We-Ko-Pa is a Yavapai word. What’s Yavapai and what does it mean, you ask? Well, I’m a golfer (or so I like to think) and not a linguist, but best as I know, Yavapai is an Indian tribe with some connections to the Apaches and We-Ko-Pa means this completely unique course. A birdie on this hole is almost as rare as a hole in one. You will complete your round on the par 4 18th hole—the desert on the left, the water on the right and a downhill risk-reward shot required— what better way to wrap up a day on the links?
After a great round (regardless of my score), I was still captivated by the surroundings and decided to hang out a bit longer to view the Club amenities. They offer a world class practice facility showcasing multiple target greens with precise yardages, four putting greens, a chipping green with a practice bunker and several club cleaning stations for your convenience. Upon entry of the clubhouse, you feel like you are in a canyon. The wood beams, water and fire features and woven baskets from the Yavapai culture create an ambience of comfort. The spectacular views of the various mountain ranges inspire ‘four mountains’. If you want to know more, you are going to have to find out on your own. But if you want to know what ‘four mountains’ has to do with golf, then I say go play the We-Ko-Pa Golf Club. You can choose between two highly acclaimed courses—the original Cholla and the newer Saguaro. This Hacker has an affinity for originals, so I spent my 18 holes recently at the Scott Miller de- signed course.
Some of the most dramatic scenery you can find in Arizona will be at the Cholla course—as you scan your 360 degree panoramic view of the Four Peaks Mountains, McDowell Mountains, Red Mountains and the Superstition Mountains–you can’t help but be in awe of how fabulous a desert golf experience can be. There are some excellent courses in the Valley of
Sun, but it is rare to find one void of residential development. The Cholla offers that escape. It truly is one of the few places where it’s you, the ball and nature.
Opened in 2001, the Cholla covers almost 500 acres of natural desert landscape. The course plays a challeng- ing 7,225 yards from the back tees but does cater to players of all calibers. Be sure to bring all of your clubs, because Cholla doesn’t miss a thing. I would have to say this course is a bit more ‘designed’ than its brother the Saguaro, but the greens play fast and true. The fairways are lined with thick desert foliage and provide a tough challenge. The tee shots are a bit trickier (some of them even blind which we all know I just loooove!). It’s really all about making good club selections and being accurate.
I was told to be aggressive and so I was. I was tested at every turn. Miller got it right when he blended just the right amount of doglegs and straight- away holes. He also gave us ample fairways, various elevation changes, two lakes, and some really strategic bunkers—all the while maintaining this pristine desert environment.
There isn’t a single out of bounds stake on the entire course. Like I said, it’s all about the accuracy—if you hit well, you are probably going to be pleased. The par 3’s on this course steal the show— some for their surrounding views and some for their design. And if you are really shooting well enough, you can join the elite We-Ko-Pa’s Hole-in-One Club. Unfortunately, you won’t find my name on the list. If you are a big swinger, there are some par 5’s that you will fall in love with. The eighth hole is the longest and most spectacular, play- ing at over 600 yards. It’s also probably considered the true signature hole of awe. This 10,000 square foot accommodation is split into two areas, one on each side of the main patio. The north side houses the regularly honored golf shop retail area while the south side contains the dining areas and bar. And that is where I ended my day—with a fabulous meal from the grill and a great drink from the bar.
The Cholla course is meticulously maintained and has received much deserved high praise from both the media and golfers alike. But what really makes it stand out amongst other great courses is the golf experi- ence it provides. From the design to the mountain views to the diligence in maintaining nature and the over- whelming customer service, We-Ko-Pa Cholla is truly a quintessential style and memorable desert course. For more information on We-Ko-Pa, please visit wekopa.com