19th Hole

Justin Henderson
PGA Head Golf Professional
Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club
Wickenburg, AZ

More Information

Little Course. Big Story.

It’s no secret that golf participation rates haven’t been exactly booming in recent years. As an industry, the golf community has worked hard to bring people to the game and encourage them to enjoy the game more often. 

In doing so, we’ve learned a great deal about why people don’t play more golf. Typically, it comes down to three things: golf is too time consuming; golf is too expensive; and golf is too intimidating for beginners. Whether or not these perceptions are correct is immaterial. What is important is that this is what many people believe about golf. Perception is reality; so these are the issues the industry must address. 

Golf leaders in Arizona have accepted this challenge head on. A few seasons ago, the Boulders in Carefree introduced its “pebble tees” on nine holes, creating a par-3 course-within-a-course that can be played in about an hour. This past summer, TPC Scottsdale unveiled its Sunset Loop, a five-hole track that was available from 4:30 to 7 pm on Friday and Saturday afternoons. Both of these programs have proven successful getting new golfers out on the course, and made it easier for seasoned golfers to spend time with friends and family.

However, in November, Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club in Wickenburg, Arizona, will take this concept even further with the opening of its Li’l Wick Golf Short-Game Park. 

Li’l Wick is a nine-hole, par-3 golf course routed through a canyon on the northwestern flank of the Wickenburg Ranch community. Its quality is second to none. The setting has tons of natural beauty and character. The greens are bentgrass, and the entire 18-acre site is maintained to the same exceptional standards as the full-sized Wickenburg Ranch golf course, which earned a spot among Golf Digest’s 2015 Top 10 Best New Golf Courses in North America. 

But that’s just the start. Li’l Wick is so much more than simply an abbreviated golf course. The golf holes surround a fun bar and grill decked out with popular outdoor games, wide-screen televisions, fire pits, and music. Play is first-come, first served – no tee time required. So, golfers are able to come on and off the course at will, switching between golf, dining, chatting with friends, and other games as they choose. Golf attire is not required. Guests are free to play in flip flops and tee shirts…or even barefooted…if they like. The whole thing is extremely casual and exceptionally fun, especially with over 60 speakers wired up through the course, allowing guests to “jam-out” as they play. And, four of Li’l Wick’s nine holes are lit, allowing the party to last well into the evening. It is even planned Li’l Wick may have an amphitheater for live music and special events, an observatory and an outdoor yoga park in the future.

It’s too soon to know yet if innovative designs such as this will drive the future of golf development. But creating opportunities for golf to be more accessible, more fun and less time consuming certainly holds the potential to bring more players to the game.

For more information, visit wickenburgranch.com

Justin Henderson is the Head Golf Professional at Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club, the award-winning centerpiece to Shea Homes’ exciting new Trilogy® at Wickenburg Ranch master-planned, resort-style community. Learn more about Justin and Trilogy at http://www.trilogylife.com/ wickenburg