THE BOULDERS RESORT (NORTH AND SOUTH COURSES)
North Course Architect: Red Lawrence (1969), Jack Snyder (1974),
Jay Morrish (1985, with renovation work in 1999)
Year Opened: January, 1985
Location: Carefree, Arizona
Slope: 137. Rating: 72.6
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 5 513 Yds 10 - Par 4 451 Yds
2 - Par 3 195 Yds 11 - Par 4 445 Yds
3 - Par 5 548 Yds 12 - Par 5 525 Yds
4 - Par 4 404 Yds 13 - Par 4 457 Yds
5 - Par 4 425 Yds 14 - Par 3 183 Yds
6 - Par 3 142 Yds 15 - Par 5 483 Yds
7 - Par 4 347 Yds 16 - Par 4 424 Yds
8 - Par 4 356 Yds 17 - Par 3 220 Yds
9 - Par 4 417 Yds 18 - Par 4 424 Yds
Par 36 3,347 Yds Par 36 3,612 Yds
Awards Won: Rated four stars by Golf Digest's "Places to Play" (2000-06),
Named by Golf Magazine as a Gold Medal Resort (1998-2010),
Named by AAA as a Five Diamond Resort (1990-2004),
Named by Golf for Women as 50 Best Courses for Women (2002-03),
Ranked 13th by Golf Magazine in best State-by-State Access (2004),
Number 2 U.S. Golf Resort by Travel + Leisure Golf (2005).
Rated No. 10 by Golfweek - Top-20 courses in Arizona (2011).
South Course Architect: Jay Morrish (1983)
Year Opened: January, 1983
Location: Carefree, Arizona
Slope: 140. Rating: 71.9
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 421 Yds 10 - Par 3 221 Yds
2 - Par 3 150 Yds 11 - Par 5 601 Yds
3 - Par 4 413 Yds 12 - Par 4 321 Yds
4 - Par 4 409 Yds 13 - Par 4 429 Yds
5 - Par 5 545 Yds 14 - Par 5 532 Yds
6 - Par 4 355 Yds 15 - Par 3 151 Yds
7 - Par 3 187 Yds 16 - Par 3 198 Yds
8 - Par 4 455 Yds 17 - Par 4 420 Yds
9 - Par 4 404 Yds 18 - Par 5 514 Yds
Par 35 3,339 Yds Par 36 3,387 Yds
Awards Won: Rated four stars by Golf Digest's "Places to Play" (2000-06),
Top 80 Golf Resorts - Conde Nast Traveler (2010),
Rated No. 18 by Golfweek - Top-20 courses in Arizona (2011)
Gold Medal Resort - Golf Magazine (2010-11),
Platinum Medal Resort - Golf Magazine (2011-13),
No. 1 Resort in the United States - Harper's Hideaway Report,
No. 6 - Top 10 golf courses in Arizona - Gold Channel (2011)
No. 47 - Best Golf Resorts in U.S. - by Golf Digest (2011).
HISTORY: Designed back in the mid-1980s by Jay Morrish, the golf courses at
The Boulders, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, have developed into a world-class
experience, for both the serious golfer and for the laid-back social afternoon
outing with friends and family.
Morrish crafted the North and South Courses with designs built right into the
desert foothills, featuring time worn saguaros that stand guard around each
and every hole. The natural beauty of the land is complemented by nothing less
than amazing rock formations, which accentuates the difficulty and the
spectacular experience of the courses.
For almost 60 years, Morrish has been in the golf design business. First with
the legendary Robert Trent Jones and then for 10 years with the Jack Nicklaus
design team, before embarking on his own and then with Tom Weiskopf to craft
over 20 courses.
Some of his most spectacular work with Weiskopf included Troon Golf & Country
Club, Scottsdale TPC and Forest Highlands in Arizona.
It was his work however at The Boulders, Morrish's first solo designs that
brought him into the forefront of golf course architecture. "Designing the
Boulders really helped launch my career," said Morrish. In fact, The Boulders
is one of only two Gold Medal resorts in the Scottsdale region, as rated by
Back in the late 1960s, Red Lawrence designed the original nine holes, with an
additional nine added a few years later by Jack Snyder, but it was Morrish who
put The Boulders on the map.
"The Boulders afforded me a chance to create a sort of desert Pine Valley with
a lot of forced carries for the good players," Morrish continued. "This wasn't
very common at the time we built the course. Of course, now everyone does it.
I had great support from the owners who loved the concept."
