Ocotillo golf course is a welcoming oasis in the extreme heat and desert golf of Arizona. With three nine-hole golf courses, it’s a great test of golf for any type of player.
The best part is that water comes into play on 19 of the 27 holes. You need to have your driver and approach shot game dialed in, or else scores add up quickly.
Ocotillo has changed ownership over the past few years but is now part of the Arcis program. You can play/practice at this course with an Arcis card and is open to the public as well. It’s normally very moderately priced and with an extra nine holes, usually has more tee time availability as well.
Let’s dive into the details…
Ocotillo is one of the few 27-hole golf courses in Arizona and each of the nines has plenty of character. It’s located in Chandler, Arizona and only about 20 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor airport and 20-35 minutes from Scottsdale, depending on where you’re staying. The course also received the Golf Digest 4 ½ Star Best Places to Play Award.
You never know which two courses they will combine on a given day but all of them are quality golf courses. Here is a quick recap of each of the nine holes:
- Blue Course: I would say this is my favorite of the three courses with water coming into play on 8 of the 9 holes. Plus, two good par 5’s that are the epitome of risk-reward holes. This course is 3,497 yards and a par 36.
- Gold Course: The gold course is similar to the blue course with tons of water and two reachable par 5s. It’s the longest of the three courses at 3,545 yards from the tips and also a par 36.
- White Course: The white course is the only par 35 of the three courses but has two signature holes and some incredible houses as well. It’s the shortest course at 3,285 yards from the tips.
The initial impression of Ocotillo is a very favorable one with a stunning view as soon as you arrive. When you turn into the facility, you have a long drive down a hole with water the entire left side of the hole and a waterfall by the green. The road has huge palm trees and it feels like you’re in Florida – no cactus or desert in sight.
The clubhouse is good-sized and the views from the putting green and outdoor restaurant are amazing. You can see tons of different holes, waterfalls, ponds, paddle boats, and amazing houses from the first to the last hole. Water is the theme at Ocotillo so make sure to bring some extra golf balls as these ponds are so deep you will never find a golf ball if it gets wet.
The driving range is okay, nothing spectacular but decent enough for a good warm up. They have grass and turf with tons of targets to aim at but it’s a little close to the first tee on the white and blue course which is distracting.
The endless water features make for some great holes at Ocotillo. Here are some of the most memorable holes on each of the three nines.
While they don’t have the tees back often, if they do, this is the best of the 27 holes.
The back tees are nearly on the putting green and only 20 feet or so from the restaurant. It’s an intimidating tee shot with so much commotion and the second shot is entirely over water too.
Going for the green in two is a risk but usually worth it. Just make sure to club up as the hole plays about 8-10 yards uphill. Miss left as it’s an easy chip to hopefully start the round off with an early birdie.
There are deep bunkers right and OB is way right but still in play. While the fairway slopes left directly into the water, a perfect drive is needed. Aim to the left of the bunkers and swing hard!
Also, the green has a hidden back ridge that you can’t see from the fairway. If the pin is tucked back there, hit your approach in the middle and the contours will do the work and get it close to the pin. If you play the hole in three shots, just know there is water long that you can’t see on your approach shot too.
The 8th hole is a gorgeous hole with beautiful houses and water to the right and fairway bunkers left. Hitting a good drive that is dry is key because if you hit in the bunkers your approach shot is over water – not an easy shot for most players. Par is a good score even if it’s not the longest hole on the card.
This is the hardest hole on the gold course and the hardest par three at Ocotillo. Water is left, but a big bunker might save your golf ball, although it’s not an easy sand save as the trap is well below the green.
The green has two tiers and wouldn’t recommend aiming for a back pin. The middle of the green is great and if you need to miss, the right side isn’t too bad. A bogey here won’t kill your round and a par 5 is the next hole so you should be able to get a stroke back.
The other par three on the gold course is also a good challenge with water looming short – a common theme at Ocotillo. The green is huge with a big back to front slope and a two-putt is no guarantee. Club up on the tee shots as I’ve found it plays 5-7 yards longer than the scorecard.
The closing hole on the gold course is a great finisher and if you make a birdie, it’s well-earned. The tee shot is challenging with two bunkers on either side of the fairway and if you hit your drive too far, it could get wet. Finding the short grass is key to hitting the uphill approach shot.
