Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf have made their mark on the Arizona golf community, whether it’s the perennially-ranked Forest Highlands or their series of resort courses throughout the Scottsdale area. Morrish was more than capable of working sans Weiskopf, however, as evidenced by the Boulders courses in Carefree, AZ.
The North course at the semiprivate club offers numerous opportunities to consider its namesake. On the ninth tee, players can look behind them and marvel at the massive dome of rock embedded in the desert landscape. They will have just completed a more hands-on approach to geology on the previous hole, however. The short par four at No. 8 features several hazards to discourage bombers, including a long turf trench as well as a pile of boulders set in the center of the fairway to deflect shots that can’t make it over on the fly.
More curious is the par three at No. 17, where a front-right bunker features a large stone right in its center. We highly advise that if you miss the green short, miss it long-short and not short-short, unless you want a boulder blocking your sand wedge.
The Boulders is a marvelous facility that truly showcases the magnificence of the Arizona desert with a plethora of amenities at the resort including 36-holes of golf. The North is a quality layout, however, given the sheer number of other courses that have entered the Scottsdale scene in the last 20-25 years the course is now more of bystander than headliner.
There's sufficient challenge but actual architecture is about providing immediate entertainment rather than lasting memorability.
Having quality turf presentation really provides an eye-opening contrasts with the desert area that engulfs the property.
The nines have flipped over the years. When I originally played the North the 10th served as the opener and wow did that hole grab your attention with a fairway that necked down considerably the further you attempted to drive the ball. In flipping the nines the course provides a more gentle sequence of holes. In fact, the outward nine today is akin to wading into a swimming pool from the shallow end.
When you finally reach the 10th the nature of the challenge goes up considerably. The inward nine is the better of the two sides without question.
The ambiance of The Boulders still resonates today as a comprehensive resort. Golf is still on the menu but it's not the primary headliner.
M. James Ward