Mountain Shadows Resort
Site: Paradise Valley, Arizona
With a remarkable desert setting at the base of Camelback Mountain, the story of the Mountain Shadows Golf Club began in 1960. World renowned golf course architect Arthur Jack Snyder (mentor to Forrest Richardson) was asked to consider designing a first class golf course at this unique and engaging site. The objective was to build a challenging yet enjoyable golf course on a piece of property half the size of a traditional golf course. Snyder responded by creating one of Golf Digests top 10 executive golf courses in the world. The total acreage was less than 40, making the course a truly unique development that was well ahead of its time.
Today we take for granted the goals of reducing water and providing a venue where golfers can spend less time depending on their schedules. At Mountain Shadows these elements were in place some 50 years before they became popular, making the resort truly ahead of its time.
In the late 1970s, modifications were made to the golf course in order to lengthen what was intended to be a short design. These modifications were done to achieve a required length threshold in order for the golf course to receive an official USGA rating. The changes to lengthen the course undercut the original design intent. The golf course continued its slow decline in the 1980s. New resorts and golf courses slowly ate away at the Resort's popularity.
The vision for transforming the golf course began by a thorough review of the original design. Golf course architect Forrest Richardson drew from his many conversations with Snyder and developed the following mission statement:
"Our work here is not solely to re-create, but to look deep into the original design. At every turn we will bring to the surface the attributes which were so amazingly innovative in the early 1960s but we will do so in a language which fits the new resort as it is to be appreciated in this new era. The job is one of balance preserving, uncovering and restoring, but at the same time adding and subtracting to fit in with the new Mountain Shadows. As the design comes to life we will continually seek the same qualities that were being created nearly 50 years ago beauty, harmony, function and innovation."
Richardson's goals for the Mountain Shadows Golf Club are grounded in his belief that golf is meant to be an enjoyable pastime. The trend toward lengthier golf courses defies land conservation, resources, and time. It is Richardson's intent to revitalize the golf course by returning it closer to the course Snyder intended.
The Revitalized Golf Course
The plan for the golf course uses the original routing of holes with selective adjustments to accommodate new advances in club and ball technology. In addition, the length of the Golf Course has been reduced, creating an all-par-3 layout. The two par-4 holes, which had become a problem with players trying to cut the corner over residential lots or hit errant driver shots, were replaced with new par-3 holes. The result is a safer and more appropriate design than the old configuration given the new course footprint and modern use.
The new Mountain Shadows measures 2,400 yards with a par of 54. A bonus hole, called the "Praying Monk", serves as "Hole 17.5" between the 17th and 18th holes. This feature is a "par-2" extra hole that players use to settle bets and put in motion the final 18th hole format. The Praying Monk is actually a 200-foot long green with undulations that set up exciting putts or bumps-and-run shots from either of two "tee" areas. The concept for the Praying Monk is to link the routing between the 17th and 18th and also create a unique extra experience for players.
Among the holes of the new course are greens that draw from such famous designs as the Double Plateau, Biarritz, Redan, Bottle, Punchbowl and Alps. The design strived for 18 different experiences, yet all linked by a common thread.
Length & Variation.
One of the primary goals of the golf course transformation is to uphold the design characteristics that lead to a fun and challenging golf experience. This goal was balanced with goals of yardage length and hole variation. The adjusted golf course plays to a par of 54 made up of par-3 holes ranging from 75 yards to 190 yards.
Variation is the key to the design. Not only do holes range in length, but also in orientation, views, relationship to prevailing winds and in strategy. Three holes play across or along water, providing an ambiance that fits the Resort's desert oasis theme. Indeed, Snyder's amazing landscape at Hole Nos. 7 through 12 will be enhanced by enhancing the ponds and streams which had become overgrown.
One of the true benefits of a course with a predominance of par threes is the emphasis on hole locations and tee variation. By increasing the size of greens, the design will allow for various cupping positions. In addition, the tee boxes are considerably larger, allowing a 10 to 20 yard variation in hole length on virtually every hole. These qualities allow the Golf Course to play differently from day to day.
The approach to renovation and remodeling of the Golf Club is one of preservation and enhancement. The proposed plan has been carefully designed to integrate with the new resort and existing residential areas. In addition, the plan preserves the ambiance and positive relationships between golf and non-golf uses. At the forefront of the design are safety, buffering and aesthetics. Most of all, the new Mountain Shadows is brought back in both spirit and function. Fully re-built to modern-day standards, the course, landscape and routing is ready for a new generation of golfers who value fun, social interaction and time spent in a new and exciting time. With all par-3 holes the fun continues, and does so over just a few hours rather than taking 4 or 5 hours from start to finish.