The Renegade course was the first Jack Nicklaus layout to open at the Desert Mountain Club in 1987. Since then, the Golden Bear has added a further five 18-hole courses at this location but the Renegade, at 7,443 yards, remains the longest.
Rather uniquely, the course was constructed with two greens on every hole, offering golfers the choice of playing to either the easier white flag or the more difficult gold flag position. Thirteen holes have a large putting surface with different areas for each pin placement and five holes are set out with separate greens.
In 2018, the course was renovated by Heritage Links, working to a Nicklaus Design masterplan. Turfed areas were sand capped, mounding removed and green complexes revised to improve course playability. Drainage, irrigation and cart path issues were also addressed during the upgrade.
Credit developer Lyle Anderson for an audacious vision in bringing to life the series of courses that comprise the Desert Mountain complex. Anderson was brilliant in getting Jack Nicklaus to be the sole designer of the several courses on the property and as much attention as the Golden Bear gets for his groundbreaking work at nearby Desert Highlands it is his work at Desert Mountain that also provided a major impetus for all the golf that would open in the years ahead in the immediate area.
The Renegade was the first of the six courses that have come into being at this fascinating facility.
The concept used by team Nicklaus at Renegade was quite innovative. Instead of providing just one pin location per hole -- Renegade has two different pin placements each day. There's also several different tee boxes one can play from. The pins are set-up to provide a more challenging location and one that is more accessible. The player can determine the different combination you wish to play. For those who want the maximum test you can opt for Gold Tee to Gold pin location. That translates to a yardage of 7,412 and a corresponding 75.2 course rating and 147 slope. Only the most gifted or those intent on a masochistic bent will opt for that supreme challenge. Played from the tips -- if you don't have game upon arriving you're sure as can be not going to find it when you tee off.
Giving a course such versatility allows for a wide array of different shots. In some cases -- players will alternate pin locations they wish to play so as to keep the game interesting and within their talent level.
Nicklaus also integrates the desert terrain in a stirring manner. There's enough room but never enough to encourage and reward the reckless play. The desert can be a totally unforgiving landscape and those seeking shortcuts will be tested to deliver accordingly.
Be sure to warm-up properly because the opening quartet of holes can quickly suck the air right out of your lungs. This is especially true of the brutal par-3 4th at 230 yards which features water hugging the right side of the green.
Interestingly, the course sports five par-5 holes and an equal number on the par-3 side. Often this hole type pattern can mean a few holes that lack real meaning to the overall experience. That's not the case here. The Renegade is a fine golf adventure because boring is simply not in the mixture.
by M. James Ward