Two championship courses, the North and the South designed by Jay Morrish in the mid-1980s, are the foundation of the Boulders Golf Club. 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 outstanding. One of a handful of public access courses in Arizona with bentgrass 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 is one of only two Golf Magazine Gold Medal resorts in the Scottsdale area.
The thirty-six holes were built nine-holes at a time. Jay Morrish completed both the third nine (1984) and the final nine (1992). The Boulders is 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.
The North Course opened with the original lounge/restaurant in January 1984. It lacks the stunning scenery of the South. There are few difficult forced carries (from the correct tees), the fairways are generous. But the green-side bunkering is extensive, and the longer back nine has a bite. Although this course is more playable than the South Course, it remains a significant challenge. If the North Course is your first experience at the Boulders, it will impress you.
When you see on the card that the North Course opens with a Par5, you think that’s a great way to start, and perhaps an early birdie is in the cards. When you arrive at the first tee and see the forced carry and accuracy required, you realize you’ll be thrilled with a par. This course often requires careful placement of the tee shot in the fairway for the best approach. On the fifth hole, a well-placed tree guards the entire left side of the green requiring a towering high approach. On the eighth hole, a rock outcropping guards the left side of the fairway. On the long Par4 eleventh hole, an accurate tee shot will launch between two steep cacti. Water only comes into play on two holes on the North Course. The Par3 Hole #14 is over water from the rear tee and just a tiny fairway slice on other teeing grounds.
The Boulders Golf Club is a tranquil and exhilarating experience at the same time. The North Course is more playable than the South Course. The South course is more scenic and challenging. It’s not inexpensive. It’s a Troon managed course, so Troon Prive and Troon Advantage members get great discounts.