"A good course to seek out if in the area, worthy of a full day out"
The first time I played Ambiente my friend and I had stopped for really good pizza just north of the Boulders (which we had just played). The couple at the next table started chatting with us about golf (because I was still wearing my spikes). The husband was the starter at Ambiente and was telling us about the renovation, how good the golf course was and that they were charging $175 per round. We were intrigued and didn't have a round booked for the next day. When we got home we found a tee time for the next afternoon for $125. In the $100 - $150 range this golf course is great value and wins out over any other course in the same price range.
To start with location - it is just north of Camelback Mountain on the edge of Paradise Valley. As an UBER guy in PHX to golf (so I can have a couple of drinks afterwards) this is a big plus when you are staying inside the 101. It basically plays 10 holes - out and 8 holes - in on either side of the wash. While I hate playing golf "in the houses" the houses here are kind of in play, but not domineering and really frame the golf course fairly. And... the deeper you get into the golf course, the more you enjoy the houses. Some people have money and some people have taste...
The golf course - as a player with a pull-cut having white stakes on the left side and red stakes on the right side for most of the holes puts a premium finding a consistent swing off the tee. The fairways have a nice undulation and skew left-right. The bunkering is wicked - both fairway and greenside. I tend to play from 6,300 - 6,600 yards and the shortest par 3 is 160 yards. All of them are demanding tee shots and the green complexes will test you. Individually, each of these holes is fantastic. I have a soft spot for the 18th, but my favourite hole is the 10th. It is a short par 4 that doesn't demand any precision off the tee as you can push you tee shot way right and still have a 7 iron in, but standing on the tee you (I) can't help but challenge the left side. When it bites you it bites you. Regardless of where your tee shot finishes, your second shot demands that you find the right section of the green. From the wrong side I have seen multiple people 4 putt. Or maybe the same people 4 putt multiple times...I doubt others would tell you they are the highlights, but for my money hitting two tee shots as you envision them (and I think how the architect envisioned how you should hit them) and sticking two approach shots within 20 feet and two putting those two holes in particular is how we want to play golf.
As a testament to the golf course I have multiple times stood on the 14th tee and thought "5 holes, play them 3 over and we will be happy with the scorecard" They are all cool holes and I have never played them better than 5 over. Make hay early and play the last five as they present themselves and enjoy them. Don't hate yourself as you walk from the bar to the parking lot.
PHX is full of the $200+ rack rate golf and you can see all of those golf courses on Top 10 lists (and I have played them all). But there are definitively not 10 golf courses I would rather play in PHX than Ambiente.
Date: December 02, 2020