The Buzz: Nestled in the rugged foothills of the scenic McDowell Mountains, Ancala Country Club is graced by the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert and presents a well-conditioned target-style layout with plenty of challenges and amenities befitting an upscale private club. The par-72 layout has five sets of tees, ranging from 4,344 to 6,815 yards and is an excellent test of length, precision, shot-making and strategy with desert ravines that crisscross fairways and a large lake running the full length of two holes.
Over the years, there has been a series of misinformation about the course that has been misleading. For example, depending on which web site you access, the slope from the back tees will range from 152 down to 139. Ancala’s own score card puts it at 145 with a handicap rating of 73.5. One thing to keep in mind here is that when slope climbs above 135, it’s a layout with plenty of teeth and every review agrees on that one.
Various sites also say that it stretches to 7,000 yards (not really) and list the legendary Pete Dye as the designer. It actually was designed by Dye’s son, Perry, who works with his father, and is a well established golf course architect who has probably done his most impressive design work overseas. One more thing that’s a little confusing is that Ancala CC is not part of the master-planned Ancala community, which surrounds the course and is comprised of 542 high-end custom-designed homes. In fact, the community’s web site cautions its homeowners against using the course for jogging, walking pets and other activities and points out that only members are allowed to play golf there. That said, Ancala CC offers a wide variety of equity and non-equity golf and social memberships and excellent amenities, including tennis facilities and a well-stocked wine and spirits shop.
It has several interesting holes, starting with the sixth, an uphill par 4 at 356 yards from the back tees that features dramatic mounding along the right side of the landing area and a long bunker protecting the left side. Another large bunker protects the left side of an undulating green with a false front. The 15th is a drivable par 4 at 304 yards but demands a well-placed tee shot. The green is protected by a bunker on the right side about 30 yards short of the putting surface and a pot bunker on the left. No. 18 is an excellent par 4 and the No. 2 handicap hole at 453 yards. The green is protected by a bunker on the left side and a water hazard and waste bunker on the right, which will help your approach shot from getting wet, but presents a difficult up-and-down. The green is one of the largest and most undulating on the course. Ancala, which opened in 1991, also has received certification in environmental planning from the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses as a result of its conservation and wildlife enhancement programs.