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McDowell Mountain Course Review

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Course Review - McDowell Mountain Golf Club

Nestled in the majestic foothills of the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale, Arizona, Sanctuary Golf Course at Westworld provides a spectacular golf setting. The course's eco-sensitive layout takes advantage of the natural terrain and vegetation, mixing native wetlands and cattails with saguaro cacti, ironwood and mesquite trees. Built in 1999 on the western slope of Scottsdale's McDowell Mountains and adjacent to the nationally recognized Westworld equestrian center, Sanctuary is more than a stunning golf course.

Acclaimed golf course architect Randy Heckenkemper transformed the Bureau of Reclamation's storm water retention area into a 6,624-yard, par-71 layout that provides a haven for native plants and wildlife. Sanctuary at Westworld is the first golf course in Arizona, and the 17th course in the world, to attain the coveted Audubon Signature Status. While friendly to the environment, Sanctuary is an entertaining challenge that demands intelligent course management at every hole. Although total yardage from each tee, at first glance, appears short, the course offers many challenges.

Sanctuary offers a spirited mix of holes, including a number of intriguing short par 4’s that require a decisive and perhaps restrained strategy from tee to green, especially on the par four 15th hole which serves as terse reminder of this strategy on its short downhill dog-leg left. If you are daring, you can go for the green by driving the ball over the corner. Unfortunately, if you are not precise the result will be worse than a lay up with a safe iron, thanks to the giant bunkers guarding the green and the absence of a grass landing area near the green when approaching the green directly from the tee box. The front nine is links-style golf, with plenty of fairway landing area. The back nine becomes more desert, target-style golf with carries over rock washes that require accuracy and distance.

The Sonoran desert's native quails, roadrunners and jackrabbits watch quietly as you play on the rolling terrain of the Sanctuary Golf Course. After the sun sets brilliantly to the west, deer and wild coyote come out to play on Sanctuary's 6,650-yard, par-71 layout that features nearly 80 acres of turf and 65 sand bunkers. Bordered by naturally protected areas, holes 2, 3, 4 and 5, demand precision and smart golf management.

Number eight is one of two signature holes. This 200 yard plus, par 3 is both beautiful and enticing, incorporating one large water feature complete with two multi-tiered waterfalls. The water cuts in front of the green and is deceptively hidden from view off the tees. The eighteenth hole is the second signature hole. The course closes heroically with this dog-leg left par 5 five 18th that plays uphill to a narrow opening across an arroyo, setting up the thrilling outcome. The 18th hole is beautiful with spectacular views of the McDowell Mountains.

Score Card - McDowell Mountain Golf Club




Other Information - McDowell Mountain Golf Club


Practice Facilities: A very nice driving range, putting and chipping green and practice sand traps.


19th Hole: An elegant setting with a nice menu selection, the restaurant at Sanctuary is a great place to relax and take in the mountain views after a challenging round of golf. There is also a snack bar and drink cart.


Clubhouse: The Sanctuary Golf Course's stone and stucco clubhouse is an inviting retreat that features a host of amenities including a comfortably elegant dining room, a multi-use, outdoor covered pavilion and an impressive golf shop.


The Players:

  • Designer: Randy Heckenkemper
  • Director of Golf: John Patzwald
  • Golf Pro: Ryan Stemsrud
  • Superintendent: Jeff Davis


Grass type: Greens: Bermuda grass.


Golf Lessons There's no better place to fine-tune your golf game than the Sanctuary Golf Course. Whether you are perfecting your swing on the driving range or mastering difficult shots on course, Sanctuary’s teaching professionals can offer you individual or group instruction geared to your particular golfing style, experience and personal goals.


Recommended handicap: With five sets of tees on each hole, the Sanctuary provides an enjoyable golf experience for players of every skill level.


1 -10 Course Rating by Meridian’s Golf Specialists: 7


Comments by Meridian Guests:

  • “We all had fun. The last few holes were exceptional.”
  • “A great golf experience, although a few holes were strange because I was not permitted to step onto the ground to get the ball when it was hit out of bounds.”
  • “Sanctuary was challenging and playable, which is not usually the case.” “Challenging greens.”


The Drive: Less than 15 minutes from Meridian. Located on the beautiful McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale.



McDowell Mountain Golf Club

10690 E. Sheena Dr.
Scottsdale, AZ 85255





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