Orange Tree: Scottsdale, Arizona Course Review
09 Dec 2014
see also: The Orange Tree Golf Resort, All Course Reviews

The view from behind the 9th green<br>Jason Skoda photo
The view from behind the 9th green
Jason Skoda photo
by Jason Skoda, AmateurGolf.com Player Staff

It’s clear what course designer Johnny Bulla had in mind when designing the Orange Tree Golf Resort. (More on Bulla, the former PGA Tour player who lived his later years in Arizona, later.)

Lots of hazards, mostly of the bunker variety, and a terrific closing hole, which combines to make Orange Tree one of the most affordable and yet challenging courses in the Scottsdale area. The tree- lined course, which winds through the resort complex and the local area, is a nice break from the desert courses that define golf in the Valley of the Sun.

It tips out at 6,775 yards, and it sand plays such a big part in the layout that it Seems like every hole has at least four bunkers. There is a good chance wayward shots are going to find the sand some way or another.

The 15th hole is the epitome of the struggles all that sand can cause. (But this doesn't apply to you, the down the middle and on the green player!) The 188-yard shot from the tips is going to be trouble if the ball isn’t hit flush. There is a bunker in front of the green and one flanking each side. It’s one of those holes where if a soft touch isn’t used on the first bunker shot it could very well roll into another.

Another challenge on the course is the thick, unforgiving rough that flanks the fairways. It tends to catch the club on any shot that isn’t quick to the ball. But if you're having trouble finding the fairway don't worry -- Orange Tree has a solid range area and has a John Jacobs school on site.

The tree-lined fairways make for some gorgeous views off the tee, but if you wind up blocked it's better to punch out and take your medicine than try your luck at the heroic shot.

The payoff for your day at Orange Tree is the gorgeous 403-yard, 18th hole that feeds to a small green that is surrounded by water and cattails. It’s the signature hole that has Bulla’s name written all over it.


Johnny Bulla, who passed away in 2011 at age 89, never won a major on the PGA Tour. But he was runner-up four times, twice behind his friend Sam Snead. Today's pros have a few things to thank Bulla for. He popularized getting to tournaments by air, after gaining his pilot's license and pitching in with several pros to purchase a military transport plane. And he was the first to endorse off-course sold golf equipment, something that the PGA didn't take well to at the time, threatening to kick him out before Sam Snead came to his defense. As a matter of fact, he won his only title at the Los Angeles Open playing a discount golf ball that could be purchased for 25 cents.

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