Patriot Course – Wigwam Golf Resort: History abounds at the Patriot (formerly Blue) Course, which was designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Sr. on the site of the original course created as a retreat for Goodyear Tire executives in the 1930s. It is one of three championship courses at Wigwam Resort, making it the only resort in the state with that distinction, and definitely is the most quirky of the trio. Jones’ trademarks include elongated tee boxes, elevated greens with subtle putting surfaces and strategic bunkers and water hazards, and all are in play here.
Forrest Richardson, a Phoenix course architect and design historian, who oversaw a renovation of the Gold and Patriot courses in 2005, did his best to keep that intact, even though he had to re-create the last five holes to add practice facilities and accommodate other changes to the overall golf complex.
“We have so few of these great old parkland style courses in the Phoenix area, which are so refreshing to play,” Richardson said. “Our goal was not to redefine that experience, but to re-create it.” Preserving history also was part of the overall plan at a resort whose golf guests over the years have included Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Namath and former President Gerald R. Ford.
If they enjoyed exciting golf, this was the right place because the Patriot Course is a combination of character and contradiction, sporty and subtle, aggravating and invigorating. It is a shotmaker’s course that plays to par 70 at just 6,000 yards from the tips, although Jones’ hallmark array of deep, perilous bunkers, water hazards and doglegs might make it seem exceedingly longer. Water hazards on seven holes add to the challenge and the aesthetics of the Patriot Course.
The back nine, in particular, is loaded with fun. Starting at No. 11 (after a 492-yard par-5), you will face five holes at 330 yards or shorter from the back tees. Think drivable, but be careful in the attempt.
Next up is the par-3 15th with its island green, a design feature used by Jones as early as the 1930s, faced by a stone wall. No. 16, a short par-4, demands a carry over a canal off the tee and an approach to a well-bunkered green. The 17th, another par-3 at 144 yards, was created by Richardson to mirror the famous 16th hole designed by Jones at Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters tournament. No. 18 is the longest par-4 on the course at 464 yards, made even more difficult by mounds and bunkers.
Beyond the golf experience, Wigwam offers an array of first-class amenities (click the Wigwam Heritage Course description for details) and much of its luster has been restored in recent years. The history has been preserved, yet it offers modern-day comfort, dining and amenities that add up to an uncommon overall experience in a location where you might not expect to find it.
To read “The Buzz” on Wigwam’s Gold Course, please click here.
To read “The Buzz” on Wigwam’s Heritage Course, please click here.
It’s “All Things Arizona Golf” from the Arizona Golf Authority.