As We-Ko-Pa Resort and its Saguaro course celebrate their tenth anniversary, so do we for it was on the Saguaro course that our writing career launched during a match up with publisher Tim Branco when we sponsored a media event with our Butthead Covers. Tim and Alice won the competition that day and we won the opportunity to write about our Scotland experience representing the US in the International Pairs tournament. And the rest as they say is history with a monthly and weekly columns for New England Golf Monthly and many other periodicals and websites including our own.
Between world travels, We-Ko-Pa is one of our local Arizona favorites. We-Ko-Pa golf is awe-inspiring from sunrise to sunset. The Sonoran Desert shines with the majestic Four Peaks, Red Mountain, McDowell Mountain and the Matazal range surrounding the courses. Developed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, Saguaro is the shorter of the two courses and more forgiving to the golfers yet there is no shortage of views and fun.
Cholla is a bit more mature, designed by Scott Miller and celebrating 15 years. This is target desert golf epitomized by the challenging number 8. Warning – if the superintendent tucks the flagstick in the back left center, fly the approach short and right. It can be a game of goofy golf trying to get a ball to stick as the green mounds off to the left. It is a tough beauty from start to finish instilling great pride with a par. The practice facility at We-Ko-Pa is extensive with two driving ranges and multiple putting and chipping areas, so arrive early to enjoy. The clubhouse is grand with indoor or outdoor fireside seating before or after a round.
We-Ko-Pa will always be preserved without development – pure desert golf, as it is set on the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. Mary, president of the tribe wishes for all to come to her sovereign nation to enjoy the spirits of the land. Right up the road from We-Ko-Pa, wild west entertainment may be scheduled at Fort McDowell Adventures. Wanna ride? Choose between a horse and a green zebra (mini open jeep) or rise up, up and away in a hot air balloon over the desert. Team events are fun when it involves roping metal steers. Cowboys will teach you how, first standing, then build up to sitting on a stationary horse with a motorized calf that runs forward. You’ll be signing up for the rodeo in no time, or not. Either way, it’s a hoot and the chow is down home, charcoal grilled good. The cute quail on the course turn out to be pretty tasty on the plate, not that they came from the fairways of course. Combined with chicken, ribs and ribeye with country side dishes of corn, cowboy beans and salad with gourmet dressings like grape serano, all tastes are covered. A beer donkey (as friendly but not as talkative as Shrek’s donkey) is ready for hire to serve a cold one or a photo op. City Slicker cattle drives can also be arranged but if you’re “one thing” in life is gambling, the Fort McDowell Casino is ready for play and we hear the spa at the We-Ko-Pa Resort is pretty special too.
Golf is the most spectacular option as far as we are concerned. As the world’s tallest (at the time built) fountain spews high in the sky a short distance away and coyotes, javelinas and other critters appear out of nowhere, you never know what might happen. Head to We-Ko-Pa and see where it leads. The extraordinary layouts may be previewed at www.wekopa.com