The Boulders is one of the finest golf resorts in the Western US with two championship courses, the North and the South designed by Jay Moorish in the mid-1980s. Built in the foothills of the Sonoran desert covering 1300 acres, both courses feature scenic views of the Black Mountains, natural desert terrain peppered with native saguaro cacti and rock formations. Large mildly undulating and consistently well-conditioned greens are the norm here. One of a handful of public access courses in Arizona with bent grass greens, the courses alternate between member access and public access daily.
Wildlife is abundant. You may be sharing your round with coyote, bobcats, quail, ducks, owls, roadrunners, and a resort favorite – the pig-like javelina. The Boulders Resort itself is a high-quality Hilton property with separate rustic casitas hosting wood-burning fireplaces, a 33,000 square foot spa and a variety of desert adventure activities. It’s worth staying on-property. A multi-million renovation was completed in 2016. It is one of only two Gold Medal resorts in the Scottsdale area, as rated by GOLF Magazine.
The thirty-six holes were built nine-holes at a time. Jay Morris completed both the third nine (1984) and the final nine (1992). He worked with Robert Trent Jones, Nicklaus and Weiskopf before striking out on his own. The Boulders was his first solo design. “The Boulders afforded me the chance to create a sort of desert Pine Valley with a lot of forced carries for the good players,” Morrish said. Although desert carries are frequent, five sets of tees ensure that they can be reasonable if you select the correct tees for your skill level. Otherwise, it won’t be much fun.
The Boulders South Course
The South course is the newer course. Completed in 1991, it is more difficult than the North course. If you have time for only one course, play the South. The scenery is so good that production companies often film TV commercials on the South course. Some holes go into the boulder formations. Bring your camera. Precision shot making is needed else you’re amongst the cactus. The South is the championship course at the Boulders with several forced carries. The North course is more playable.
Players understand quickly why the course is called The Boulders. A 35-foot high pile of boulders frames the first green.
The Par5 Hole #5 teeing ground delivers one of the more fabulous views on the course. An enormous rock formation behind the green called the “Boulder Pile” inspires the resort’s name.
The fifth green is near multiple rock formations.
A steep drive up to the elevated sixth tee reveals a dramatic view. The shot flies over a road between the main lodge and the casitas. A boulder formation curls directly around the teeing ground.
Spectacular views and formation abound on Hole #6. Huge boulder formations surround casitas just off the fairway. One of the few water hazards on the course is reachable from the sixth tee.
The greens are large and only gently sloped.
A spectacular medium length Par3 awaits you on Hole #7. Another massive boulder formation down the entire right side.
The twelfth hole is a driveable Par4 that is protected by little else than a small tree near the front left of the green. Grip it and rip it.
The Boulders is a tranquil and exhilarating experience at the same time. The staff treats you well. The North Course is the most playable. The South course is more scenic and challenging. You will rave about either course. It’s not inexpensive, but it’s worth it. It’s a Troon managed course, so Troon Prive and Troon Advantage members get great discounts.