Reviewed by: sixpez, Rancho Mirage
While at Verrado for the first time, of course I was going to play all 36! I had a 10:42 tee time on the now-known-as Founders Course. Check in was a little confusing because they put me with a group of 7 and I was getting shuffled around from cart to cart on the driving range and first tee. Eventually, we figured it out and my group went off first at about 10:30. They started us on the back nine for some reason yesterday. Very busy out there, so total pace right at 4.5 hours. Price was $58 (plus tax, d%mn you AZ!).
Depending on how you look at things, Founders was either in better or worse shape than Victory. It certainly didn’t look quite as pretty as some of the grass is getting lighter and more dappled in color as they start to get ready for the summer transition. However, the playability overall is much better here because it’s not brand new turf. The tee boxes were great. The fairways were softer and fluffier, so they were really nice to hit from while still providing adequate roll-out. The rough on Founders was the cut-down semi-dormant bermuda like on the back nine at Victory. I was in one bunker and it was very nice. The greens here were also quite firm, but much, much more receptive on well-struck approaches and chips. The greens showed signs of a recent aeration (maybe 3 weeks ago), but putts were not affected at all. They were rolling well at medium speeds.
I really wanted to love the Founders Course. I ended up liking it. It has all the elements working for it. Great desert setting, plenty of good elevation changes, challenging enough design, good facilities, etc. I think it’s just that it has such a familiar feel. I’d have a hard time picking it out of a line up with many other similar modern AZ “deserdential” (desert + residential) community courses. It’s very enjoyable on all levels, but won’t jump out too much from the crowd of great courses in the area. I’d easily give it my recommendation, though, especially at a $58 price tag. It’s a good representative for the west side of the valley!
Reviewed by: sixpez, Rancho Mirage
I took advantage the early preview available at The Victory Course yesterday. You can see UNCLEDDBOY23’s review for some details about the new course. The price was $89, but did include a bounce back voucher to come back and play either Verrado course in December for just $25. By then, The Victory Course, clubhouse, etc. should have a more “complete” feel, though I expect home construction around the course to be going on for awhile. I booked a 6:30 time through their site and was paired with three resident-members, who gave me a lot of insight and advice. One guy left after nine and we finished all 18 in about 3.5 hours. Temp pro shop, but nice grass driving range and circular practice green (reminiscent of Robinson Ranch’s in its heyday). Plenty of drinking water stations on course and saw cart girl a couple times.
Conditions are a little tricky being that it is a brand new course and the turf has a lot of maturing to do. Also, it plays a little differently on the back nine than the front because most of the back nine holes were built earlier as they were selling the first houses. Tee boxes had good grass throughout, but the ground was very hard underneath. Very difficult to get tees in the ground. The fairways were also firm underneath, which provided a lot of roll-out. However, the grass on top was lush, green and great to hit from. The rough on the front nine was overseeded, so it is lush and green. Cut low and easy to play from, though. Most of the back nine rough was not overseeded, so it is more of a semi-dormant look. Really shaved down and easy to play from. I wasn’t in any bunkers, but they appeared to be decent.
The greens are tough because they are really, really firm (again a little more matured on the older back nine holes, but still very firm). Approach shots and chips were really tough to hold. However, they were slow-ish on putts and speeds were also inconsistent at times. Basically, it’s a new course and the greens will take awhile to mature. All in all, they were well-kept and will only get nicer with time, so I will give the greens a pass for now.
Victory is a very different course than the Founders/Raven/original course at Verrado. I like that the two courses offer something different from one another. Overall, it’s a flatter courses with only some minor changes in elevation throughout. However, it has a lot of character with ample undulation in fairways and greens, unique boulder outcroppings brought into play and some links elements worked in. Very wide/forgiving fairways and huge greens that reward local knowledge and strategy (especially when playing so firm). A number of short risk/reward par-4s. Unfortunately, I thought the par-3s were all kind of bland and underwhelming given the landscape. 18th is a sweet par-5 finisher! I enjoyed Victory overall, but wasn’t as blown away as I wanted to be. I think it will continue to get better with time (much of front nine is a construction war zone right now) and it is worth checking out. Something a little different in the middle range of AZ course, and a welcome addition to the rather small list of courses on the far west side of the valley. I look forward to seeing it evolve in the next few years. It was fun to play a new course/site that is still in a fairly raw state.
Pix coming soon!