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Desert Forest Golf Club opened in 1962 and remains a true golfer’s club. There is no pool, the conditioning is firm and fast and so is the pace of play. Designer Red Lawrence’s minimalist layout is worthy of its acclaim as one of the finest courses in the Southwest United States with naturally undulating fairways tiptoeing through rugged desert terrain. However, modern maintenance expectations combined with years of organic build-up left the soil profiles wanting. Concern over turf quality on the native push-up greens forced the Club to seek an architect. This began to compromise the pleasure and financial security the Membership had long garnered from their course.

After a diligent selection process by the Architecture Committee and Board, Zinkand Golf Design was chosen to develop a five-year masterplan. Historical evidence was collected on the original layout and the existing infrastructure, features and conditions were scrutinized. Addressing the long-term viability of the Club by remedying the putting surfaces and optimizing the overall experience for the future became the priorities. Already providing agronomic services to the Club, Troon Management recommended a California-style green profile as the long-term solution for the greens. In addition to rebuilding the greens, Desert Forest’s bunkers, approaches, as well as many fairways, tees and native areas were also slated for improvement. It became apparent to the Board that implementing Zinkand Golf Design’s Masterplan in one fell swoop would be more economical than a five year installation and provide the most benefit towards the longevity of the Club. As such, a financing strategy was organized, Membership was given full access to the design proposal and several Q&A sessions were held leading to a 179-4 vote of approval.

During construction, ZGD provided design oversight and shaping, with Landscapes Unlimited handling duties as the contractor and Superintendent Todd Storm offering additional labor, supervision and native revegetation of the desert. David personally shaped the greens, dramatically increasing their pinable area and variety, while retaining the best strategic elements. Bunkers were given a rugged, meandering aesthetic using a thick, turfed lip and undulating lines to highlight the naturally contoured fairways and native desert. Approaches and fairways were massaged where strategy and character could be improved. Tees were added, extended and even shortened to enhance the layout, as well as the short green to tee walks of Lawrence’s elegant routing. Desert Forest Golf Club aggressively addressed their goals of providing the best greens and playing experience possible, along with securing the long-term viability of the Club. Members are now enjoying the benefits of Zinkand Golf Design’s sympathetic renovation – a project carried out on time and under budget. The results, by all indications, should ensure the vitality of Desert Forest Golf Club for decades to come.


Desert Forest Golf Club . Carefree . Arizona

Images By

Tony Roberts