Keeping Score

The Short Course at Mountain Shadows
Hole No. 11 | Par 3. [Photo: David Sansom Photography]

Location: Paradise Valley, Ariz.
Architect: Arthur Jack Snyder
Opened: 1961
Renovation: Forrest Richardson [2017]
Par: 54
Diamond — 2,310
Square — 2,065
Circle — 1,735
Saturday morning greens fee: $$ [$50-$99]
Caddie service: No
Walker friendly: Yes
Greens: Poa Trivialis


If there was an unofficial motto of The Short Course at Mountain Shadows, then it might likely be “Less Time, More Fun.” The Short Course was the final piece in the $100 million teardown-rebuild of the original luxury resort, which opened in 1960 and is located at the foot of Camelback Mountain between Phoenix and Scottsdale. Architect Jack Snyder’s 1961 original course was a par-56 layout that included two short par-4 holes.

Renovator Forrest Richardson, who worked for Snyder as a young designer, used his $3.5 million reno budget to make it a strictly par-3 course. Richardson’s big, quick, creative and challenging greens bring strategy and fun into play at every turn, making The Short Course part of the latest trend toward creating astutely-designed Par 3 courses to attract and keep more people playing golf. The Short Course enables players to get around in 2 to 3 hours. Walking is easy and encouraged, though carts are available and cart paths are continuous through the course. Hotel guests may borrow Ping clubs for free, yet 90 percent of play comes from locals. One group consists of between 40 and 100 local PGA Tour pros, mini-tour players and club pros who play every Tuesday morning and display the kind of high-level short games this course can accommodate. 

Play because ...: Regardless of golf proficiency, this course is all about fun. Holes range in length between 75 and 193 yards from the back tees. The generally large greens are welcoming to beginners, yet the greens and surrounding bunkers and water can pose a significant challenge for the better player. Good players will stand on the tee and understand that in order to make birdie their tee shot must land on the correct tier. Those with a little local knowledge — or the requisite playing experience — will see how the ball will pitch off slopes or backstops to the hole. 

Takeaway: There was a time when public Par 3 pitch ‘n putt courses featured flat greens, shallow or non-existent bunkers and overall bad conditions. In recent years, though, the well-designed Par 3 course has become something of a trend in the golf industry as it caters to a broader demographic of time-strapped 21st century folk who have neither the time or sustained interest in the crucible of 18 regulation holes. The Cradle at Pinehurst, the Sandbox at Sand Valley in Wisconsin, and Threetops in Michigan are three other examples. Of course, Augusta National has had an awesome 18-hole Par 3 course for decades, which probably means it’s about time the rest of the golf world begins appreciating the value of such layouts. Here’s one in the greater Phoenix.

THE RATINGS [1 to 10 scale; 10 being the highest]
Food | Beverage: 7.0
Pro shop: 6.0
Clubhouse: 8.0
Course difficulty: 6.0
Pace of play: 8.0


Hole No. 7 | Par 3. [Photo: Dave Sansom Photography]

THE COURSE | Scorecard
Best par 3: No. 7 [75 | 70 | 50 yards]
This is the course's shortest hole, but it's both photogenic and intimidating. The hole offers a scenic view of Piestewa Peak and is surrounded on three sides by water. The hole is named “Jutty” because the front right corner of the green juts out into the water. When the pin location is in that right corner, it taunts the better player to take a chance at birdie. The green itself has subtle slopes, giving beginning and infrequent golfers a shot at a good score.

Phone: 877.725.6029
Facebook: @mountainshadowsaz
Instagram: @mountainshadowsaz
Twitter: @MountainShadows

Rater: Barry Cronin

Fun Meter Reviews: All | 2017 | 2018 | 2019

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