Desert Highlands Golf Club
Desert Highlands Golf Club boasts famous players such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tom Watson and the club's course is even a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course. That being said, the club is highly exclusive, there have even been rumors of famous golfers being turned down for play. The challenging course has a target-style design and a desert landscape, which can prove to be quite hazardous around the fairways. The greens are large and undulating. There are large bunkers present throughout as well as water hazards that come into play on a few holes. In addition to the Jack Nicklaus-designed course, Desert Highlands Golf Club also offers a putting course.
|Watson (W)||72||5815 yards||73.4||135|
|Back Combo (W)||72||5602 yards||72.9||131|
|Middle (W)||72||5384 yards||71.7||129|
|Front Combo (W)||72||5207 yards||71.2||124|
|Front (W)||72||4933 yards||70.2||121|
|Nicklaus M: 74.0/150||350||580||450||205||419||428||188||444||565||3629||406||563||173||394||418||146||242||574||563||3479||7108|
|Highlands M: 73.5/146||350||513||450||205||399||428||176||444||565||3530||406||546||162||378||418||138||242||574||563||3427||6957|
|Palmer M: 72.4/140||333||513||407||176||399||412||176||436||558||3410||400||546||162||378||397||138||220||568||521||3330||6740|
|Member M: 71.3/136||333||513||398||168||388||412||132||403||558||3305||358||534||148||378||388||138||194||568||521||3227||6532|
|Player M: 70.4/132||312||500||398||168||388||372||132||403||519||3192||358||534||148||343||388||130||194||530||486||3111||6303|
|Gentlemen M: 69.0/128||312||500||368||168||368||343||132||403||475||3069||294||504||148||327||369||130||194||491||486||2943||6012|
|Watson M: 67.9/126 W: 73.4/135||280||480||368||145||368||343||118||379||475||2956||294||504||131||327||369||120||179||491||444||2859||5815|
|Back Combo W: 72.9/131||280||480||368||129||368||327||118||337||440||2847||294||457||131||278||369||120||171||491||444||2755||5602|
|Middle W: 71.7/129||278||407||358||129||356||327||101||337||440||2733||274||457||121||278||340||103||171||471||436||2651||5384|
|Front Combo W: 71.2/124||278||394||336||129||356||285||101||332||435||2646||274||450||121||278||298||103||147||454||436||2561||5207|
|Front W: 70.2/121||211||394||336||119||333||285||82||332||435||2527||248||450||105||203||298||91||147||454||410||2406||4933|
Improving greens on Arizona's best layout
This is a follow up review from the comments I left a few years ago. At the time of the previous review, DH was nearly unplayable - the greens were rock hard and completely unreceptive. I'm happy to say that the situation is now vastly improved. This year (2018) the greens are very soft and hold well-struck shots without a problem. I'd prefer bent grass to the hybrid they have, but I don't think the club has the cojones to admit they made a mistake and redo the greens, now that they are receptive. I've upgraded course conditions to "5 stars" now that the greens are playable.
Some more comments. As a low handicapper (2.5 index), I love the course layout. It's extremely challenging from tee to green, and requires a "risk-reward" decision on nearly every hole. Overall, however, this course is too difficult for the average golfer, or even the better than average golfer. It's designed for pros and low single digit players.
Also, I note that I mentioned the peer courses in the area. I would put on this list a couple of the Desert Mountain courses (including Outlaw), Troon private, Estancia, and the upper course at Whisper Rock. Desert Forest is a notch or two below these others from a course design perspective.
There are a couple points of note in the course description. First off, it mentions water features. There is no water on the course at all (luckily!). Also, it mentions the putting course. It's really great, make sure you set aside an hour when you visit Desert Highlands.
Arizona's best course ruined by terrible greens
I've played Desert Highlands a number of times since the 90s. I have relatives that bring me as a guest. Back in those days, the course was perfect- certainly the best in AZ and one of the best in the US. It has incredible routing- unique holes that make you consider every shot. You need to bring your best game to DH, as there are no easy holes. Nicklaus should be (and probably is) proud of how well he capitalized on a perfect piece of golf real estate.
Here's the issue- some dozen+ years ago they changed the greens from a bent surface to a hybrid grass. The biggest problem is these surfaces won't hold well-hit shots... they are so unreceptive, even after years. Additionally, the greens are inconsistent and don't roll true. And cosmetically they look awful. Having played almost every private club in AZ, I would rank the quality of the greens last among peer clubs. They are THAT BAD.
It is such a massive shame too... the layout kills every other course in the area. Estancia, Troon, Desert Forest, Whisper Rock- all of these can't touch DH from a layout perspective, but every single one has far better greens.
Earlier this year I sat with some of the other top golfers in the club in the men's grill... they mentioned severe management issues (staff and board). It's too bad, because the club is great other than one major, major flaw.