The main round for Friday was at The Boulders Golf Club in Carefree, AZ. We were there representing greenskeeper.org and they were very generous to offer us a $30 rate for two tee times starting at 10:00. We ended up only having five players, which was surprising considering this was such a great deal. Tee times at The Boulders do not come cheap, even in the summer season (at least not in relation to some other deals that can be found around here).
The North Course was not too busy by this time of day. The South Course had a big tournament going on and I believe they generally keep only one of the courses open to the public on any given day. It’s basically considered a semi-private club, so I think they like to reserve one course or at least certain tee times for members only.
The staff was super nice and got us going on time and we had to split up as a twosome and threesome. However, it wasn’t crowded, so we did join up and play as a fivesome for a number of holes along the way just to have a little more fun with our full group.
In previous articles, I mentioned how some nasty storms hit the area on Thursday night. It’s really interesting how these microburst storms will pop up and hit very small areas really hard. The Boulders happened to get pretty bad while the other nearby course I played later (Legend Trail) didn’t seem like it was even touched by any significant wind or rain. Some clear damage was done to the bunkers and there was plenty of debris all around. To The Boulders’ credit, however, an army of workers was out on the course getting things cleaned up as we played.
Both courses at The Boulders were designed by Jay Morrish and are widely considered to be among the best in the valley, though the South Course generally gets a bit more acclaim between the two. Either way, I was really looking forward to the North Course.
This is a very nice layout and a beautiful setting, though I’ll admit the design wasn’t quite as “dramatic” as I was expecting given the location up into the foothills. There really aren’t any significant changes in elevation on the North Course or many holes that gave me a real “wow” factor. It was really nice all around and offered ample challenge, but I wasn’t as blown away as I hoped I’d be.
They definitely use the desert landscape well throughout the course. There are a ton of rugged desert areas in play, and a lot of jumping cholla plants waiting to attack. After a painful run-in with one of these bastards at Gold Canyon last month, I wasn’t about to set foot near one of them again. Of course as the name would suggest, there are also some nice boulder outcroppings and boulder-covered hills in the background with some really stunning homes perched atop.
Though there are plenty of good holes here, I am not sure which I would consider as the “signature” hole. A lot of them kind of blend together in my memory. There were no boring sections, but also no spots where I was completely captivated. If you are not getting my drift yet, I really liked the North Course at The Boulders, but I did not love it as much as I wanted to. Just want to make sure I hammer that home a bit more!
Beyond the obvious storm damage that affected the bunkers more than anything else, the late summer conditions were also a bit less than expected. The tee boxes were very nice. The fairways had some weak spots throughout and there were some little crabgrass patches popping up here and there, but I generally had decent enough lies. The rough was pretty lush, though not very penal as the ball would sit up nicely.
The greens were in good shape. They rolled smooth on putts at medium/slow-ish speeds. The tricky thing with the greens on Friday was the inconsistency in firmness, which I am sure was impacted by the heavy rains the night before. It was a guessing game when hitting approaches and pitches/chips. Some spots were super soft while others were very firm, so you’d get a lot of different reactions on shots.
I’d love to come back and play the North Course at The Boulders again in peak season. It might give me a little different impression to see it presented in its best possible light, though you’ll see it still looks pretty good in pictures. Then again, their in-season pricing is extremely high. For the low price we played last week, it was certainly worth it. No matter what, I definitely still want to go play the South Course because I do think it will offer a little more of the drama I was hoping for from the North.
Some pictures from The Boulders Golf Club (North Course) (8/24/18):
(Click on any picture below to pull up a gallery slideshow.)