If you read my review of Desert Hills Golf Course in Yuma, AZ, you saw that I mainly chose to take a day trip there to help pad my course count as I make my way toward 1,000 different courses played. Yuma was a good choice for this because nothing is too expensive and there were still quite a few courses I hadn’t played. After the full-length Desert Hills in the morning, it was a full-on “Short Course Blitz” after that.
I wanted to squeeze in as much as I could. I was planning to play three short courses. I would have been marginally satisfied with two, though I was really hoping I could get to four. I ended up fulfilling the original plan of three short courses. However, it wasn’t exactly the collection I was expecting.
Let’s get started with the blitz…
Desert Hills Par 3 Golf Course • Yuma, AZ • 2/1/18
Yes, Desert Hills has a par 3 course to go along with their main championship course. Well, kind of. This little course was once known as Arroyo Dunes and it is located about a block or so north of the other course, separated by a large public park and sports facility. It has its own tiny pro shop and driving range, along with an 18-hole par-3 course.
The holes range from 65 yards up to 180, so you’ll encounter a decent mix of lengths to make it more than a super-short “pitch and putt.” That said, a majority of the holes are 130 yards or less.
With the exception of a handful of “longer” holes, it plays very much like a basic pitch and putt course. There are no sand traps or water hazards (there is one pond, but it really doesn’t come into play much). The greens are small and somewhat domed in shape. All but two holes are dead flat and situated in a big open field. Hole 14 is a really short one that plays downhill in a corner of the property and then you shoot back up hill for the 120-yard 15th. That’s as interesting as it gets here.
The place looked pretty busy when I arrived and I saw a few groups lined up on the first hole. The guy inside the pro shop said it really wasn’t as busy as it looked, but he offered to let me start on the back nine to avoid that clog on the front nine. The price was $18 to walk the 18 holes. Starting on the back nine worked out beautifully. I did play through a few groups, but I really cruised through both sides of the course with little to slow me down. By the time I got back to the front nine, it was wide open. By the time I left, the whole course looked like a ghost town. It was hard to believe because it seemed so busy when I arrived.
The big Yuma water tower overlooked parts of the main Desert Hills course and it overlooks the short course, as well. It basically sits in the middle of that big park area in between. You’ll see it in several of the pictures here because it is just about the only thing in the background of this course that provides any sort of depth or perspective. Like I said, this place is basically a big open field with some greens peppered throughout.
90 percent of the course was dormant with similarly unexciting dirt/roots/dormant grass in between the tees and greens. The tee boxes were overseeded (barely), but were level enough to tee it up or play right off the turf if you prefer. The greens were shaggy and slow with a spotty overseed coverage of their own. Then, the greens had some green grass surrounding them. They were basically islands of somewhat green grass amongst a field of yellow and brown ugliness.
There isn’t much more to say about Desert Hills Par 3 Golf Course. It was purely another one to check off the list for me and at least the round went quickly, which is more than I can say about the rest of my day in Yuma.
Some pictures from Desert Hills Par 3 Golf Course (2/1/18):
(Click on any picture to pull up a gallery slideshow for better detail.)
From Desert Hills, my plan was to head across town and play both of the Foothills courses. One is a 9-hole executive and the other is a 9-hole par-3 course. They are also located close to one another, but have their own separate facilities.
I drove past the par-3 course first and saw that it was absolutely packed. Not what I was hoping for. So, I headed over to the executive course and it was even busier. I went inside and the lady said they were pretty well booked until at least 3:00. I should mention this is not the first time I’ve tried to stop by these two courses and have been turned away because it was way too crowded. These may be the two most popular courses in all of Yuma, especially in the prime winter season.
Yuma basically is the land of RV parks. I think there are more RVs and mobile homes per capita in this town than anywhere else in the world. Several of the RV parks have their own golf courses, but most don’t. However, just about every RV park has at least one golf league. The lady in the executive course’s pro shop showed me the tee sheet for the next couple months and it was astounding. Basically, I learned once and for all that you can’t expect to drop by either of these courses and walk on during the winter months. I’ll have to come back in the offseason and knock out the executive course.
Thankfully, I had plenty of backup options and one was reasonably close by. Speaking of RV parks with golf courses…
Fortuna De Oro RV Resort Golf Course • Yuma, AZ • 2/1/18
I actually wanted to stop by this place anyway because I wasn’t sure if there was still a golf course on site or not. The information online is either vague or totally lacking. I only knew of it because I saw what is labeled “Fortuna Del Rey Golf Course” when looking over the area on Google Maps.
