Featuring dramatic elevation changes and rolling fairways, the Ambiente course at the Camelback Inn Resort & Spa supercedes the original Indian Bend course which Arthur Jack Snyder added to the resort in the late 1970s.
Architect Jason Straka prepared a case study for the Ambiente project, an extract of which appears here:
“The existing course was failing to attract clients due to its lack of visual appeal and strategic quality. Additionally, with its 200 acres of maintained and irrigated turf and non-native trees, it lacked environmental sensitivity to the climate in which it is located and was costly to maintain. The tees and greens were too small and of too poor construction to permit good drainage and maintenance. In addition to all of these issues, the golf course was located in an urban desert ‘wash’, which is essentially a desert floodway. The golf course was so flat that even though it is in the desert, it was unplayable for days after it flooded.
Though remaining in the same development corridor, the course required dramatic changes in routing, contour and vegetation to reduce maintenance costs, flooding effects and safety issues. The wash was lowered two to twelve feet in elevation and the fill material was utilized to raise the new golf holes. All told, 365,000 cubic yards of material were removed from the main wash running through the center of the golf course and then used to raise the playing surfaces.
The effect is dramatic in that there is now more elevation change in one golf hole than was over a span of six or more previously. While ten to twelve foot elevation changes in one hole may not sound like much at first, it is significant when considering the original holes only had maybe two feet to begin with. Further, the raised playing surfaces, with the addition of eight bridges, now means high and dry golf features are able to stay open even during moderate flood events.
In contrast to the preceding course, the remodeled Ambiente only has 90 acres of maintained turfgrass. The remaining 110 acres have been replanted into a native mix of desert riparian plants, upland desert trees, shrubs and grasses, and a palette of native winter and summer desert wildflowers intended to add visual interest and animal habitat.
While the addition of surface contouring and native vegetation has reduced maintenance costs and added visual interest, other new technologies have enhanced the course as well. State of the art irrigation, drought resistant green construction, miles of underground HDPE drainage pipe (and) drought and pest resistant turfgrass have allowed for greatly improved maintenance and wonderful environmental benefits.”
In November 2013, the re-imagined, Ambiente course opened after Straka’s $10 million renovation, where the only constraint was the old fashioned out-and-back routing running along either side of the Indian Bend Wash.