In the Sonoran desert north of Scottsdale, Arizona, there is a place where the geology takes a whimsical turn as mind-boggling stacks of reddish boulders rise like spires from a colorful carpet of saguaro, creosote, mesquite and prickly pear.
Tucked amid this breathtaking landscape is the aptly named Boulders Resort, which features two golf courses, the North Course and the South Course. PutterZone.com editor Sean Weir was lucky enough to enjoy a brief getaway to the Boulders earlier this week, and here is his review of the experience:
“So there I am, teeing off on the sixth hole of the South Course beneath a massive boulder that is precariously perched atop another boulder. Should I be nervous? As a native of California—the earthquake state—I have to wonder. But apparently these boulders never move. The only thing I have to fear is the narrow fairway ahead.
The South Course is “target” golf, with little margin for error. A little push or pull can lead to big trouble, as the soft, tight fairways immediately yield to hard, prickly desert. I’ve never pretended to be anything more than an average recreational golfer, and it showed during my first round. Let’s just say I was glad I brought my Cleveland Niblick along to help me escape from the rocky hardpan. I returned for a second round the following morning. This round went much better—I was more rested, and I had a better feel for the course and the holes.
The state of the course was phenomenal—the fairways were lush, the greens manicured and the scenery spectacular. Sometimes I would just stand there, ignoring my ball and marveling at the surroundings. It’s something I’ll never forget. In terms of sheer visuals, this has to be one of the world’s most magical golf courses.
The Boulders is a place that you go to get away from it all. It takes up to 30 minutes to drive into the heart of Scottsdale. If you’re looking for a lot of adventure or excitement, you might want to stay somewhere closer to Scottsdale or Phoenix. But if you truly want to leave the world behind, to relax and restore your body and mind, then this place would be hard to beat.
The Boulders is far from boring, however.There are still plenty of things to keep you busy, such as golf, tennis, swimming, spa treatments, horseback riding and walking trails. Meanwhile, the neighboring hamlets of Carefree and Cave Creek are brimming with shops, cafes and restaurants.
My wife and I discovered two nearby wine bars that we would highly recommend. One is the relatively new Cellar 13 in Carefree. It’s a cozy little place with an upstairs bar and cellar seating below. The interior of the cellar has a bit of a retro vibe, and Sinatra is the background music of choice. The menu is small, but the food is excellent.
The other recommended wine bar is C4, which adjoins the Cave Creek Coffee Company (hence, C4). This place has a fun and funky atmosphere—their dirt path to their overflow parking lot has a sign that says “Dangerous, But Passable”—but they are dead serious in matters of food and wine. Their gourmet appetizers, salads, sandwiches and pizzas are phenomenal.
Back at the Boulders, the breakfasts at the Palo Verde restaurant were amazing. I should also mention that the Boulders staff was always friendly and ready to help, but also unobtrusive. The resort’s Golden Door Spa is a sanctuary. The massages and treatments aren’t cheap, but they are ultimately worth the splurge.
I can’t rave enough about my escape to the Boulders. My stay was short yet immensely rejuvenating, which says a lot about the place. The golf alone was worth the travel. But it’s the entire experience that makes me want to come back for more.”