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We-Ko-Pa, Saguaro Course Review

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Course Review - We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, Saguaro

Opened in December 2001, We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, Saguaro is the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation’s stunning new golf course covering almost 500 acres of natural desert landscape. Featuring an authentic tribute to the local Yavapai tribe, We-Ko-Pa pays homage to the original dwellers of the land. Located on Native American land in Fountain Hills, the name We-Ko-Pa, means Four Peaks Mountain, which is inspired by the surrounding mountains appropriately called the Four Peaks that rise to an elevation of over 7,000 feet, and is located just thirty miles east of the course. The desert terrain is contrasted by the Verde River, which flows north to south through the reservation. Designed by noted golf course architect Scott Miller, it plays a challenging 7,225 yards from the back tees, but with well spaced multiple tee boxes the course caters to players of all calibers.

Scott Miller, a protégé of Jack Nicklaus, has struck gold with We-Ko-Pa, which is one of the truest tests of golf. The design and conditions of this course are as good as you will ever find and your score will reflect how well you play. In addition, there are no, and never will be any, houses, roads, or commercial developments on the golf course. This helps We-Ko-Pa to yield some of the most dramatic and natural views of the surrounding mountain ranges including: the Four Peaks, McDowell Mountains, Red Mountains and the Superstition Mountains. Another distinguishing factor of We-Ko-Pa is the ample amount of natural mesquite, palo verde, saguaros, shrubbery and desert vegetation that sprawl through its arroyos and canyons, creating a lush desert feel.

You will need every club in your bag because there is nothing missing on this golf course. Featuring an ideal blend of doglegs and straightaway holes, a mix of slender and ample fairways, two lakes, numerous elevation changes, large greens, and strategically placed bunkers, We-Ko-Pa will test you at every turn. With all of this, it is amazing that We-Ko-Pa is also one of the area's most player-friendly tracts while still offering variety, views, desert-styled golf and strategy. Miller was an artist by situating greens into natural draws or arroyos and box canyons, then framing them with sculpted bunkers, waste areas, centuries-old saguaros and rock outcroppings. He also masterfully used elevation changes to make the layout more fun and picturesque. The playability of the course is what golfers really love. Play aggressive: there is a reachable par 4 (15th hole), wide fairways and landing areas, generous patches of grass around the green, only 75 sand traps, and greens at 1, 2, 8, and 13 are not guarded by a single bunker. There isn’t a single out of bounds stake on the entire course. Hit well and you will go home very happy.

You complete your date with a fabulous finishing par 4. The 18th is 432 yards and presents a downhill risk-reward shot to a split fairway that is fronted by an arroyo forced carry and two huge traps. If you lay-up safely right off the tee, the approach shot will be long and must carry sand, water, and usually wind. If you are aggressive and go left you must rip it far and straight off the tee or you will be in trouble. The desert is on the left and water is on the right.

We-Ko-Pa is filled with signature holes and no two holes look alike. However, the signature hole, is the par 5, dogleg 8th hole. This 602 yard hole not only slithers down a hill like a snake, but it also yields some of the best views in the state. This hole takes 3 great shots and then you still have to deal with the long narrow undulating green. In front of the green, the landing area seems tiny with an arroyo waste area left and a pint-sized piece of fairway sloping down to the putting surface. If you lay-up back from this section of the fairway you are on a severe down-slope. A birdie on this hole is almost as rare as a hole in one.

After a round of golf at We-Ko-Pa everyone always comes home with a smile and if you bring your camera you will also come home with spectacular pictures.

Score Card - We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, Saguaro

Practice Facilities: Refine your game at one of the most magnificent practice facilities. Putt, chip, swing out of bunkers, and take a few rips at the beautiful driving range. Balls are included at the range.

19th Hole: Relax on the We-Ko-Pa patio enjoying your favorite cocktail and one awe-inspiring view. Could life get any better? Sure it could, feast on a scrumptious salad or delicious sandwich from the We-Ko-Pa Grill. The We-Ko-Pa Grill is the perfect location for breakfast, lunch or a cold beverage at sundown. Experience food with a view before or after each round.

Clubhouse: The spectacular 21,000 square foot full-service clubhouse was designed by the award-winning architect Douglas Fredrikson. Inspired by the Yavapai culture, the We-Ko-Pa clubhouse features a “desert vernacular” styling with unique detail contributions that draw inspiration from the natural environment. Sloped entry walls and a wood beam canopy create a canyon-like feel entryway, followed by a water and fire feature that is designed to symbolize the importance of woven baskets within the Yavapai culture. The clubhouse is replete with stylized detailing and yields spectacular views of the McDowell Mountains, Red Mountain, Four Peaks and the Superstitions. The state-of-the-art golf shop offers the latest fashion merchandise.

Selected by Sports Illustrated as one of the Top 10 new public golf courses in the world - December 10, 2001.
Chosen as the national winner of Golf Inc. magazine's 2002 Development of the Year in the stand-alone course category.
Received the Gold Nugget Grand Award for Best Public/Private Recreational Facility - Pacific Coast Builders Conference and Builders
Magazine, 2002 Premier Building Show.

The Players:

  • Designer: Scott Miller

  • Golf Pro: Brian Jones

Grass type: Fairways: Rye grass. Greens: Pola Trivialis.

Recommended handicap: Every level golfer can enjoy their experience at We Ko Pa. From the back tees it is challenging but the multiple tee boxes are well spaced to cater to all caliber golfers. Generous landing areas and very few carries allows players of all levels to really enjoy the golf experience at We-Ko-Pa.

1 -10 Course Rating by Meridian’s Golf Specialists: 9 ½

Comments by Meridian Guests:

  • “The best course I have ever played.” “Every hole looks different and every hole plays different and every hole requires a different strategy.” “The fairest test of golf I have ever experienced. If you hit the perfect shot you are rewarded, if you just miss you are slightly penalized, if you hit an errant shot you are severely penalized.”

  • “So peaceful.” “The conditions were simply amazing from the tee boxes to the fairways to the traps to the rough to the immaculate greens.” “Scott Miller really out did himself with this layout.”

The Drive: A beautiful 25 to 30 minute drive through beautiful Fountain Hills. The course is on an Indian Reservation owned by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club

18200 E. Toh Vee Cir.
Ft. McDowell, AZ 85264

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