Private 18 Holes of Jack Nicklaus Signature Championship Golf
By by Nancy Howard
Nestled high above the Valley of the Sun, sits an unprecedented and exquisite golf community appropriately named, Desert Mountain. Upon entering the private and gated community, you come to an additional gate entrance to the Village of Saguaro Forest and Chiricahua Course. Now you know it’s going to be a unique and unbelievable experience just from having to go through two gates, let along all the beauty you have witnessed on your drive reaching it. And, trust me, you will not be disappointed!
Chiricahua is the fifth of the six Jack Nicklaus Signature Championship courses offered to members at Desert Mountain. At 3,000 to 3,300 elevation, we definitely felt it during our round with 10-15mph winds and 20-30 mph gusts, especially with the Head Golf Professional, Tom Vanhaaren, reminding us that they had 2-3” of snow three days prior. Even with that in our minds, the course conditions were immaculate. My, what a spectacular round of golf was had by all.
The 7, 197 yard, par 72 course opened in 1999 and received accolades as “Top 25 Arizona Courses” award from Golf Digest in 2011 and “Top 100 Residential Courses” from Golfweek in 2007. Chiricahua is truly a showcase, from the far reaching views, to the serenity you find in the rock formations and ever-present canyons, this property is second to none.
Chiricahua is definitely an avid golfers ultimate dream with generous fairways, vast surrounding views of mountain ranges, and undulating Bent Grass greens. This is mountain golf that you must “Think” your way through, with the slickest greens you’ll experience, off the PGA Tour. Without the aid of Tom Vanhaaren reading the greens for us, our crew would have easily had 3 to 5 putts on every green from the misreads.
The visuals from each tee box boggles the mind and you have to get past these, trust the yardage and your swing to meet the challenge. With so many optical illusions, I can’t imagine not having assistance to know where to visualize your shot. “Exceptional” is the only word that comes to mind, yet this is a fair course and the ladies’ tee boxes are designed for our experience to be just as exceptional as the tips. Well…close to it.
Let’s talk about the par 3s. Unbelievable! And, somewhat “Scary”! No shortage on the yardages for sure, with plenty of boulders and deep bunkering, along with elevation changes to make you question if a birdie, let alone a par, is even feasible. And, somehow, they are…leaving you scratching your head as to how you were able to accomplish that as well as leaving with a large smile on your face when it happens.
The Chiricahua Clubhouse is magnificent, set high above the 18th Hole and a faithful recreation of an Old World Italian olive vineyard and farmhouse, situated on a hillside at an elevation of 3,300 feet. The exterior features genuine mud-stacked roofs over intricately hand- and mortar-stacked aged grey stone and charming design elements.
The Clubhouse offers a well-appointed Pro Shop, Men and Ladies’ Locker Rooms, and Constantino’s restaurant which includes a casual bar and lounge “taverna;” a lushly-draped and self-contained room called the “cheater’s booth” with built-in dining settee for six in the elegant dining room; and a special chef’s dining room entered through the kitchen which allows guests to interact with the kitchen staff and seats 10. The Chiricahua Grill sits in the lower portion of the Clubhouse and offers casual and cozy ‘just off the course’ inside and patio dining. Service, as you would expect, is impeccable!
Hole #12, par 3, 190 yards from the tips – by Michael Schieffer. This a dazzling, yet challenging par three. Hitting off the elevated tee boxes over an enormous rocky ravine makes for an awesome view. Don’t bother searching for your balls if they fall short. A giant figure of boulders with a bunker behind it blocks the front entrance to the green. You’re better off going slightly right or left of the target area. If the wind is blowing, leave your ego in the cart and club up twice. As long as the breathtaking scenery doesn’t overwhelm you, par or even birdie are there for the taking.
In addition to the six courses, Desert Mountain offers the most extensive golf practice facility in Arizona including multiple pitching, chipping, putting and bunker areas, and four separate practice ranges with target greens. The newest golf amenity is a $1.6 million Golf Performance Center featuring the most advanced technology in the industry today all in one place, making it the only facility of its kind in the country.
For an avid golfer, or one who admires exquisitely beautiful surroundings, if you need a goal to reach in your life...being a member and living at Desert Mountain would be the ultimate goal for your lifetime!
For information about memberships, contact Membership Relations Manager Nicole Forbes at 480.595.4318. Memberships are available without the purchase of property.