by Rick Zurak
FORT MCDOWELL, Arizona – If you’re considering a vacation to Phoenix to play golf, and looking for a complete resort to stay-and-play, look no further than the brand new We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort.
We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort bills itself as “Arizona’s ultimate golf experience” and, after a wonderful and relaxing five-day stay, I will attest that is right on the money. In addition, the affordable golf packages available will add more enjoyment to your visit to the “Grand Canyon State.”
“We’ve got two terrific golf courses that are always in fantastic shape,” said Matt Barr, General Manager at We-Ko-Pa for the past 13 years. “We have a great resort, casino and a whole lot of fun to offer our guests.”
Located in Fort McDowell, just 20 miles from the Phoenix airport, We-Ko-Pa not only has two award-winning golf courses, but there’s a new 246-room hotel, spa, sports bar featuring a monster screen divided into every game you’ll ever want to watch, and of course, a sports book to wager to your heart’s desire.
Since Arizona climate provides over 300 days of sunshine, We-Ko-Pa offers two swimming pools with hot tubs. Luxury dining, casual dining, a piano bar, wine cellar, live entertainment and even a cowboy experience featuring horseback riding is another attractive option.
The first-floor casino features high-end slot machines, tabletop gaming including a 10-table poker room and a state-of-the-art Bingo hall.
Having said all that, the marque attraction for me visiting We-Ko-Pa is for the golf.
“We have two distinct golf courses,” said Barr. “Two different designers. You get different views of the mountains from each golf course and its quintessential Arizona golf. We have a terrific staff that has been here for a while and we have guests that return here year-after-year because it’s a great atmosphere, a terrific value and a fun place to be.”
The two courses are Cholla and Saguaro. What they have in common is they are both meticulously maintained, offering a tranquil golf experience free of houses and roads. Expect picture-postcard scenery of mountain ranges in the distance as you maneuver around the property and neighboring Sonoran desert.
We-Ko-Pa will provide you with a peaceful easy feeling, since it’s just you and the serenity of nature, as well as amazing and engaging golf holes.
The Cholla course, designed by architect Scott Miller, features a good mix of doglegs and straightaway holes. If you want the ultimate challenge of desert golf, play Cholla from tips at 7,225-yards with a rating of 73.4 and slope of 138. Mere mortals can enjoy a wonderful day on the course at anyone of the four tee boxes, including moving up to 5,289-yard layout.
The Saguaro course, my favorite, is named after the Saguaro cactus that infiltrate the Arizona desert, and was designed in 2011 by the highly-respected team of Coore and Crenshaw, consisting of Bill Coore and two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw.
The design is not commonly found in the Southwest desert. The greens are close to the tees and the course follows the natural movement of the land making walking easy and enjoyable. The majority of the greens are open in front to allow for run up shots. There is a subtle pitch-and-roll of the terrain on approach shots to the green that give each hole unique character.
Another nice feature at We-Ko-Pa is one-stop shopping. Once you arrive on property there is no need to drive your rental car again until it’s time to return to the Sky Harbor International airport.
If you have a group or family vacation planned, We-Ko-Pa will accommodate with “Golf Suites” that comfortably sleep 4-5 in two deluxe queen rooms connected to by a living room with a pullout sofa and kitchen. It is the ideal lounging area to relax, snack, drink and watch sports after a great day on the links, at the pool, in the casino, Spa, or all the above.
Enjoy We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort, I sure did and can’t wait to go back!
(Rick Zurak, a New York-based golf entrepreneur, is a golf writer, golf content creator and golf video savant. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)