The “Other” Wickenburg Courses

I recently posted my reviews of the Wickenburg Ranch courses (Big Wick/Li’l Wick). That’s the new golf mecca in town. However, there are two older courses also located in Wickenburg. I had the opportunity to play them both on Saturday afternoon during a productive 63-hole day…

Los Caballeros Golf Club • Wickenburg, AZ • 5/6/17

I had a noon tee time that I booked as a hot deal through GolfNow. It was only $21 (plus tax and booking fee), which is about the lowest rate I’ve seen on Los Caballeros since I started scouting this trip in recent weeks.

The course wasn’t crowded at all on a very windy day. I was paired with a nice local couple and we teed off a little after noon. We eventually caught up to a slower twosome on the back, but never had to wait much and finished in about 3 hours, 20 minutes.

I’ve heard pretty good things about Los Caballeros as the second-best option in town after Wickenburg Ranch opened up in 2015. It is a very different course, though. Los Caballeros has a more rustic local feel compared to the more resort/high-end residential community feel of WR. That said, there are some pretty sweet “old Wickenburg money” homes/ranches surrounding this course.

Los Caballeros was designed by Greg Nash and Jeff Hardin. It opened in 1979 and is connected with the Rancho de los Caballeros resort.

I would describe the hole designs at Los Caballeros as a “slow build.” It starts off kind of boring, but gets a little more and more interesting as the round goes on. There are some memorable holes on the front nine, including both par-5s (holes 5 and 7). Then, the back nine gets more scenic as you get some nice Sonoran Desert views.

After being blown away by Wickenburg Ranch, Los Caballeros was definitely underwhelming. Still, on its own, the course kind of grew on me as the round went on. And for the price I paid, it was well worth it. At times, this course isn’t that much cheaper than Wickenburg Ranch, so your enjoyment may depend a little on how much you end up paying. Honestly, it should be a $40 and under course this time of year, not a $65 and up course. Those numbers may go up when in peak season.

The course was in decent overall shape. It was definitely starting to dry out and get ready for a summer transition, but the playability was still pretty nice overall. The tee boxes were good. The fairways provided ample roll-out and good lies to hit from. The rough was maybe more inconsistent, but never too much of a challenge. I will emphatically say that the bunkers here had much better sand than Wickenburg Ranch (not nearly as coarse). However, the greens were on the inconsistent side. Most of them were quite nice and all were as well maintained as they could be, but a handful were dealing with multiple grasses growing in (a poa invasion I think). They were very speckled in appearance and the overall surfaces on approaches and putts reacted differently than the normal greens.

Whereas Wickenburg Ranch is a “must-play” if going through Wickenburg, Los Caballeros is a “worth playing if you have time” kind of course. It’s good if you are spending any time in the area and want to mix things up for an additional local round. Otherwise, if you can only pick one, still stick with Wickenburg Ranch unless budget is a major concern.

Some pictures from Los Caballeros Golf Club (5/6/17):

Then, you have the other, other course in town…

Wickenburg Country Club • Wickenburg, AZ • 5/6/17

After finishing at Los Caballeros, I raced over to Wickenburg CC to complete the day of golf. When I arrived, the parking lot was almost empty. Thankfully, I saw two guys getting their stuff put into a golf cart as if they were ready to play. So, I at least knew the course was open.

I checked in at the pro shop around 3:45 and the guy inside warned me that they usually close up around 5:00 this time of year because they don’t get enough play. However, he was planning to be there until 5:30 or so. He charged me $10 and said I could play as much as I wanted as long as I had the cart in by 5:30. In other words, I had the option to continue walking the course after 5:30 if desired/needed. Either way, I knew I’d finish and that was good enough for me.

That twosome was going off on hole 1 and I didn’t want to bother playing around/through them. I knew the rest of the course was basically empty, so I started on the back nine. I eventually caught those guys on hole 9 (my 18th). I finished my round and was returning my cart to the pro shop guy at 5:15. I raced around the course as fast as I could!

Wickenburg Country Club is the oldest course in town, dating back to its opening in 1949. It is considered a semi-private club, but public tee times seem readily available online. It was designed by William P. Bell and William F. Bell. I guess the course was shut down for some period of time and then reopened in 2006 after a major renovation project that turned it from a 9-hole course into a full 18-hole regulation layout.

The course still kind of has an “under construction” feel, mainly due to the all-dirt/gravel cart paths, a lack of signage and some confusing routing elements. The 5th hole is really way off on its own. It’s a lengthy cart drive to the tee box and then back to the 6th tee box.

This course gets little-to-no attention compared to Wickenburg Ranch or even Los Caballeros. It seems to be the forgotten course in town. It is also very inexpensive to play. With those factors in mind, I really had low expectations coming into the round. I was just there to check it off the list because I wouldn’t want to have to make a separate trip out to Wickenburg just to play it in the future.

However, I was actually very pleasantly surprised by this course. Don’t get me wrong, it is clearly in third place of the three full-size courses in Wickenburg. Still, it was better than expected on most levels.

For whatever reason, I was expecting the layout to be kind of basic and boring. It most definitely was not. This is a quirky course with a tricky target layout. It is tight, moderately hilly and full of awkward angles. It will test your patience and your golf skills.

Don’t let the short overall yardage fool you. At its longest, Wickenburg CC stretches out to 6,320 yards from the blue tees. Normally, I would have played those. However, I opted to play the whites (a big difference at only 5,562 yards. I was tired at the end of a long day, the wind was absolutely howling and I needed to finish quickly. I am glad I moved up because the blues probably would have kicked my butt.

Many of the blue tee boxes seemed crammed into odd areas and offered very uncomfortable sight lines. It struck me as an older course that was forcefully “stretched out” at some point to compete with longer modern courses. I mentioned this to the pro shop guy after the round and he seemed to think that the blue tees were always there. I am still guessing that at least some of them were added during the renovation last decade.

The course was in much better condition than expected for the price. The tee boxes were good. The fairways were pretty nice for the most part. The rough was more spotty with some bare areas blending into the desert. The greens were great. They were rolling quick and smooth. The bunkers here made I wish I was in the Wickenburg Ranch gravel, though. They were just hard-packed dirt/sand and not good at all.

Overall, I had an enjoyable, fast and cheap experience at Wickenburg CC. Unless you are determined to play everything like me, you will probably still pass on this course in favor of the other two in town. However, if you do play it, you just might find yourself having a lot of fun on a tricky little course. Some of the views aren’t too shabby either.

Some pictures from Wickenburg Country Club (5/6/17):

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