Morrish gave the South Course a complete overhaul in 1983 and remodeled and
renovated the North just two years later, returning on occasion for a facelift
every now and again.
"For the original owners, I returned once or twice a year to tweak things,"
Morrish added. "Mostly this consisted of lowering vegetation in front of the
tees that had grown during my absence and blocked views."
Nowadays, all golf course architects are ecologically conscience, and with
good reason, but back then most designers were given carte blanche to mold and
shape the landscape.
"The environmentalists had not descended upon the desert as they have of
late," said Morrish. "We just used common sense in the design and
construction, so that as much of nature was left as possible. I am not exactly
a minimalist, but the land really lent itself to using the natural terrain.
This also worked well for the housing around the course."
HOLE-BY-HOLE REVIEW (NORTH COURSE): Usually, when a course opens with a par-
five the better than average golfer tells himself that this is a great way
to start out - with a birdie lurking down the fairway. It's possible, and
nice to dream but beware. The first hole on the North Course requires
pinpoint accuracy off the tee, not to mention a 200-yard carry over the
desert. Thoughts at this point are starting to turn to making par. The
first hole is indicative of what's in store as this is target golf at its
best. There is no doubt that the green is reachable in two; however, your
second shot must carry numerous bunkers en route to the putting surface.
If you're going to miss, do so to the left, setting up an easy pitch to
the narrow green.
The second is a nice par-three that can stretch from 120 yards to 195 from
the tips. A swale in front of the green and a bunker in the back define
the precision of this one-shot approach. The putting surface slopes back-to-
front but, being a resort course, it's usually not that slick so go with
your normal follow- through.
The par-five third is a dogleg left of 548 yards and, realistically, not
reachable for mere mortals. A tee shot down the center will set up a simple
layup to the 100-yard mark. From there, attack as anyone with a sand wedge
in their hands should be able stick this one close.
The fourth is right in front of you, a wide fairway leading straight up into
the beautiful foothills that are worthy of a photo opp. Your approach will
play slightly uphill to a two- tiered green. With a solid drive, the
fourth can be had.
At 425 yards and doglegging to the left, the fifth presents yet another
interesting challenge. At the outset, your tee shot must be long and
favor the right-center of the fairway. Second, your approach will be
uphill to a very difficult green that slopes from back-to- front. Finally,
bunkers right and back with a guarding tree left will make this your
hardest challenge on the outward nine.
A thing of beauty. That's what the sixth is. Just 142 yards from the back
buttons, this par-three features three of the most difficult bunkers on the
course...front, back and left. They are deep and menacing. Choose your club
wisely or else bogey looms large, maybe even a double.
The seventh and eighth are definite birdie chances at just 347 and 356
yards, respectively, in length. Both holes dogleg to the left and require
just a three-metal or long- iron off the tee. Don't make the mistake of
hitting driver as that will cost you dearly. After your tee ball on the
seventh, just a wedge will remain to a well- guarded green. A back-left
pin could cause trouble but go for the gusto while you have the chance.
More of the same on the eighth but you must play to the right off the tee
to avoid the gully and rock croppings that guard the corner of the
dogleg. The putting surface is well flanked by numerous, deep bunkers that
mandate some careful reading and navigation, especially if the wind is
blowing. The green does slope from back-to-front and left-to-right, so stay
below the hole to have a shot at birdie.
The front side closes with a majestic, dogleg left par-four, that takes
you downhill to the fairway and uphill to the green. Usually into a breeze,
this 417-yarder plays much longer than the yardage indicates. You will love
the view of the Sonoran desert and, if you're playing in the late
afternoon... well, just use your imagination. However, back to golf.
Playing uphill, your second shot club selection will be quite
demanding, particularly with a back- left pin placement. This is one of those
holes where a par is a great score and something to remember.
The teeth of the course are to be found at the opening holes on the back
nine. At 451 yards, the 10th is a brute, playing as a dogleg left and
uphill. A huge tee shot is needed to have a prayer at reaching the green in
two. Miss left off the tee and you'll have to contend with desert brush
and bunkers guarding the corner. A long-iron or fairway-metal will be
needed to reach the putting surface. This is where you start thinking bogey
and, with it, a sense of accomplishment. Miss right and you'll lose your
ball, not to mention your mind . One bright spot - the green is not protected
by sand, a small, but welcome, consolation.
