The land upon which Dobson Ranch Golf Course was built dates back to 1886 when Wilson Wesley Dobson emigrated to Arizona from Canada. Dobson chose wisely. As many as 20,000 head of cattle once roamed the land that is now Baseline Road, what many considered to be some of the best land in the state.
The golf course sits on the original Dobson family homestead and the several acres that bordered it near the intersection of Dobson and Baseline Roads. The building which now houses Dobson’s Restaurant was built in the early 1950s. It was surrounded by a busy, working cattle ranch encompassing 2,600 acres of land, most of which lies within a two-mile radius of the golf course. The main dining area was where many cattle buyers came to deal in beef. The home’s large, adjacent garage was remodeled and, for many years, served as the golf course’s first pro shop and clubhouse.
In 1971, Continental Homes purchased the Dobson property to develop a planned community that would eventually include a population of approximately 30,000. The enhanced recreation facilities, Continental Homes also built an 18-hole golf course, were given to the City of Mesa to operate as a public facility in June of 1973. The parkland-style course was designed by Red Lawrence (who also designed Desert Forest Golf Club in Carefree and Tucson Country Club), and construction was finished in April of 1974. The course plays 6,712 yards from the Blue Tees to a Par of 72, a course rating of 71.1, and a slope of 123. Here are some of the highlights of the round:
Holes Worth Writing Home About
I don’t know if it’s because it’s so hot right now or if conditions are usually this fast and firm, but all of the Par 5s at Dobson Ranch are reachable in two for someone of average length like me. I hit the ball 270-280 yards off the tee, and I can get home in two on each of the Par 5s. Here are their yardages: 548, 506, 492, and 490 yards. How sweet is that? It’s nice to have two-putt birdies. But if you don’t make birdies on these holes, you feel like you’re really leaving something on the table.
I think that’s what I like so much about the first hole. If you were playing in a tournament out here, you would have a great opportunity to get off to a birdie or better start, right out of gate. Hit driver, 5-wood, and you’re there. The hole plays straight away. The greens are bermuda, and the green complexes at Dobson are wide and undulating. You don’t have to hit a perfect shot to make an easy birdie. The same thing can be said about the 492-yard Par 5 13th hole. What you see is what you get. These holes are virtually straight.
What you’ll notice is that the front side plays some 500 yards longer than the back. One of my classmates recently shot a 29 on the back nine at Dobson. He’s a good player. But there’s no reason why you can’t go low on a nine-hole stretch that measures just 3,100 yards. There are more doglegs on the back, but again, you can make your fair share of birdies (and at worst, par) just by keeping the ball in the fairway and away from overhanging tree trouble.
Look, this course is old school. It’s been around a while. Sure, it’s a little strange that the pro shop gives you $1 back when you return your golf cart key (what am I, five-years old?), but don’t let that cloud your judgement. This is a great course in its own right, and it’s a lot of fun to play.
Playing conditions were very good. Even after 5:00p, the greens had enough moisture in them to hold and spin approach shots into greens. Dobson Ranch is in the middle of a major construction project right now. They are re-surfacing all of the ponds, canals, and water collection areas on the course. There are pumps and generators all along the course where they’ve drained one lake and are feeding the water into another. The course doesn’t have anything to do with the project. It’s a City of Mesa renovation, and hopefully, it’s almost finished. It doesn’t take away from the playability of the course, but it doesn’t do anything for aesthetics to have backhoes rumbling around the property.
I tried hitting a new shot under playing conditions. My ball came up just short and right off of the green on the 384-yard Par 4 3rd hole. Rather than try to pitch the ball onto the putting surface, I elected to use my 3-iron hybrid to putt it through the apron and onto the green. I hit the ball to within two feet. I haven’t practiced the shot very much, but I was very happy with the result.
While We’re Young
We teed off a little before or right at 4:00p. We still finished in 3:10, but had we not run into the remnants of the Mesa City Junior Championship, we could have easily made it around in under three hours. That’s what happens when you have three guys who know where it’s going and two golf carts.
Next On the Tee
The Ambiente Course at Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale. I’ve never played it.