert feel.

The course is kept is excellent condition and the fairways and greens are impeccably manicured. The small greens are hard and roll fast, very typical of a desert course where the wind blows often. There are three pin placements, labeled A, B and C.

Golfers in the area who wish to join have three different membership options to choose from: Full Golf Membership, Junior Executive Golf Membership and Corporate Golf Membership. Currently the course is only open to the public Monday through Friday.

A new clubhouse, currently in progress, will include all private club facilities such as a formal dining area, men and women's locker rooms, swimming pool and lounge. There is a new pro shop, opened just over a month ago. Golfers who come to Tatum Ranch can look forward to a very friendly staff who makes guests feel right at home.

There are several ways to get to Tatum Ranch Golf Club. I, however, seemed to take the longest way, partly because of the passenger in my car.

Although I can't complain because the scenery was some of the best Arizona has to offer. From Sky Harbor Airport, I took the 202 Loop East to 101 North. It's important to exit at the Pima-Princess off-ramp, not Pima-90th St., and then continue North. The freeway ends, but the road to a golfer's paradise continues.

Driving to the course you pass landmarks such as the TPC, Grayhawk, and Troon North. The clay artwork lining the freeway is spectacular, blending together a wide variety of Southwest shades and desert wildlife.

A left on Dixileta begins a panoramic view of beautiful Adobe homes, spread out and crafted with a blend of putty and peach coloring. Turn right on Tatum and the course is on the left-hand side.

For the quickest way to get to the course from Central Phoenix, take the 51 North and exit Bell. Turn right and take a left on Tatum Ranch. Continue North until you see the course on your right. From 7th Street go North, head East on Cave Creek. Make a right on Tatum Ranch.

For those in search of food and entertainment, North Scottsdale has really grown in the last five years. A few miles south on Scottsdale Road, between Greenway and Bell, you'll find P.F. Chang's, The Cheesecake Factory and Morton's Steakhouse. All three of these restaurants are within walking distance of each other in a strip mall setting which also includes a wide variety of shops.

Travelers looking for a piece of the "Old West " can visit Rawhide, just a few minutes ride from the course. The rendition of an 1880's Wild West town includes over twenty rides, games, attractions, and restaurants. Rawhide is located on Scottsdale Road, just four miles north of Bell Road in Scottsdale, Arizona. Open from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM daily.

Tatum Ranch Golf Club
29888 N. Tatum Ranch Dr.
Cave Creek, AZ 85331
(480) 585-2399
Green Fees:
M-Th.: $110 after 1 p.m.: $70
Friday: $150 after 1 p.m.: $90


Condition: A
Scenery: A+
Layout: B-
Service: A
Value: B-
Clubhouse/Pro Shop: A+
Pace of Play: A
Value: A-
Overall Rating: B

Kelly A. Saul, Contributor

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