Next up is the dogleg right 11th. This 445-yarder puts a premium on
driving accuracy and length. The fairway is quite ample but try to cut off
to much on the right and you'll make double-bogey. After a successful
tee shot, a medium- to long-iron will be left to a putting surface
guarded, both left and right, by sand. If someone told me that I could
have par and move on before I played the hole, that certainly would have
been my choice.
Although the 12th is a definite birdie chance, it is not without its
difficulties. A big tee shot down the left side of another dogleg left will
put you in the "go-zone" for the green. What makes this par-five arduous is
the green. Sloping severely from back-to-front, the two-tiered surface is
protected by deep sand and right by a large mound, obstructing your view.
You only live once so go for it.
Hard to believe that any hole could play harder than 13. When played from
the tips, this hole is a challenge you will love and hate at one and the
same time. Ample fairway will be your only saving grace. That leaves
you with a difficult approach over a desert canal to a wide, but
narrow, green. Be short and your ball will land in a collection area;
long and a deep menacing bunker awaits. Making par is certainly one's
goal here followed by moving on rapidly but the fact of the matter is that
bogey is not so bad.
Looking directly into the Sonoran sky, the 14th is quite picturesque.
Entirely over water, this par-three is all carry to the green. Bunkers
protect the backside of this diabolical green that slopes towards the
water. A front pin will be nothing less than formidable but use the incline to
get it close with a very delicate touch.
The 15th should be played as a par-four, since it's just 483 yards, but the
scorecard says par-five so play it as a three-shotter since you will need
every advantage you can muster. Bending slightly to the right, your tee
shot should favor the right side leaving you with a reasonable chance to get
home. The green is fairly open but sand does await the errant shot to the
right. If all else fails, play to the left, chip close and make a four.
Then get out of there.
The 16th is a solid par-four, straightaway and stretching 424 yards. A
good tee shot will leave a medium- to short-iron to a difficult green.
What makes this hole tough is the desert gulch that must be cleared in
order to reach the uphill green. The putting surface is very undulating
and guarded left and long by sand. This is not the time to fool around
with shots you thought you could make. Go for the ones you know you can
since there are still two difficult holes left.
The longest par-three on the course, the 17th can stretch to 220 yards
from the tips. Although it's long, the hole plays downhill to a fairly
large green with a huge bunker, featuring a boulder in the center, guarding
the right entrance to the surface. If the hole doesn't inspire you, then
the sunset will.
It's time to head home and the 18th is the sharpest dogleg on the course,
snapping 90-degrees to the right. Cut the corner and you're left with a
short- to medium-iron to a fairly small green. A perfect finish to a
HOLE-BY-HOLE REVIEW (SOUTH COURSE): The South opens up with a wonderful, but
tough par four that doglegs to the right. From the tips, you'll run out of
fairway at the 310 yard mark, so you should be able to blast away. Avoid the
trio of traps down the right side of the landing area and you're home free.
Well, sort of. A medium iron remains to a slightly elevated green with bunkers
left and rocks right. Be wary of a back-right pin, as this will bring plenty
of trouble into play.
The par three second is the shortest hole on the South at just 150 yards in
length. Distance control certainly is critical, as the putting surface is just
26 paces in depth and fronted by a trio of deep bunkers. Just a word of
caution, missing long is no bargain either.
Another sharp dogleg right, the third is one of seven par fours on the South
over 400 yards in length. The fairway is generous, but very undulating. Aim
for the 20 yard bunker at the end of the landing area, as this will set up a
medium to short-iron approach. You might need an extra stick, as the green
sits above the fairway. The putting surface is small with plenty of movement,
so try to stay below the hole for your best result. Miss long and you might
end up in a nasty pot bunker.
Next up is the 409 yard, par four fourth. The landing area off the tee is
generous and you'll need a 300-yard plus drive to reach the pond at the end of
the fairway. With a successful tee ball, just a short iron should remain to an
uphill putting surface that is the longest on the course at 46 paces. Although
it's long, the green is quite narrow, so pinpoint control with your approach
will be needed.
The first par five on the course is the fifth, which reaches 545 yards from
the back markers. There is no doubt that this is the signature hole at The
Boulders. This beauty features a split fairway for the tee shot. Playing down
the right will give you a better angle, but little in the way of an advantage.
The best play is towards the left landing area, thus leaving a medium to long
iron for a layup. The key is by-passing the traps down the right side. Your
approach to the minuscule green will be a short one, but again, you'll have
several bunkers to contend with. The putting surface is split into three
segments, but it's the beauty of the landscape that will keep you occupied.