I’ve found the best play is to go down the first hole fairway as it gives you a better look at the green and takes water out of play. The green plays uphill and has a slope on the front that you need to carry. There’s also a back pin that’s nearly impossible to get close too – middle green is never going to hurt you here.
The white course only has one par five and it’s not an easy one by any means. From the tips, it requires a 280 yard drive that is dead straight to carry the water. If you miss it right, you’re wet and need to drop way back which will leave 280 yards to the green.
For most players, it’s a three shot hole. For your approach shot, make sure to check the pin as the green is enormous and there is a lower ridge short and right. Short is a good miss and should leave you an easy up and down.
This is the signature hole that you see while driving into the facility. Water is left and comes into play about 80 yards short of the green. Going for the green is nearly impossible (trust me, I’ve tried) and usually just a layup and wedge shot.
Watch out on your approach as it can spin too much and suck back nearly into the water (or against the boards). Try to flight a wedge down so it doesn’t spin too much as the green slopes hard from back to front.
The white course has the best closing hole of the three nines at Ocotillo. It’s a long hole from any tee box and the second shot is all carry over water. Plus, a three tiered green to make things even more challenging.
You want to keep your drive on the left side of the fairway to avoid water that you can’t see and comes in on the right side of your drive if you push it. The left side also gives you the best angle for the hardest second shot on the golf course.
For your approach, make sure to club up and aim for the middle of the green. If the pin is back right, don’t try to attack it as missing long leaves an impossible chip and invites a late round double bogey (sadly, I know from experience).
I’ve had the privilege of playing this golf course for 17 years and have a lot of great memories at Ocotillo. They have a monthly 2-man scramble where you need to shoot about 56 or so to win and we’ve made it happen a few times. This course also hosts the Chandler City Championship in June each year and when the wind picks up, it’s a solid test of golf.
But the last time I played, I hit one of the best drives ever on the par 5-second hole on the white course. I absolutely bombed my drive dead straight to make the 280 carry, despite OB left and water right. This drive left me a 190 into the green where I stuffed a 6-iron close and drained the 15-foot eagle putt.
Ocotillo is a great place to play and rate it an 8.5 out of 10.
The layout itself is a 10/10 – the only reason I’m scoring it less than that is because the conditions vary. Sometimes the greens are pretty slow and not always in the best shape in the summer. Plus, a lot of the bunkers are more like concrete than sand – unfortunately this happens too often in Arizona.
But for the price, it’s hard to beat especially during peak season where it’s substantially less than similar courses. Plus, 27 holes makes it interesting and sometimes they run specials to play all three nines in one day. I’d also suggest having a meal at the outdoor restaurant as you can watch golfers tee off and have great views from the patio.
What’s In the Bag
- Driver = Callaway Triple Diamond Rogue ST Max 9.0 – adjusted to 10.0 with “D” setting with Project X HZRDUS Smoke 70 gram shaft (X-Flex)
- 3-Wood = Callaway Mavrik Subzero 15 degrees with 80 gram Project X HZRDUS Smoke 80 gram shaft (X-Flex)
- Hybrid = Titleist TSi3 with Project X HZRDUS Smoke 90 gram shaft (X-Flex)
- Utility iron = Titleist U500 4 Iron (23 degrees) with Project X HZRDUS Smoke 100 gram shaft (X-Flex)
- Irons = Callaway Apex TCB 5-AW with 115 gram Project X IO shafts (X-Flex)
- Wedges = Titleist Vokey SM8 (56.10 & 62.8)
- Putter = PXG Operator
- Ball = Titleist Pro V1X
Should You Play Ocotillo Golf Course?
Yes, you definitely should play this course.
What I love about this track is that it doesn’t feel like you’re in Arizona – it feels more like a tropical vacation. With endless ponds, waterfalls, and every house has their own boat on their private pond, it’s a pretty cool scene. Anytime I have friends or family in town, I always bring them here for the challenge and amazing views.
Plus, the holes themselves are challenging with endless water hazards. Not one of the 27 holes is silly or blah either – just quality golf that rewards accuracy and distance control. If you keep it out of the water, you can score well and should have a great time in Chandler, Arizona.
If possible, request the gold to blue or blue to white course rotation as you’ll have strong opening and closing holes.
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