The last time I was in Scottsdale was back in the ‘90s and no, Jeff Wallach, it wasn’t the 1890s and I didn’t arrive by stagecoach. Our foursome–my wife and I and another golf-minded couple from Michigan seeking a winter respite–played The Boulders and we were overwhelmed with the beauty of the golf course and the Sonoran setting. The 12-million-year-old granite boulder formations on the property were so imposing and unreal that we joked they were actually engineered and molded by the Walt Disney Co. for its new theme park: The Boulders, Rocks of Ages. Sorry, old material.
Well, almost twenty years later, I’m still impressed with The Boulders and like fine wine (may I suggest a Pinot Noir?) it has only improved with time. And thankfully on this memorable visit, I didn’t back into a cactus. Ouch! Instead, the only Sharpie I encountered was the pen with which I marked my Callaway Tour golf ball. (See earlier story about hitting the wrong balls.)
There are two exquisite courses at The Boulders, the North and the South, both designed by the respected and oft-honored Jay Morrish. But unlike the events triggered at Fort Sumter, you can’t go wrong lending your allegiance to either side.
On our first day at The Boulders, the Golf Road Warriors played the North and the conditions were excellent and sported a lush green coat after the over-seeding with rye grass had blossomed. In spite of the greens being lightly top-dressed (a requisite for maintaining fast and true surfaces), our putts still rolled well. Having never played the North, I was particularly smitten by its visual charm and inspiring backdrops. On the front, the fifth hole was a personal favorite as this gentle dogleg par-four, marked by deft bunkering, pointed one’s eyes toward a towering Black Mountain against the huge Arizona sky. Wow!
On the back side, my preferred hole was the reachable par-five 15th. The reasons are two-fold. One, after a stout drive I was able to place my well-struck three-metal shot to the front apron of the green setting up a Bubba-like two-putt birdie. So what’s not to like?
Second, this is the hole where Wallach provided unintentional comic relief. He was watching Jeff Ritter, the sweet-swinging golf professional and astute instructor trying to extricate himself after a rare miscue. Ritter’s second shot had fallen short and right of the green and his ball was ensnarled by desert cacti. As the young pro gingerly approached his prickly trouble shot and aimed toward the flagstick, a concerned Wallach shouted out, “Now be careful over there, Jeff.” Backing up as he said it, Wallach failed to see a bunker and promptly fell in. Fortunately, our esteemed Road Warrior captain wasn’t injured and we all got a kick out of his pratfall worthy of Charlie Chaplin.
Gee, I wonder if the Scottsdale CVB will tack up this job posting:
Wanted: Two golf writers who highly recommend The Boulders. Must be experienced at backing into cacti and bunkers. Inquire within…carefully.