The Takeaway: Chiricahua and Geronimo are consistently regarded as the best of the seven courses at Desert Mountain, while the ultra versatile Renegade stands as the other course in the discussion. Elevation changes, towering saguaros, and panorama views ensure an enjoyable round. Grade B+
Designer: Jack Nicklaus in 1999
Phone Number: (480) 595-4850
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Desert Mountain (Chiricahua)'s official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 42429 N. Saguaro Forest Drive, Scottsdale, Arizona 85262 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: Located at the north end of the expansive Desert Mountain property, the Chiricahua course is the fifth of seven Jack Nicklaus tracks found within the gates of the prestigious development north of Scottsdale. The highest in elevation of the Desert Mountain courses, Chiricahua features 300 feet of change throughout the routing and is characterized by views of the Phoenix valley coupled with large saguaros peppered along the terrain. Virtually every hole climbs uphill or tumbles downhill along the varied topography found at Chiricahua lending itself to some dramatic hole designs. Conditioning is absolutely spot on and adds to the overall enjoyment of the course. The fairways are generous, a necessary element for a successful desert course, and the undulated greens add variety to the round. All in all, the Chiricahua course at Desert Mountain is one of the premier layouts in the Arizona desert and a must play for any Nicklaus fan.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 14th Hole – 159 Yard Par 3 – Inspired by the 6th hole at Riviera, the 14th at Chiricahua features a bunker in the center of the green. The backside of the bunker is raised to a tall face and creates two distinct tiers in the green which add an extra level of challenge when navigating the putting surface. The green is 2.5x wider than it is deep, and when the flag is tucked behind the center bunker there is just seven yards to work with and a slope that runs off the back. Five other bunkers surround the green, but the one smack dab in the middle of the putting surface is the one you need to be concerned with the most.
Best Par 3: 12th Hole – 190 Yards – The 12th plays directly west into the prevailing wind to a green that is twice as wide as it is deep. The eye catching feature is the large bunker that ascends from the natural desert up to the center of the green and pinches the putting surface to its shallowest point. The left side of the green has more surface to land on but it more protected by sand, whereas the right side players can get more aggressive with. There are areas shorts on each side to miss to in case the wind knocks your ball down, but missing into the desert will assuredly leave players with a bogey or worse on their card.
Best Par 4: 13th Hole – 416 Yards – The two center bunkers 300 yards away on the far side of the fairway are the perfect line on this dogleg left. The closer your tee shot gets to the bunkers the narrower the fairway gets, so driver off the tee may not be the play if your accuracy has been sketchy at all for the day. The approach shot plays downhill to a green fronted by a barranca and a bunker and will require an aerial ball that lands softly to hold the putting surface.
Best Par 5: 15th Hole – 582 Yards – The two fairways on the 15th are virtual islands surrounded by desert, so accuracy is paramount to success. The tee shot plays over an aiming bunker that sits on the near side of the fairway and is the perfect spot to hit a baby fade over. On the second shot players will have to decide whether to hit over the large bunker and saguaro that sit 75 yards from the green or whether to layup short of them. The green slopes from left to right so the best putts come from the right side but controlling spin on the approach is needed to prevent the ball from sloping too far right.
Birdie Time: 2nd Hole – 287 Yard Par 4 – Hopefully you warmed up at the range before hitting the course because Jack gives players a gift on the 2nd hole with an opportunity to card a birdie right off the bat. Measuring less than some of the longest par threes in the country, the driveable 2nd hole features a green tucked behind bunkers and among the saguaros. The bold play is to take a rip at the green and hope that you avoid the trouble, but an iron out to the fairway and a short wedge shot at the flag can be just as effective. In match play this would be a killer hole to have late in the round, but in stroke play it is a great way to build momentum for your round.
Bogey Beware: 10th Hole – 482 Yard Par 4 – The back nine is the better of the two sides at Desert Mountain's Chiricahua course, but the 10th is going to make sure you have your 'A' game going if you are going to start with a par. The tee shot plays to a fairway flanked by desert on each side and a lone bunker 300+ yards away on the left side. The approach shot then must carry a barranca that fronts the green and will consume any ball that comes up short or swerves right. The bail out is long and left where a hillside will contain balls and kick them back towards the putting surface. Greens in regulation are rare here, so there is no shame is laying up short on the second shot and trusting your wedge to get you up and down.