Number six is another course favorite. Just 355 yards long, this gem bends to
the right with water guarding the fairway on the same side. The more you
decide to cut off, the more the lake will come into play. Since it's such a
short hole, play down the left and you'll be left with a 120-yard play to a
long and narrow putting surface. This is where accuracy will pay off, as the
back of the green is pinched tight between sand.
A medium lengthened par three awaits at the seventh. Most players will stop
and pull out the camera on this beaute, thanks mainly to the enormous
balancing boulder to the left of the blue tees. The backdrop of the green is
not too shabby either. A medium iron should suffice, unless the pin is on the
back tier of the putting surface. If that's the case, add another club or two
to reach the flag. Right or left and you'll be swallowed up by sand, which
will make for a difficult up and down.
From an elevated tee, the eighth can be stretched to 455 yards. The longest
par four on the course, features the widest fairway, so lock and load and bomb
one out there. Even with a big tee shot, you'll have a long iron or fairway
metal approach to another small green. In addition, your approach must clear a
wash 40 yards from the putting surface. How tough is the eighth, it plays as a
par five for the women...and me too.
If you want to take it on, then 255 is your number on the ninth. That's right,
a tee shot of 255 or more in the air is required to clear the bunker on this
slight, dogleg right. The more conservative route will be to aim towards the
left-center of the fairway, with the saguaro in the distance standing tall in
a fairway bunker. From here, it's a medium iron to a two-tiered green that
slopes from back to front. A back flag brings extra trouble in play, so play
to the center of the green if the pin is up top.
Number ten is the longest par three at The Boulders, stretching 221 yards from
the tips. Although it plays from an elevated tee box, this lengthy hole is all
you can handle. Bunkers guard three sides of the putting surface, which
reaches 35 paces and split from left to right by a ridge. Bail out left if you
must for your best shot at par. Better yet, choose the right set of tees for a
real chance at three.
From the longest par three to the longest par five, as you stroll up to the
11th tee box. From the back markers, you'll need a 200-plus carry just to
reach the fairway on this 601-yard monster. Avoiding the traps off the tee and
then again with your layup will be key. Favor the right side of the fairway
for the best angle to the pin and beware of the bunker laying in the center of
the landing area, just 60 yards away. The green is large with a steep ridge in
the middle and sand all around. There's good reason why it's rated as the
second most difficult hole on the course.
Depending upon which tee box you're playing from, the 12th is a reachable par
four off the tee. There is plenty of risk if that's your play, as the fairway
tightens considerably as you near the green. The heart-shaped putting surface
boasts three distinct sections and is quite small at just 26 paces. The best
play is a fairway metal off the tee and a wedge to the green. Making birdie
the old fashioned way is quite acceptable.
You'll need to crack a tee shot on the 13th just to reach the fairway of this
429 yard par four. Playing straightaway, you must avoid the 40-yard trap down
the left side, otherwise, you'll have little chance of clearing the wash that
fronts the green, not to mention the large mound. The green is long and
undulating, making this one of the most difficult holes on The South.
Birdies might be hard to come by on the closing holes, so you'll need to play
14 and 15 in an aggressive fashion. The 14th is a medium-lengthed par five,
reachable in two, especially after a successful tee shot. Playing from an
elevated tee, everything is right in front of you, just a wide open fairway.
It's the second shot that will have you guessing. The landing area near the
green is guarded by several crossing bunkers to keep you honest. If you're
able to reach the two-tiered putting surface, hope for a front flag, as the
long and narrow green runs from back to front. Miss long with your approach
and you'll have the saguaro's to contend with.
Although the 15th plays uphill, this little par three can yield a birdie or
two. Just 151 yards in length, the key here is pin position. The two-tiered,
31 paced green boasts two distinct pin positions. A front pin has attack all
over it, unless it's tugged close to the left pot bunker. A back-left flag
brings additional sand into play, so pick your stick and go for it.
It's not often you have back-to-back par three's, but that's what's in store
at the 16th. This time around, it's a robust 227 from the back markers, not to
mention a forced carry from tee to green. A draw from the tee is the play,
unless you overcook your approach and end up in the left, greenside bunker.
The putting surface is long with several undulating features, so stay right
and who knows, maybe you'll sink a long bomb for birdie.
