Monday, December 1, 2014

Desert Forest Renovation Preserves Golf Club Ranking Amongst World's Desert Courses

Following Dramatic Renovation, New Layout Features a Return to Prominence

(CAREFREE, Ariz.) – When legendary golf course architect Robert “Red” Lawrence first set eyes on the unblemished desert terrain high up in the Sonoran Foothills of Carefree, Arizona, he knew he could carve out a desert gem. A golf course, the first of its kind to be woven into entirely on desert landscape. Lawrence, who worked on fabled Merion Golf Club in the 1920’s along with historic Westchester Country Club quickly transformed the barren topography into Desert Forest Golf Club, one of the world’s elite private golf courses. And, his 1962 creation has certainly stood the test of time garnering numerous national honors.

In 2013, through enhancements Desert Forest Golf Club was able to change the golfing experience. They enlisted the services of former Coore & Crenshaw protégé, David Zinkand who masterfully constructed and successfully completed a re-design of the course in four months’ time and under the $3 million budget. Many of the golf holes were lengthened, every green was re-contoured, drainage system was improved and all the greenside bunkers were rebuilt from the original oval-shaped design, a trademark of Lawrence to a scalloped-shaped edging favored by Zinkand who had the utmost respect in working from the original course design.

“The routing and the way the course sits naturally on the contours is the genius of Desert Forest, rather than having been graded to suit preconceived notions. Leaving this landscape intact was the most important aspect of respecting Lawrence's design,” said Zinkand, a graduate of Cornell University.

What is strikingly unique about Desert Forest Golf Club is its absence of fairway bunkers and other typical golf course fixtures. Nowhere visible are out-of-bounds staking, ball washers, cart signs and the always omnipresent beverage carts. It’s golf, pure and simple.  A throwback to the days of yesteryear where it was golfer against the course and the elements and nothing else. The purity and sanctity of the sport is honored, upheld and cherished in this quaint town, about 20-30 minutes from the Scottsdale-Phoenix area, known worldwide for its exceptional array of challenging and visually mesmerizing golf courses.

“Our Club is timeless. The 250 members of the Club favor and enjoy the understated and simplistic ideals that permeate our environment. From the members to the staff and grounds crew, life at Desert Forest is everything anyone would ever want in a golf club,” said Roger Bacon, general manager of Desert Forest Golf Club.

Desert Forest Golf Club has consistently been ranked nationally for its challenging and, often times unforgiving layout. Immaculately designed fairway moundings accentuated by lightning fast greens make a sojourn around Desert Forest an exhilarating test of one’s skill, decision-making prowess and patience.

“As we worked on the fairways, I re-contoured those areas so they appear as they did naturally, before the golf course was built. These tie-ins aren't something that are readily apparent to many golfers, but removing that unnatural visual distraction enhances their experience nonetheless.”

Over the years, Zinkand has worked for numerous prominent architects, most notably Arthur Hills, Gil Hanse and Mike DeVries. It was as a Design Associate working for Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, that Zinkand contributed his finest efforts, creating feature shaping on many of their projects including Bandon Preserve and Bandon Trails in Bandon, Oregon, Saguaro course at We-Ko-Pa in Fountain Hills, Arizona along with the renovation of Lakewood Country Club in Dallas, Texas.

Of all the work completed at Desert Forest, Zinkand is especially proud of the newly-formed greenside bunkers and his newfound signature look.

“The bunker edges are rugged. In fact, they are more rugged than even my bunker shaper, Jeff Bradley, was comfortable with at times. I pushed that envelope though to emphasize the rugged, natural character of the golf course. Desert Forest was the first desert golf course in the world! This place is really in the desert! It deserved to draw from that unique heritage and environment,” added Zinkand.

Celebrating 50 years of unparalleled success in 2012, Desert Forest Golf Club moves forward after an illustrious first half century collecting accolades from Golf Magazine, “50 Greatest Courses in the Last 50 Years,” and “Top 100 Courses in the U.S.”; Golf Digest, “Best 100 Courses in America for 17 Straight Years,” among many other notable awards. And, now an alliance with Troon Golf’s Agronomy department, one of the world’s leading golf marketing and management companies, enables Desert Forest Golf Club to enter its next 50 years with an enviable position and continue to stake its claim as an iconic treasure on the world’s golf landscape.

The host site for many national junior and amateur events, Desert Forest Golf Club will be hosting the USGA Four-Ball Qualifier in March, 2015.

For more information on Desert Forest Golf Club and membership opportunities, call (480) 488-4589 or visit

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