The Estancia Club is set on a high desert plateau, underneath the northern slope of Pinnacle Peak – Scottsdale’s most famous landmark – where spectacular city views to the south and west are on offer. Tom Fazio designed this desert course and it opened for play in 1996 among the huge boulder outcrops and the saguaro cacti.
The challenging Estancia Club course occupies around 150 acres of a 640-acre parcel of desert that forms the prestigious gated golf development. Holes on the front nine rim the base of the mighty granite monument before the 10th climbs to higher ground where golfers enjoy several changes in elevation on their way back to the clubhouse.
The quartet of par three holes at Estancia is nothing short of sublime, requiring pinpoint accuracy from the tee to prevent a silly score being run up. The 3rd, 7th and 16th holes all feature greens surrounded by dense desert vegetation whilst the 137-yard 11th plays slightly uphill to a putting surface ringed by enormous boulders.
This is a stunning Fazio design that rates among the best Fazio courses I have played. By chance my wife and I met a member last year in California and he invited us to play on our recent trip to Arizona. What we found was an amazing layout that was in beautiful condition. The course is located in North Scottsdale adjacent to Pinnacle Peak, a local landmark. The course has beautiful flow with each hole flowing uphill or downhill and in all conceivable directions. The bent grass greens were rolling 11.5 to 12 and caused me quite a bit of problems during the round. The routing flows beautifully up and around Pinnacle Peak. A number of the tee boxes are set in the rocks and several of the views from the tee's are outstanding. The whole visual feel of the course is rather stunning, and the strategic quality of the holes matches the beauty.
There are multiple teeing areas and if the correct length is chosen I think the course is very demanding but playable. I'm 60 years old and a 2.5 handicap and the 6700 yard Blue tees were more than enough for me. My wife was able to negotiate the 5000 yard red tees without a problem, and there was even another forward set of tees that could be used as well. The course opens with a nice downhill left par 4 that played 410 yards for me. A deep bunker protects the front of the green and the slopes and contours of the green provided another challenge as well. The uphill dogleg 6th was a real challenge even at 355 yards. 7 is a magnificent par 3. The tee boxes are set on the slope of the mountain hitting down to a tiered and banked green that demanded a very precise iron shot. 11 was a short 133 yard par three with the green set among the boulders. The massive green allowed for any number of pin placements 18 was a great finish hitting from an elevated tee down into a valley leaving an uphill second to a fiendishly sloped green that would be at home on any Doak or Coore/Crenshaw course. Probably the only flaw with this course but be the lack of variability in the par 3's. Except for the 11th the other three short holes all played between 170-180 yards. This was a great day on a great golf course. Golf Digest has this course in their USA top 100 and I think the course deserves consideration for that lofty of a rating. I'm hoping that I am able to return to Scottsdale in the future and get a return game with my newfound friend!