Club selection off the tee is crucial to conquering the 17th hole, as the
fairway runs out at the 270-yard mark. Although this hole is over 400 yards in
length, a three-metal might be the play. It will leave a slightly longer
second, but, better safe than sorry. Your approach must clear another wash
that's 80 yards from the green. The putting surface is long and narrow,
reaching 38 paces, with three distinct tiers. Just getting on this green does
not guarantee par.
Water certainly does not come into play much at The Boulders, but it most
definitely stands out on the closing hole of The South. A wonderful par five
that reaches 583 yards in length, the 18th is a true three-shot hole. Avoid
the bunkers down the left off the tee, not to mention to trap on the right
with the tall saguaro stationed in the center. Your layup must negotiate the
100-yard bunker and the water on the right. Play out to the left and leave
yourself a wedge to this diabolical green. Fronted by water, reminiscent of
Bay Hill's 18th, the putting surface is 39 paces wide and very shallow, so you
better be precise. A back-right pin looks great, but can be costly if you push
FINAL WORD: It comes as no surprise that The Boulders has been rated a Gold
Medal resort by Golf Magazine and a five diamond facility by AAA for years.
And with good reason.
Let's start with beauty. If the millions of year old boulder formations that
mark the landscape don't do it for you, then how about the spectacular
sunsets, maybe the amazing vegetation or how about the stunning saguaros?
There's also tennis, hiking, horseback riding and, of course, the piece de
resistance, the world renowned Golden Door Spa, complete with massages,
facials and mud body wraps.
The amenities alone should keep you coming back for more, but if that doesn't
do it, then golf certainly will.
First of all, you know you're in for an interesting round of golf when the
scorecard reads; "Coyote Rule - If there is reasonable evidence that your ball
was taken by a coyote and isn't found, place a ball on the spot from which the
ball was moved, no penalty." YIKES!
Back to the matter at hand. Thirty-six holes of golf, set up for all levels of
play, featuring five sets of tees ranging from 4,900 to just under 7,000
yards. In addition, The Boulders has just launched two short courses on both
18s, ideal for the golfer on the go with limited time or the young and
inexperienced player, who's not ready for a full 18. Called the "Pebble Tees,"
the courses feature holes ranging from 60 to 200 yards.
"There's an assumption that you must play 18 holes of golf, and new golfers
sometimes are discouraged that the game is difficult and they have to make
this big commitment to braving it out for hours on the course," said The
Boulders' Director of Golf Operations Tom McCahan. "The short courses make it
less stressful, more fun and easier to get into the game."
Yes, this is a resort layout, so it comes complete with beautiful villas and
recently renovated casitas dotted throughout the property, but not infringing
upon the golf courses.
Not to be overlooked is the Golf Academy and practice facility. Recently
expanded and renovated, the driving range is complete with all the latest
technology, while the instructors at the academy are some of the best in the
country. In fact, Director of Instruction Donald Crawley, a Class A PGA and
British PGA member, has been rated as a Top 100 Teacher in America by Golf
Magazine for years. In addition, Crawley, a two-time PGA Teacher of the Year,
is recognized by Golf Digest as one of the top-10 teachers in the state of
Arizona and has been voted the best instructor in the valley three years
running. "We teach GolfSimplified, keeping instruction simple, practical and
personalized," said Crawley.
Year after year The Boulders continues to be rated as one of the top
destinations in the country, but that certainly does not deter them of resting
on their laurels.
Whether its refurbishing every bunker on the courses, or re-seeding each
fairway or as simple as replacing every golf cart on the property, the powers
that be will continue to refresh this wonderful retreat to maintain its top
status. "There is constant year-round maintenance to keep the bent grass
smooth and the 419 bermuda base fairways plush," added Crawley.
There are differences in both courses.
"The North course is longer and features several subtle dog leg holes,"
continued Crawley. "A more traditional layout with generous fairways, but the
back nine is the most challenging. The more advanced players and I prefer the
North: score on the front, hang on to finish strong on the back."
If it's the pretty look you want, well maybe the South is for you.
"The South course is most scenic, no forced carries (over desert) from the
forward tees, but narrower fairways," added Crawley. A true 'target golf'. The
visiting guests prefer the South because of it's beauty."
What makes this place so special is the coupling of the courses with amenities
that are second to none. When it comes to hospitality, you'll be hard pressed
to find a more courteous and helpful staff.
The Boulders will ease your mind and senses and will stimulate your heart,
regardless of your passion. Your time here will make you realize that you
don't have a care in the world. What a perfect place to visit, Carefree, AZ
and The Boulders.