The opening hole on We-Ko-Pa’s Cholla course makes an unforgettable first impression – for several reasons. The most obvious upon arrival at the tee box is its visually appealing natural setting. The elevated vantage point overlooks untouched Sonoran Desert as the fairway sweeps from right to left with a backdrop dominated by Red Mountain. The ride down from the tee box through thick desert, which just served as the “carry,” usually flushes a covey of quail among other critters. It’s the first glimpse of what many consider to be one the best golf experiences in the Scottsdale area.
“We-Ko-Pa’s Sonoran Desert location really gives the overall experience a unique twist when compared to golf clubs surrounded by development,” said General Manager, Matt Barr. “The native desert, incredible views, wildlife, peace and quiet definitely appeal to our guests.”
Another highlight of the hole is its flexibility. A par 4 at 351 yards from the back tee and 332 from the one-up tee, both conservative and aggressive options are available. Golfers who prefer to ease their way into the round can fire away to the right at the widest part of the fairway with a 214-yard shot from the back tee and 195 yards from one-up. This leaves a very manageable 137 yards to the green.
The aggressive line is to the left over a desert transition area. The edge of the fairway is 234 yards from the back tee, 215 from one-up, and something slightly less usually finds the rough. The penalty for coming up short in the transition is mild. The hard-pan-type lie in the wash is not as problematic as it may first appear. Plus, it’s only 130-120 yards to the green. However, the left side is guarded by desert and a miss to the right has a good chance of finding a fairway bunker.
“If you have some confidence in your driver, maybe you were hitting it well warming up before the round, I like the aggressive option,” said Eric Dettman, Head Golf Professional. “If you pull it off, the reward is a straightforward wedge from about 80 yards or so.”
No matter which strategy golfers use to tackle the opening hole, it’s a good idea to take advantage of this 13 handicapper with a solid par or even a birdie before reaching the challenge at the next – the No. 3-handicapped, par-5, 2nd hole.