Buckeye, Arizona USA — October 28th, 2019
Describing it as “an amazing site,” golf course architect Forrest Richardson confirms his new 12-hole, all par-3, design will move forward in the desert southwest of Phoenix, Arizona. The course, dubbed ‘On the Rocks’ as a working title, will be built as part of a luxury recreational vehicle park approved in Buckeye, Arizona. The developer, RV Park and Campground Investors LLC, has planned the park with 800 spaces to serve the growing economy of high-end motorhome and travel trailer owners who migrate south to Arizona each winter, taking advantage of the state’s ideal weather and numerous attractions. The Town of Buckeye is strategically located on routes between Southern California and Phoenix, and is a gateway between Arizona and Mexico’s northern beach destinations that have become popular among RV owners.
“Our vision for Arizona is to build a resort that can cater to the RV traveler who will stay a few days, but is also comfortable and exciting enough for those who choose to enjoy the entire winter season,” notes Rich Stockwell of RV Park and Campground Investors LLC. Annual sales of recreational vehicles in the U.S. has grown from $4 billion to $16 billion during the past 50 years, ushering in a demand for overnight parks and resorts that are just as luxurious and well appointed as the recreational vehicles being purchased. Stockwell not only creates RV resorts, but is an industry consultant who assists developers on new projects and advises to upgrade existing resorts to accommodate the modern RV requirements. Stockwell has consulted for properties across North America, including all 50 states and Canada. Much of his focus is on features that are trending among the 35-54 age group.
Managing partner of the group, Susan McKee, explains the thinking behind the approach to golf for the new development. “This younger age group is where we have seen the largest gains in RV ownership over the past decade,” she points out. “Giving them a golf experience that is high-end and also takes less time, speaks to their lifestyle and will be a prime attraction of the park.” Statistics show that the median age for RV ownership in the U.S. has been going down in the past decade, a reflection of the industry’s growth and appeal to a younger audience, including families, who are looking to explore the country without the confines and significantly higher costs of traditional hotels and resorts.
“There is a high demand for RV parks that can accommodate very large and luxurious rigs,” McKee explains. “Very often these owners have invested upwards of $400,000 in their travel homes, so the expectation is to have parks where they can stay and enjoy restaurants and amenities that match their expectations.” In addition to the 12-hole course, the project will have activities for all age groups, including innovative playgrounds, meditation trails and sit-down restaurants that have the ambiance of being in a destination resort.
Richardson was given freedom to route the course to take advantage of the site’s foothills and a dramatic rock covered mountain that flanks the northern boundary. “Sloping land is unsuitable to maneuver and park motorhomes, which was part of my learning curve,” Richardson says. “But for golf, we know that craggy rock outcroppings and desert terrain can be an incredible and dramatic adventure, especially for par-3 holes.” Drawing from his early work at Arizona Grand Resort, Lookout Mountain, and Legend Trail, his philosophy for ‘On the Rocks’ has been to create a fun course that has many of the hallmarks seen at highly ranked courses located in North Scottsdale, but will be far less intimidating. “We have holes ranging from 60-yards to 150-yards, but there will always be a gracious bail-out where you can safely play away from trouble,” he says.
Richardson’s 12-hole design takes advantage of the natural desert terrain and will preserve natural boulders, native desert washes and giant saguaro cactus. Players will have an option to end after 9-holes, or continue around the backside of the mountain to play three dramatic finishing holes. Explaining the 12-hole format, Richardson says the number of holes fit both the site and what the park will need in terms of capacity.
The entire development will embrace a policy of being eco-friendly, including having its own water treatment facility. Waste water will be processed for use on the golf course, open space areas and an equestrian area. Turf area for the golf course will be less than eight acres in total and will integrate the latest in irrigation technology in terms of sprinklers, sensors and programming. Current plans are to open the course in 2021.