Differentiation is key when it comes to creating properties with 36 holes or more. Some owners can afford to bring in multiple designers for unique spins on the property, or singular architects can take aggressively different approaches to the same problem. Some, such as The Boulders Club, are blessed with landforms that are able to set courses apart on their own.
The entire property is dotted with the title rocks, however the southern part of the property includes such distinct formations that their appeal alone can sell the course. Players will partake in a geological museum of sorts while they traverse the Jay Morrish-designed South course at Boulders.
Among the highlights are at the par three No. 7, where players will tee off next to the famous “Rosie’s Rock,” an enormous boulder that sits comfortably enough on top of a smaller stone altar. Perhaps even more impressive is the approach into the green at the par five No. 5, where the massive “Boulder Pile” rock formation rises as a backdrop for the putting surface. Bring a camera, both for Mother Nature and Morrish architecture.
I really liked The Boulders South. In hindsight, I would have to categorize it as an eye candy course, but what is wrong with eye candy? Be prepared for your senses to be overwhelmed. One drawback is the number of homes scattered about. Regardless, I think it is very under-rated.
The first hole leans right and the fairway has a girdle squeezing it about 120 yards out. Favor the left side off the tee as the hole contours right. Two greenside bunkers left and one rear in front of what appear to be stacked boulders. The 2nd is the shortest hole yet it is rated the 13th toughest. Desert carry toa green with three bunkers front and one back. The 3rd is a dogleg right and my favorite hole. The conservative play is to aim for the right side of the straightaway fairway bunker. The aggressive play is over the right fairway bunker. If successful, you will have a wedge into the green. Yes, I birdied. The 4th is the number one handicap hole, not really sure why. Everyone in our group parred it except me, which I chalked up to a PBFU. Uphill, favor the right side off the tee, there is a small water hazard on the left. The 5th is an awesome par five. A split fairway, where middle will find you in a wash. Right is safer and big hitters will have a chance to get home in two from the left. The green is in front of a rock dome that is as impressive as the hole. The 6th is an excellent birdie oppty, the shortest par four on the front from an elevated tee. The hole bends right and there is a water hazard on the right side, thus favor the left off the tee to set up an attack iron. The 7th is a cool par three with boulders that seem to be defying gravity behind you. Mid-length and downhill with a green protected by bunkers and the large right bunker has a cactus in the middle of it. The long par four 8th is a tough hole. Favor the right side off the tee, even though there is OB right. A wash cuts in front of the green about 60 yards out and there are two bunkers behind the green. The 9th requires precision off the tee. Fairway bunker right about 150 out and the left fairway bunker is about 125 out. If you find the fairway, it is greenlight.
The back starts with a long downhill par three surrounded by 6 bunkers. Alas, I went bunker to bunker. The 11th is a 600 yard par five with well positioned bunkers. Play it as a 3 shotter. It should not be rated the 2nd hardest hole on the course, heck, even I parred it. The 12th is a driveable par four, but not by me. The left has a couple of fairway bunkers and an annoying tree. The desert sneaks in on the right, but if you are going to go for it this is the side to come in from. Favor the right side on the long par four 13th. There is a large fairway bunker left. There is a wash running across the fairway about 70 yards out and the green has a modest false front with bunkers left and right. The par five 14th can be reached in two, favor the right side off the tee. However, the hole is protected by sequential bunkers on both the right and left sides. The last par three is short and uphill. There is a pot bunker front left center and three more behind the kidney shaped green. The 16th is the longest par three with a large bunker left. If you are going to miss, be short. The 17th is the longest par four and whatever you do, stay left of the right fairway bunker. It ended poorly for me. The approach is over waste area and there is a bunker long left and a sharp dropoff right. The 18th is a fun finishing hole unless you duck hook your drive into the fairway bunker left. Big hitters may be tempted to go for it, God bless them. There is a large fairway bunker right and water hazard. The long narrow green has a bunker front center, back left and right.
I heartily recommend Boulders South and I would pay to play it again.
Desert playability is front and center here. The architecture is not uniquely special but a matter-of-fact presentation.
One of the issues is the amount of housing that engulfs a good portion of the course. The desert experience is simply tempered because of this intrusion.
Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf created a number of quality layouts during their partnership. Boulders South starts off well with a challenging par-4 that features a very tapered fairway the longer the tee ball is played. The rest of the
course is a pleasant experience but the kind of design details that could elevate the experience are just toned down.
Guests coming to the Boulders want golf without the harshness and the architectural duo have seen fit to comply on that score.
Given the site -- the architects did a fine job in squeezing 18-hole although the back-to-back par-3 holes at 15 and 16 are simply pushed together in a forced manner. Fortunately, the ending two holes are far better with the par-4 17th featuring a fairway cutoff by the desert to a well crafted putting green. The 18th, a par-5 of 514 yards, has the obligatory pond next to the green and gives players one last shot at glory with a closing birdie.
The raison d'être for the Boulders is much more than the 36-holes provided. The resort is truly a place to enjoy the full dimensions it provides. Golf is on the menu but it's not the singular reason why people head there.
M. James Ward