The original Mountain Shadows Golf Club had been ranked among the finest precision-length courses in the world. In the 1970s and 80s Golf Digest continually bestowed the course as one of the best short courses in America. Originally designed by golf course architect Arthur Jack Snyder, known for his work throughout the West and in Hawaii, the remake of this beloved course has been carefully carried out for a new generation of golfers.
Placed into the hands of golf architect Forrest Richardson, who worked with Snyder for more than 25 years, the renaissance of the golf course debuted in early 2017. With an emphasis on fun for the casual golfer as well as the serious player, the newly configured and fully rebuilt course features eighteen par-3 holes, each with an interesting personality.
“Fun golf is defined by presenting puzzles that beckon the player back for more. At Mountain Shadows we have created just that — a series of riddles that are demanding, but all the while enjoyable,” comments Richardson.
The result is an ideal golf course for families, corporate outings, serious competition and casual strolls made up of golfers with varying skill levels. Using the same icons as ski resorts, each hole combines “more difficult” Diamond Tees, “intermediate” Square Tees and “easier” Circle Tees to be selected by the golfer to form their “personal course layout.” This creates a friendly and competitive golf experience.
Hallmarks of the course are the exceptional quality and conditions. These, combined with the intense flexibility of tees and length create an unparalleled experience. Holes play from 75-yards to 200-yards. The golfer will not only get to use a diverse array of clubs, but will complete 18-holes in just a few hours. This solution to our time-urgent society may well be among the greatest homeruns hit by the rebuilding of Mountain Shadows. In today’s fast-paced society we have time demands that are escalating, and seemingly never ending. No one seems spared and golf has felt the brunt of this change in lifestyle. Now we have an answer.
Golf at Mountain Shadows involves less time and more fun, yet can be intensely challenging and even tough as nails. For the experienced player it is a great primer for honing the game and developing skills. The layout may be as demanding as you dare — for the golfer chooses the degree of challenge.
The story is also one of environmental transition. Turf area has been reduced by more than 50% and the resulting water conservation means an even more sustainable golf course than had been built back when we seldom heard of such ideas.
The Mountain Shadows of today can be summed up by the saying “what is old is new again,” for the ideals integrated into the original design of the resort, course and residences are even more appropriate today. The story is basically the same, only now it is told to a new world where we value time, resources and authentic experiences in different and more intense ways.
The original story began the same way with the same mission as we have brought to reality once again: Create a remarkable desert setting at the foot of Camelback Mountain where people can mingle, play, relax and enjoy the one-of-a-kind Sonoran Desert offered in centrally located Paradise Valley.
Richardson explains, “Our work here is not solely to re-create, but to look deep into the original design. At every turn we brought to the surface the attributes which were so amazingly innovative in the early 1960s — but we have done so in a language which fits the New Mountain Shadows Resort. Our goal was to find the same beauty, harmony, function and innovation as Jack Snyder so daringly created more than 50 years ago.”
Indeed, Richardson’s goals for the Mountain Shadows Golf Club are grounded in his belief that golf is meant to be an enjoyable pastime. The trend toward lengthier golf courses goes against land conservation, responsible water use and time. Richardson set out to not only revitalize the golf course, but to set a new bar for par-3 golf experiences. Mountain Shadows is among only a handful of the world’s 18-hole, par-3 high-end golf courses open to the public. Over and over again we heard that his desire was to have “people to come back and play, again and again.” Indeed this became his most favorite way to describe what he was doing as the new course took shape.
One of the greatest pleasures of any golf course are its greens and unlocking their secrets. As example, famous courses such as Oakmont Country Club are literally defined by the greens where members delight in seeing guests misread a putt and then show them the tricky solution. At Mountain Shadows the newly rebuilt greens are a joy to putt, and along the way, there is fun in both trying to figure out their elusive solutions and finally arriving at that knowledge. The course, while short, does not always play the same. Brut strength, distance and power are not required. The lesser player may not have any advantage on all of the holes, but at short holes and on the greens themselves, even the youngest player may prove just as skilled, or even better than, the seasoned player. Large greens are not only easier targets, but they promote accuracy and a choice in approaches. They are forgiving and challenging all at once.
In a nearly Zen-like design, the routing of Mountain Shadows takes golfers from one “room” to another. The opening is a trek along the perimeter of the property in a counterclockwise orientation. Views of Camelback begin to cascade into the round of golf. The first segue is to the interior “donut” — now a clockwise progression across the famous Mountain Shadows pond, along the stream and back to the stellar view of Camelback. This is the “oasis” of the course, defined by the sound of water and the rustling of leaves above. The finish is back along the perimeter, but in more open spaces. Here the course shines with the unforgettable Mummy and Dell holes, long par-3s and elevated tees.
At the final destination the course spills into the resort as if it were a ski slope winding down from the mountain above. What lies ahead are all that abounds after the round, whether it be a relaxing swim, an energetic dinner or a comfortable bed.
Scope: Master Planning, Zoning Approvals, Construction Documents, Bidding, Construction Observation Services, Branding & Signage
Course: 18-holes/Par-54/2,400-yards, Bonus Hole
Budget: $3.5 million USD
Completion: Opened 2017
Address: 5445 East Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley, Arizona 85253
Mountain Shadows photos ©2017, Dave Sansom www.davesansom.com