Ocotillo Golf Resort

The combination of trees
The combination of trees, bunkers, and water make Ocotillo a “must play.”

Ocotillo Golf Resort in Chandler is unlike any course I’ve ever played. I don’t know to what I would compare it. When I asked Director of Golf Mark Bateman to describe it, he was very candid in saying, “Instead of desert, there’s water.” Ocotillo Golf Resort is a Troon Golf (Scottsdale) property. All of the Troon Golf properties I’ve ever visited have been first class, and Ocotillo was no exception.

The course was designed by Ted Robinson (who also designed the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale) and opened in 1986. Golf World lists it as a Top 50 Resort and Golf Digest gives it a four and-a-half star rating. What you can’t help but notice about Robinson’s vision are the beautiful, and at times, dramatic water features throughout the courses.

This time of year, the geese are out with their goslings.
This time of year, the geese are out with their goslings. These guys are getting big!

There are three nines out here: Blue, Gold, and White. While the Ocotillo Golf Resort web site describes itself as “a traditional-style course whose lush fairways, cascading waterfalls, and colorful flora offer a unique contrast to the desert-landscaped courses that permeate the Valley,” there is nothing traditional about it. The Blue Course plays 3,497 yards from the Gold Tees, The Gold Course plays 3,545 yards from the Gold Tees, and the White Course plays 3,285 yards from the Gold tees. The Blue/Gold combination plays the most difficult – 7,042 yards from the Gold Tees to a Par of 72, a course rating of 72.7, and a slope of 134. Here are some of the highlights of the round:

Holes Worth Writing Home About
We played the Gold/Blue nines. It’s important that you know your landing areas. The yardage guides on all the carts are a nice (and welcomed) touch for this reason. I like it when courses include guides like this to encourage golfers to play better. It’s usually something I don’t shell out the extra $5 for. The first hole is a perfect example. If you don’t hit the ball in the correct spot off the tee, it’s easy to make double bogey or worse. That said, my favorite hole on this nine was the 386-yard Par 4 4th hole. The tee shot plays over water to a landing area with water and bunker to the left and trees and another bunker on the right. A drive of 285 yards will go through the fairway and into the water hazard. The approach shot is over water (again) to a green with bunkers short and long. A bridge connects the landing area to the green complex which is a nice visual.

The bridge
Water comes into play off the tee and into the green on the Gold Course’s 4th hole. 

The greens out here are bermuda grass, and they are firm. The holes have sharp edges, and there were several lip-outs in our group. On a few holes, the greens were so quick downgrain that, depending on the pin placement, it was easy to putt the ball right off the green.

When we turned onto the Blue Course, you couldn’t help but notice all of the homes bordering the golf course. Usually, there was a body of water separating the homes from the course too. We saw people swimming and kayaking, and you can see how the outdoor patio would be a popular spot in the evening. Some of the homes out here are stunning.

Quiet Please…
Ocotillo Golf Resort had a grass driving range and a pair of practice putting greens. What I didn’t see was a short game area. It would be nice to be able to hit some bunker and short wedge shots before playing a course that requires such exact yardages into greens.

Looking back
There are a ton of homes bordering the fairways on the Blue Course. 

It was a really windy day the day we played the course, and I think that dried out some of the greens, adding to the degree of difficulty. You will like this course, no matter your skill level. I recommend choosing a tee box more forward of what you’re used to playing the first time you come out here so you can get a sense of where to land the ball off the tee.

My best shot of the day came on the Par 5 1st hole on the Blue Course. Because it was so windy, we decided to play the Blue Tees. I had 211 yards into the green for my 2nd shot downwind and hit a grip-down 3-iron hybrid that rolled long and right through the green. Because the pin was back, I was able to chip the ball close for a tap-in birdie.

While We’re Young
We got around the course in a little over four hours. Like all Troon Golf facilities (because Troon Values Your Time), Ocotillo has a Time Par. In this case, it’s four hours and ten minutes. There’s plenty of signage around Ocotillo Golf Resort reminding players that they should finish in no more than 4:10.

All Troon Golf facilities post a Time Par for golfers to aim for.
All Troon Golf facilities post a Time Par for golfers to finish. Ocotillo is no different.

Next On the Tee
While I would really like to come back out to Ocotillo Golf Resort and play the White Course, I have to try to make it out to either Southern Dunes or Whirlwind Golf Club, both Troon Golf facilities. These courses are still in great shape during the summer months because they sit on Indian reservation land with unlimited watering rights. Even in the middle of the summer, the fairways and greens are lush. I’m also going out to Boulder, Colorado with my wife at the end of the month. Maybe I’ll pick up a round while I’m there.

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