Ocotillo Golf Resort

March 2, 2008 3:31:00 PM PST
In a region known for arid, rocky, target desert golf, here is a course that plays to the opposite. Ocotillo Golf Resort's three nines feature a reputed twenty-seven miles of shoreline.

That water consists of shallow canals, mostly. They separate the course from some spectacular homes, winding along and across fairways that, while generous in places, provide plenty of trouble for errant shots or unfamiliar players. At Ocotillo, you can hit what seems to be a big straight drive, only to discover you and your ball separated permanently by an unseen watery hazard.

Beware, for example, unseen water at the end of the fairway when driving the 415/365/362/298, par four, 1st hole on the Gold. It's all there in the yardage book, but unseen from the tee box at 316/291/269/207 yards.

When the water is visible, and that's most of the time, this Ted Robinson course creates exciting risk/reward shots. On some holes, like the 468/400/380/309 yard, par four 9th on the Gold Course, you may want to place the ball or lay back with a fairway metal. You ball will cross two bodies of water before it lands on the green.

It is a bit overdone in some places. The 431/378/361/331 yard, par four 2nd on the Blue Course features man-made rapids just beyond the tee box. They make absolutely no strategic sense, but are nice to look at.

As an added bonus, all of that water attracts a varied multitude of birds. It's common to see residents of the nearby homes motoring through the course in electric boats. They never disturbed us, except for one guy who brought along a loud and overly territorial beagle.

But, when you look at the complete package, Ocotillo offers a fun layout and memorable 'day', as they say. This is a Troon Golf Resort, which sets a high standard for course conditions, the driving range, the service, the food, and other amenities. I've never had a bad experience at any of their facilities.

My golf balls might disagree, however.