The satellite picture shows that there may or may not be an active course. You can see the basic shape of it, but not much clear definition of greens or other features. There were some phone numbers attached to the restaurant there (also labeled Fortuna Del Rey). I could have called ahead, but it’s more fun to snoop around in person. I learned as I got there the RV park is actually named Fortuna De Oro. I assume they changed names at some point and it wasn’t well documented online.
When I got home, I did search for Fortuna De Oro and found a little more info about the golf course, but still not enough to prove its currently operational existence. The course itself is kind of hidden within the park and thankfully there is signage around to point you in the right direction. It’s located down a hill behind the restaurant.
It was also relatively busy at this course, but not nearly as crazy as either Foothills course. I checked in had no problem getting out right away. The price was $15 to walk nine holes as a non-park guest, and they paired me with a threesome of older dudes about to tee off. One of the guys was nice enough to offer a ride in his personal golf cart, so I took advantage of that. We never really pushed the groups ahead, but there wouldn’t have been any significant advantage for me to break out on my own because we were never more than a hole behind a big bunch of groups. I just relaxed and we played at a leisurely pace during the hottest part of the day.
Fortuna De Oro is a 9-hole regulation-length course that plays to a standard par of 36. There are two par-5s and two par-3s and the total length is a respectable 3,021 yards.
The course itself is kind of a quirky old layout with a lot of very boring parts and a few funky parts, as well. The funkiest of the bunch was the par-5 9th, which is 90-degree dogleg around a steep hillside. Some homes sit on top to prevent you from trying to cut off too much of the corner, so you basically just have to hit past the corner on your tee shot and then play straight in from there.
Conditions here were spotty to put it kindly. The tee boxes, fairways and rough were a hodge podge of semi-dormant grass-like surfaces and some other stuff mixed in. The greens were comparable to Desert Hills Par-3 with an inconsistent overseed. I joked with the guys in my group that you’d need to read braille in order to figure out these greens. The surfaces ran a little faster than they looked, but were so bumpy it was hard to take any putts too seriously.
Well, at least I now know for sure that this course does exist and I have checked it off my list. Time to move on.
Some pictures from Fortuna De Oro RV Resort Golf Course (2/1/18):
Next, I headed back down to Foothills to try my luck. My best hope was that the mid-day crowds had minimized and I might actually be able to squeeze in a quick late-afternoon round on both courses. Nope!
The executive course was still packed and they informed me that the current on-course pace for 9 holes (on an executive-length course, mind you) was 3.5 hours! I only had about 2.5 hours of sunlight left, so that was surely out of the question. I don’t think I could even suffer through that kind of pace on a 9-hole course even if there were 10 hours of sunlight left.
So I headed down the street…
Foothills Par 3 Golf Course • Yuma, AZ • 2/1/18
The shorter Foothills course was still kind of busy, but I could tell I would at least have time to finish before dark. The first tee was open when I arrived, so I was happy to see that. The price was $9 to walk nine holes.
I played the first few holes quickly and then caught up to the logjam of groups. I just slow-played after that and I finished in a little over an hour.
The Foothills Par 3 course is nine holes. They have two sets of tees. The longer set of tees (black) has holes that range from 75 yards up to 175. Most are in the 100-125 range, though. Still, it’s a pretty decent mix for a novice-level par-3 course.
I didn’t remember seeing any sand traps on the course and there is one hole (the 4th) with a water hazard you have to hit over. Beyond that, there’s not too much trouble to get into here.
Of the three short courses I played on this day, Foothills was by far the nicest on every level. Conditions were good and the scenery is great. The Foothills courses are situated at the far southwest edge of town. They are literally at the edge of civilization (if you want to consider Yuma civilization) with nothing but open desert right across the street. I believe if you started walking due south from Foothills, the next signs of humanity you’d find would be in Mexico.
There are some mountains to the east that also provide a great backdrop throughout this little course. I also mentioned the conditions, which were quite nice. It was very green here with good grass coverage throughout. The greens were similarly a little shaggy with the overseeded turf like some of the other courses I played, but the surfaces ran much nicer. My 11 total putts (including chip-ins on the first two holes) sure helped me feel good about the greens here.
There isn’t anything overly fancy about the layout of this course. The green complexes do have some character with moderately undulating surfaces. It’s a good course for beginners and seniors, so I can see why it’s one of the more popular options in town.
Some pictures from Foothills Par 3 Golf Course (2/1/18):