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Golf Club of Estrella Course Review

Estrella Mountain Golf Course Scottsdale Arizona Estrella Mountain Golf Course Scottsdale Arizona Estrella Mountain Golf Course Scottsdale Arizona

Course Review - Golf Club of Estrella

As Jack Nicklaus II's inaugural Arizona course, Golf Club of Estrella offers a classic golf experience. Following in his father's legendary footsteps, Jack II's championship course is golf in the traditional sense -- challenging yet forgiving, and always spectacular. Fairways roll across the natural contours of the land, while elevated tees unveil views of the Sierra Golf Club of Estrella. Jack Nicklaus II learned golf design from the best -- his father, yet over time he has carved out his own niche and reputation. In keeping with the philosophy of Nicklaus Design, the course blends in with its environs and incorporates natural desert vegetation. The diverse terrain of this 7,139-yard course complies with Jack II's goal of offering variety. "I want people to step away from my course having used every club in their bag," he says.

Young Jack apparently has learned more from the Golden Bear than how to handle a sand wedge. The design shows imagination in its twisting and turning fairways and desert washes. The desert and rough on most holes merge in an almost seamless wave, making it difficult to tell which is intruding on the other. Combine that with the multitude of sand traps laid out on the course, brings an element of luck to the average drive. However, Nicklaus II also added wide landing areas and large, rolling greens to his creation to make the course playable for golfers of all levels. The low-cut rough makes the course even friendlier. Golf Club of Estrella has it all; and, it is a course as remarkable as its heritage.

This is a mountain-rimmed desert course with a wonderful naturalistic harmony. Blue skies, brown-bouldered mountains, and families of green Saguaro cacti drape their charm around the desert serenity. Golf Club of Estrella was opened in 1999. The course is characterized by very generous landing areas, ample bunkers (about 85) and two lakes on the 5th and 6th holes. Wind is always a factor. This course, sculpted out of 220 acres of arroyo, gulch and mountain terrain, offers solid golf.

One of the stand-out holes is the lovely, 386 yard, par 4, 5th, given the sobriquet “Oasis”. From the tee, observe Saguaro cacti marching up the left side of the fairway and mesquite trees on the right. The landing area has two deep bunkers on the right. Your second shot must fly over a rock-bulkhead lake (with a soothing waterfall to its left) fronting a green 36 yards across with a front slope. To the rear is a foothill with three deep bunkers carved out. The green is flat.

Another fabulous hole is the 9th hole called “The Island”. Normally, a hole called “The Island” brings to mind a floating green and swiftly sinking golf balls. But this hole is in the middle of the desert and the only water in sight is the cup-holder in your golf cart. The “island” is really a circle of short grass about 10 feet in diameter cut into the desert, complete with boulder and cacti and flanked by a bunker. Together, they bisect the fairway of this 435 yard par 4. The risk to reward layout of this 9th hole gives golfers a choice on the tee box. Assuming you can clear the 100 yards of desert off the tee and avoid rattlesnake country to the right, you may either aim for the wider flatter right side of the fairway and leave yourself an imposing approach shot up a slight grade, over a desert wash, and a green-side bunker and onto a shallow putting surface; or, you can carve your way through the narrow left side of the fairway, which should open up more of the green and cut down on the distance and steepness of your approach. Either way, reaching this green with just two shots is an accomplishment worthy of a snack at the turn.

The real fun is the ride home, the finishing 3 holes. The 16th, named Arroyo, is a monster 605 yard par 5 (#1 handicapped hole) requiring an uphill tee shot over the desert to a wide landing area flanked by those ubiquitous Saguaros. Mountains edge the rim of the green (putts break away), and a tabletop surface is perched above an intersecting gully and fronted by 30 yards of deep sand. Intriguing! As if you haven’t seen enough, get ready for the dramatic sensory effect of the 194 yard, 17th signature hole. (See signature hole below).

The 437 yard, 18th aptly named “Evening Star” lets you wind up in style. From a gloriously elevated, gumdrop tee box, you play into the distant mountain range with the desert sprawling off to your right. It is an excellent finish to a great round of desert golf.

Signature Hole : The Golden Bear won 18 major tournaments and Nicklaus II tried to create 18 signature holes at The Golf Club of Estrella. The signature hole regarded by many is the picturesque 17th hole, a 189 yard par 3 named “Grand Consequence”. It is set majestically into the rocky terrain and can be one of the few solid birdie opportunities of the course. Launch your mid or long iron over the variegated desert terrain to a hilltop green carved out of a right side mountain sloping downhill, with two hillside bunkers on the left, your astute vision reminds you not to be short or you’ll roll downhill quickly into another bunker or even worse land in the fronting wash. A mountain range staggers across the back horizon. The green angles 51 yards across and is 18 yards deep at its midpoint.

Score Card - Golf Club of Estrella

Other Information - Golf Club of Estrella

Practice Facilities: There is a beautiful fully equipped practice facility including a driving range, putting & chipping greens, and sand bunkers.

19th Hole: Indoor service available at the clubhouse, and food and beverage carts on the course.

Clubhouse: The clubhouse includes a golf shop, dining room, offices and public restrooms. A friendly and professional staff makes the Golf Club of Estrella the perfect place to relax before and after a round. Warm wood accents and deep, rich interiors make the Clubhouse a comfortable gathering spot for golfers and non-golfers alike - for luncheons, programs or just for a drink with friends. The Golf Shop offers Golf Club of Estrella logo wear, and the latest in equipment, apparel and gifts for golf enthusiasts.

Top 10 Golf Course in Arizona, Golf Magazine 2002
Top 10 Golf Course in Arizona, Golf & Travel 2001

Tournaments: May 2002 hosted a US Open qualifier

The Players:

  • Designer: Jack Nicklaus II
  • General Manager: Laura Scrivner
  • Head Pro: Jim Lawrence
  • Superintendent: Mick Twito

Grass type:Summer – Bermuda. Winter -: Greens: Creeping Bent Grass & Fairways: Rye

Recommended handicap: Players of all abilities will be challenged, with every hole offering multiple tees to accommodate junior through championship levels. The course is designed to accommodate golfers with varying abilities by offering several tee placements to match skill with distance. Playing 7139 yards from the black tees, Estrella’s length is actually unforgiving. The copper tees are still over 6700 yards and still requires several long carries over the desert. Novices will appreciate the fact that the forward tees boxes eliminate the difficult carries over the desert and wash, while still providing a challenge in the course’s difficulty and length.

1 -10 Course Rating by Meridian’s Golf Specialists: 8 ½

Comments by Meridian Guests:

  • “Well worth the drive. It was a fabulous desert golf experience.” “Jack should be very proud of his son, he designed a desert course that allows the golfer to use his driver and every other club for that matter.”
  • “I loved the secluded natural desert setting, unfortunately I found myself at the beach most of the day. There were so many sand traps.”
  • “I thought it was a real good balance between challenging and playability.”

The Drive: Golf Club of Estrella is in the west valley and it is at least a 45 minute drive from Meridian CondoResorts and at least a 30 minute drive from Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix.

Estrella Mountain Golf Club

11800 Golf Club Dr.
Goodyear, AZ 85338

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