SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There aren't many golf courses in the Valley of the Sun that aren't desert courses. The Padre Course at Camelback Golf Club is one of them.
Laid out in the shadow of Camelback Mountain, the Padre Course, which was redesigned by Arthur Hills in 1999, is unique among Scottsdale-area courses. Wide fairways, water hazards and plenty of grass rule the day on this extremely playable yet challenging layout.
Play it from the tips (at nearly 6,900 yards) and you've got plenty of challenge. Move up a tee or two, and it is certainly the antithesis of the notion of a good walk spoiled.
In fact, contrary to many modern courses, the Padre Course is imminently walkable. And the views never stop coming, from the opening tee shot to the end.
'I came here seven years ago,' said Rob Bartley, director of golf operations at the Marriott-affiliated facility. 'And I sat in the dining room and looked out across the golf course at the McDowell Mountains and said, 'This place is heaven.' '
The Padre is beautiful, but full of trouble
On the surface, Camelback's Padre Course comes across as a gentle challenge. After all, the rolling fairways are covered in lush turf and the overall length of the course isn't difficult to manage.
But upon closer examination, you'll find that most holes have some pretty challenging bunkering, a few have large water hazards, and the greens are laden with false fronts and sides, especially in the winter.
For the first time, the greens weren't overseeded; they were painted. And that's a recipe for fast greens because the Bermudagrass is dormant.
There are several holes where golfers will have to use caution, including the finishing stretch of 16, 17 and 18. In each case, if hit your approach shot on the green too close to the water, there's a good chance it will spin off and roll into the water, depending on the shot shape.
The upside is that come spring, the greens won't undergo transition problems, making for healthier greens much earlier in the year.
Overall, the course provides a nice mix of easier and more difficult holes. The 10th, for example, is a par 4 that plays 482 yards from the tips. Nothing tricky, but the sheer length and large bunker in front of the green make it one of the most difficult holes on the course. The same could be said for the eighth, a par 3 that exceeds 215 yards and is all carry over water.
The fifth is a medium-length par 5 at 553 yards, but a lake that comes into play on a potential layup second shot and approach shot make it the No. 1 handicap hole on the course.
Camelback Golf Club's Padre Course: The verdict
The Padre Course is in stark contrast to its sister course, Indian Bend, which is currently being redesigned by Hurdzan-Fry. While the new Indian Bend will be a hybrid of desert and parkland golf, the Padre is purely parkland, which makes it stand out among Scottsdale golf courses.
The course was also renovated at the same time the 36,000-square-foot clubhouse was -- to the tune of $16 million. It's a large investment for the entire golf experience, which means you'll enjoy dining and hanging out in the clubhouse just like you will playing the course.
Camelback Golf Club also has terrific practice facilities that include a large grass range, short-game area and putting green. The golf shop is among the best in the country, and lessons are available from Camelback's staff of professionals.
In short, the Padre Course is a solid play in an area full of great golf courses.