Cave Creek Golf Course

Reviewed By: Andy n Leslie
For starters this is not in Scottsdale. It is West Valley and a fairly easy drive though, so it gets reviewed. The majority of the courses reviewed are public courses, but not necessarily municipal courses, and maybe that is the big problem with Cave Creek. As you roll into the property it is not obvious where you go. The pro shop site is up on a hill well past the parking lot. The parking was overflowing and much of that may have been that they do have a large driving range that most likely brings in lots of additional traffic, beyond the slated tee times.

Check-in was easy and the people working the desk were friendly. The carts were gas, and in good running order. I needed some direction to find hole number one because it starts back next to the parking lot and was not visually obvious. They did have a starter and he was also friendly and seemed to keep the golfers on track.

Scenery: We don't blame many scenery elements on people, but in the case of Cave Creek it is people created scenery that distracts from the beauty (if any). There is a long ravine that runs through the course. It seems heavily trafficked by a small transient or homeless population. It would seem that the course bears no responsibility for keeping the ravine clean because it is thoroughly littered and even burned in a few areas (It looks as though there may have been a brush fire). I ventured in to find a ball or two and it is fairly wide open. A weekend or two of all hands on deck maintenance could clean up a lot of the larger garbage pieces that really uglify the place. It also does not help that the cart paths turn to dirt next to the ravine and in some cases (with no clear path) the entire area has become grassless and dirt. One thing we did enjoy about the scenery is that the ponds all have crystal clear water. By far the clearest water I have seen at any Valley golf course. There were a large variety of fish, turtles, ducks and geese and few golf balls. The lack of golf balls goes hand in hand with the clean water I assume. If you can see the ball, you can fetch the ball. The ponds were not more than a few feet deep at most.

Service: No complaints here. The staff in the pro-shop, the starter and the beer gal were all friendly and helpful. A bag drop would be nice (even without an attendant) just because the parking is a ways out. I did take the cart to my car after my round, so that was a plus.

Variation: This was the strong point of Cave Creek (sadly a five out of ten). The holes were wide and tree lined. Many of the fairways had subtle dog legs and even some elevation changes midway to obscure a direct view to the green. On the back 9 there were a number of holes where water came into play and if you did not drive ahead to peek, you could easily hit a seemingly tremendous drive only to find it residing next to a fat carp. Some of the larger trees also came into play, which required some smart shot planning, especially if there was a layup required. There is a small amount of elevation change through the course and the giant ravine does create some hole separation. A few of the holes have adjacent fairways, which helps when you have a case of the shanks.

Maintenance: This course will leave the mind bewildered. The cart paths start off as concrete, then turn to gravel, then dirt, back to concrete, back to dirt and in some cases drive straight into the bushes and dead end. Leslie and I discussed maybe they began development, and someone embezzled half their money, so they just gave up on creating the paths. (This is merely speculation, of course.) The paths that were there were mostly beat to all hell and made for a really rough tour. The course itself was a bit better which improved the maintenance score. The variety of grasses certainly appeared unintentional, but the fairways were green and the putting surface was smooth and fast. There was no "rough" for the most part because the grass off of the main fairway was browned, dry and thin. This made gameplay a bit easier, but a bit of an eyesore. If you need restrooms there are porta potties in at least two locations. These are shared with the local inhabitants so I did not venture to review. There are also bathrooms by the pro shop and they are, just okay. Note that the course was build on top of a city dump, so at least the majority of the garbage is out of sight.

Value: At $68 (including a GolfNow fee which I probably could have avoided) it was a bit steep. We are just past the peak season, but rates are still pretty high across the valley. For a 1pm start time, I would say this was a bit high for the quality of course. I mention the time because if our round ran long we would have been playing at dusk. We did finish in 4 hours, which was great, but I cannot guarantee that as a consistent pace of play.

In summary, I would love to see the city invest in Cave Creek. The course design has potential to be top notch. Some money spent on cart paths, litter removal, and some updating to the entrance would go a long way. Maybe a second permanent bathroom facility along the course (use changing door codes to keep out non-golf course users) and get that drink gal a cart with an awning!