It was a completely new, yet familiar, experience for me to tee it up at the Short Course at Mountain Shadows. As the Head Golf Professional (and an Assistant Professional prior to that) at the old Marriott Mountain Shadows back in the early 90s, I had played the original version hundreds of times. The course was perfect for skins games and nearly any other type of gambling that can take place on a golf course. Fortunes were made and lost daily– $50 was a fortune to young golf professionals back then.
However, the resort and course had a complete overhaul from the ground up recently and it had been 25 years since I last stepped foot on the property. With such an emotional attachment and great memories of a location and facility, it was difficult to know how I would react to all the changes.
As I hoped, the Short Course at Mountain Shadows was an absolute blast to play. The round took us just over 2 hours although I know that a foursome would likely take closer to 2.5 or 3 hours. It was just my son and myself for our round so we were able to play quickly but we were never held up by the larger groups in front of us.
Originally designed by Arthur Jack Snyder in 1961, golf course architect, Forest Richardson – who had been mentored by and worked closely with Jack in previous decades, was given the challenge to update the well known executive course located in the heart of the exclusive Paradise Valley community.
Most of the course’s footprint remained the same within a wall of Oleander bushes shielding it from the outside world but the routing of a few holes had to be completely changed to better fit the property’s new design. It was nice that the spectacular views of Camelback Mountain have been better enhanced from the golf shop/outdoor gathering area which now features an outdoor bar. The golf course also continues to prominently emphasize the views of the Phoenix landmark to the south as well as Mummy Mountain to the north.
Greens and surrounds were completely re-constructed, many with dramatic results. The greens were always the greatest design feature of the course but they were mostly traditional with a good amount of movement. The new layout features greens that have a distinctive “tier” element that provides a much more challenging putting environment. None can be more pronounced that the 4th hole that has a 3 to 4 foot drop from the front of the green to middle and then another 4-5 foot climb to get on the back of the green. However, most are very manageable (although I did 3 putt the 4th hole) and the design rewards accurate shots into the green.
Because of the abbreviated length of many of the holes, the greens are also smaller than most but what is most noticeable is how well they roll. They were flawless and the overall course conditions were excellent. The turf maintenance and mowing heights around the greens were consistent with high end private clubs throughout Scottsdale.
The Forest Wager hole was a unique addition to the routing that provides a mini-game to be played after the 17th hole but prior to the 18th tee. Although it is listed as a Par 2 (not included in the total par for the course), I would have to say that there are likely far more 3s and 4s scored here than 2s as it a long first putt with a large mound in the middle of an already downhill putt. However, it is a nice featured bonus hole that is fun to play. Forest also recommends you to play against your opponents in similar fashion to the popular golf game Bingo Bango Bongo. Here, one point is awarded for the closest to the hole on the first shot played. Another for the first player to hole out (the farthest plays first, as always). And a third point for the lowest score.
The 18th hole ends with a great view of Rusty’s, the outdoor patio and bar, which is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the spectacular views while reconciling bets and remembering all the putts that dropped…or didn’t drop as expected.
Dale Samar, PGA