We-Ko-Pa Renovates Cholla Course

One of the Scottsdale area’s foremost golf complexes has gotten even better.

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, the award-winning 36-hole experience owned and operated by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, has recently completed a $1.8 million renovation of its original Scott Miller-designed Cholla Course.

The 15-year-old layout now sports faster-rolling grass on all 18 greens, new sand and drainage for all bunkers and six fewer acres of turf. An improved irrigation infrastructure will also enhance playability from tee to green.

For anyone who has played Chola before, the most obvious change comes on the 605-yard, par-5 8th.

WE-Ko-Pa Hole 8 (before)
BEFORE: Hole No. 8 on We-Ko-Pa’s Cholla Course.

The hole still requires a tee shot over a gnarly vegetation-filled arroyo to a wide fairway that plunges dramatically left-to-right downhill.

But prior to the renovation, reaching the green in two presented a risk-reward scenario heavily weighted towards risk – a deep, sandy and rocky arroyo ran across the front of the green gobbling up all but the longest shots. The layup was no cinch either as the desert pinched in on both sides, and even when executed flawlessly, the steeply sloped fairway left a difficult downhill lie for the approach.

The renovated hole creates a more realistic risk-reward opportunity: the layup landing area was widened, and a band of grass now runs over the arroyo all the way to the green. The changes give longer hitters a green light to go for it, and those who lay up are less likely to draw a tough lie.

"After" shot of Cholla Number 8
AFTER: No. 8 on the Cholla Course offers less risk, greater reward.

“We’re very pleased with the way the renovation turned out,” said Matt Barr, general manager of We-Ko-Pa Golf Club. “Although the turf reduction and enhancements to No. 8 will be the most obvious features, the new greens, bunkers, irrigation infrastructure will positively impact playability and overall golfer satisfaction for years to come.”

“The Cholla renovation is an example of investment in the We-Ko-Pa experience,” said Owen Doka, assistant general manager of We-Ko-Pa Golf Club and former Tribal Councilmember of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. “Last year we made a number of enhancements to the clubhouse, as well as new cart paths on Saguaro. This year it was Cholla’s turn. We’re very proud of the honors Cholla has received in the past 15 years, and we’re committed to doing what it takes to maintain and improve the overall experience for our guests.”

Designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the 10-year-old Saguaro Course ranks as the top public course in Arizona, according to Golfweek. The pre-reno Cholla clocks in at No. 9.

Both neoclassic routings weave in out of myriad arroyos and rock-strewn hummocks for a risk-reward adventure fraught with semi-blind drives, legitimate three-shot par-5s, misdirection sightlines and strategic split fairways that offer 360-degree panoramas of nearby mountains, including Red, McDowell, Superstition and Four Peaks (pronounced WEE-ko-pah in Yavapai).

Perhaps more significantly, We-Ko-Pa is a pure golf experience: There’s a decidedly blissful absence of commercial development, residential real estate and traffic noise, leaving golfers with little more than the cooing cries of Gamble’s quail and the occasional crack! from a pin-seeking golf ball.

Post-round, explore the premier pleasures of neighboring We-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center. The AAA Four Diamond awarded property offers 246 well-appointed guestrooms and suites, six restaurants, casino gaming, 25,000-square-foot conference center, spa, swimming and RV park, plus a singular adventure center that sports horseback riding, Jeep tours, hiking, biking, kayaking and more.

For more upscale golf, tee it up at the Keith Foster-designed SunRidge Canyon, Eagle Mountain (Miller), McDowell Mountain (Randy Heckenkemper), Longbow (Ken Kavanaugh), Troon North (Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish), Legend Trail (Rees Jones) and TPC Scottsdale (Weiskopf), annual host to the Waste Management Phoenix Open (Jan. 30-Feb. 5). And don’t miss bringing the crew to TopGolf Scottsdale near Talking Stick Resort.

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, Scottsdale Golf Travel Guide
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, Saguaro Course #14

Big-ticket entertainment is also nearby. Plan your Sonoran Desert escape to include Las Noches de las Luminarias (through Dec. 31; Scottsdale Desert Botanical Gardens), Christmas at the Princess (through Jan. 1; Scottsdale Princess), Dave Mason (Jan. 7; Talking Stick Resort), Itzhak Perlman (Jan. 12; Mesa Arts Center), Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction (Jan. 14-22; WestWorld); Taylor Dayne (Jan. 20; Talking Stick Resort), Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show (Feb. 16-26; WestWorld); and Ariana Grande (Feb. 17; Talking Stick Resort).

[box]Special deal: Book a round of golf at We-Ko-Pa and get a $10 discount off the posted resort rate by using promo code AVID now through March 31. Restrictions apply. Learn more and book a 36-hole package or stay & play package.[/box]


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Chris Duthie is a Durango-based contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer. Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.