Media Classic2018 Tournament
Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club
Location: 3430 Club Terrace Way, Wickenburg, Arizona 85390
Course Architect: Bill Brownlee and Wendell Pickett
Yardage/Rating/Slope: Black 7,059/72.9/140
Red (Back) 4,991/63.5/110
Red (Front) 4,847/63.0/109
Saturday Morning Greens Fee: $230 with cart in-season
Caddie Service: Forecaddies available
Walker Friendly: No
Fairways: Bermuda (summer); over-seeded with Perennial Rye (winter)
Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club is a residential golf course facility located 90 minutes (60 miles) north of Phoenix. It features a serious but enjoyable 18-hole championship course known as “Big Wick” (reviewed here) and “Li’l Wick,” a playful 9-hole par 3 (with lights on four holes) built around a cool outdoor sports bar. Both courses were designed by project developer Bill Brownlee and landscape architect Wendell Pickett. Like other first-time golf course architects, Brownlee and Pickett didn’t allow their imaginations to be restricted by traditional hole designs or par lineups, the result of which are both good and, shall we say, questionable at times. The course features six par 3s, five par 5s, and seven par 4s. Course conditions are superb. Some greens can be a bit punitive, but we would expect this to be remedied over time, as the architects truly seem to prefer fun over frustration when it comes to serving their golfers. Six sets of tees create an environment where most everyone can play. This residential huge community is in the early stages of development far from the hustle and bustle of suburbanized Phoenix metro, allowing one to catch inspiring glimpses of the Old West while passing nearby rodeo facilities and ranches. Quick, get there before every vestige of that glorious American era has been eradicated.
Play Because: This is a big, sprawling golf course designed to challenge and delight players of all levels. One can bite off the 7,059-yard Black (back) tees, opt for the 4,847-yard Red Front tees or play from any of four sets of tees in between. Big Wick features a good number of downhill tee shots (a favorite of the distance-challenged) and generous width in most fairways. For now, Wickenburg Ranch is open to the public but, as the homes and membership roster fill up, the Troon-managed club will go totally private. Approximately 400 homes have been built to date and developers foresee a total of 3,000 when the property is fully developed.
Takeaway: The Big Wick experience is the focal point of Wickenburg Ranch but it’s augmented by other facilities, such as a large but tastefully rendered clubhouse, pro shop, restaurant and ballroom. This is not a subtle golf course where design aesthetics make you say, “Wow.” But the size of the place will. Add to that the Li’l Wick 9-hole course and the Watering Hole sports bar located in the middle of that course and you truly have a golf facility enjoyable for everyone.
Food – 8
Pro Shop – 8
Clubhouse – 9
Course Difficulty – 8
Pace of Play – 8
Best Par 3 – No. 13 – Distance isn’t the only challenge at this 246-yard (from the back/Black tees) par 3 known as “Big Water.” You guessed: there’s a huge lake that forces players from all five tees – as well as the drop area – to carry the water on their tee shots. The good news is the tee is elevated 100-feet, making for a majestic scenic and lots of help with the carry. Moreover, there’s a bailout area front left of the peninsula green, which is guarded by a bunker. A spectacular looking hole and a big challenge coming at the end of the round.
Best Par 5 – No. 14 – This massive three-shot 595-yarder appropriately known as “Yikes” strikes fear into the hearts of average golfers. With Vulture Peak looming in the background, the tee is elevated 40 feet to a flattish fairway. Water meanders down the left side of the fairway and transforms into a small lake to the left-front and rear of one of the larger greens on the property. The green is tiered in the back, but this hole is about length, length and more length.
Best Par 4 – No. 6 known as “Gutz” is a 343-yard drivable par 4 with a 35-foot uphill tee shot. Anyone with that kind of length won’t notice the lake in between the tee and the green. For mere mortals, the hole is designed as a manageable dogleg right whose second shot is uphill into one of the course’s smaller greens. Someone playing from the white tees would have a 230 carry to the green but there’s room in front should they not make it. A good one.
OVERALL RATING – 7.7