We-Ko-Pa Resort - Cholla Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.6

Golf - Resort Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Fort McDowell, AZ
· Stay & Play

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We-Ko-Pa Resort - Cholla Course Review

Review and Rating of We-Ko-Pa Cholla Course in Scottsdale AZ

We-Ko-Pa is home to a resort with great golfer accommodations, a casino, good amenities and things to do, and two outstanding golf courses - the Cholla 18 and the Sonoran 18.  Both courses define desert golf - no home, condos, or high rises - it's just you and the wildlife, the wide variety of cactus, and the Sonoran Desert where the term high rise is high-rise” is either used to describe the ancient saguaros in the foreground or the magnificent mountains in the distance.  The variety in the routing and pacing of holes will keep all levels of golfers entertained from opening tee shot to final tap-in. Both courses, Cholla and Saguaro, feature an ideal blend of doglegs and straightaway holes, a mix of slender and ample fairways, and a balance between benign and rugged green complexes. Both courses offer a host of shot-making options and plenty of grassy bail-out areas when the occasional shot gets away.

Saguaro has a desert links feel to it, more gradual elevation changes, and you can play multiple shots into the greens including bump and run.  When Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw designed Saguaro they placed great emphasis on making Saguaro walker-friendly - greens and tees are built close together, often part of the same turf complex and walk paths lead you from the teeing ground directly to the fairway. Cholla is an outstanding desert course with elevated challenging greens, lots of forced carries, and a couple strokes harder than Saguaro. 

It's not surprising that We-Ko-Pa Golf Club has won a number of awards and accolades, some of which include:

  • Sports Illustrated  claimed them as one of the “10 best new public courses in the world” shortly after opening
  • a Zagat Survey gave Cholla its highest rating among all Arizona courses
  • Golf Magazine listed it as No. 45 in its ranking of the “Top 100 You Can Play” for 2014
  • in 2015, Golfweek bestowed Cholla with three prestigious rankings: 13th “Best Casino Courses” in the U.S.; 4 “Best Courses You Can Play” in Arizona; and No. 70 on the list of America’s “Best Resort Courses”

We've played and reviewed over 350 courses from Florida to California and only 3 courses have scored a 10 - the front nine of Cholla is one of those.  Almost every hole on the front got a "Wow" or a "that was fun" or some other accolade.  Each hole on the front was fun, challenging, scenic, and unique.  And the was just about as good.  During your round you'll encounter a little of everything: forced carries off the tee (every hole on the front but not from the forward tees which makes the course very playable for women or high handicappers), heavily sloping and contoured fairways with generous landing zones off the tee, strategically placed bunkers, well guarded raised greens, several elevation changes, split fairways, dog legs left and right, blind shots, some risk reward opportunities, and several Kodak moments.  You'll find holes that require some excellent strategy, good club selection, and some precise shots.  In addition to all of that, the course is very well maintained and manicured - you won't find a pebble or cactus out of place.

Normally in our golf course reviews we would describe two to four holes that we liked.  But for Cholla, we absolutely loved every single hole!  And words can't describe how unique, beautiful, challenging, and fun they are to play.  So I'm not even going to attempt to describe any of them. 

The fairways at Cholla range from wide and sweeping to a little tight and on three holes a natural area of trees and sand split the fairway.  You'll encounter elevated tee boxes, washes and arroyos to carry, uphill and downhill shots, and in some cases severely rolling and contoured fairways.  They were in near perfect condition when we played and rough was cut thin and playable.  Miss the rough and you're in the desert sand with lots of opportunity to get stuck by a wide variety of different cactus!

The greens at Cholla were also in near perfect condition - they ran smooth and true and at a good speed of around 11.  They are a variety of shapes and most are good sized ranging from 29 to 42 yards.  Most are raised, guarded by 2 to 4 bunkers, and have some combination of slope, tiers, or ridges.

The bunkers have typical Arizona sand which we find to be gritty, thin, and a challenge to hit out off until you get used to them.  Bunkers are strategically placed in your landing zone or around the green and most are steep and deep. 

Bottom line - Cholla is a must play - add it to your bucket list and also take advantage of their stay and play package.  Read our review of We-Ko-Pa Resort to lean more.

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 7,225 73.4 138
Blue 6,436 69.4 126
White 6,114 67.5 119
Gold 6,740 70.7 133
Red 5,289 69.3 124

Course Information

Course Architect:
Scott Miller
Greens Type:
TIF 419
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Course Map
Beware of water on 1 holes and the 79 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
9.6 out of 10
Fun to Play:
Front Nine Rating:
Back Nine Rating:


Approximate Weekend
$75.00 to $235.00

Service is excellent, the 10,000 square foot club house is outstanding, the pro shop is award winning, and the practice facilities are very good.



Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.