Apache Stronghold (AZ) - Deserted Doak Doozy


This course fully closed around 10 years ago and was going back to the desert until the tribe decided to make a go of it again.

I saw the place for the first time in 2013 and again two years ago. They are making strides, but it’s hard for them. Consider that they get very little play (look at that parking lot) and what play they do get is at very low prices. They’re higher in the desert than Phoenix so it’s cooler, which is great in the summer but means it’s tough in the winter even to overseed or keep up the conditions they have, let alone fix the damaged areas.

To get there, you basically drive by every other nice course and casino in Scottsdale or the Phoenix area, so only a diehard or a local is going to be out there playing. In the sping and summer, the fairways green up and the course really gets to be in pretty good shape. They just don’t have the budget to overseed the fairways in the winter (and the course plays great dormant). One time I was there they painted the dormant turf which was weird but hey if it helps people overcome their fear of brown then whatever.

It’s a fantastic course. If it were in the same condition as any other course in Scottsdale, I’d have it as the best public course in the state. As it is, it’s a curiosity. Worth seeing, if you’re really into Tom Doak or GCA and willing to overlook some suspect conditions. It’s fun as hell to play, too, the kind of course where in 4 rounds I have and two eagles, a raft of birdies but also a bunch of doubles. It dares you to take chances and the greens can make you look brilliant or totally stupid. It’s a shame that it’s so far away and has struggled so much over it’s relatively short life.


This post is catnip. Thank you for posting it, the refuge is a better place due to your service. Looks like an awesome piece of property, despite it making my heart hurt a little bit. The Doakito deserves better.


Hearing this insight I think I’m moving up my timeline to get out there. I tire of the grind of snowbirds and five hour rounds of winter golf in Phoenix by February/March so this might just be the scratch my itch needs at that time of year. It’s super helpful knowing what to expect before going. The lack of crowds sounds invigorating.


I played Apache Stronghold in April 2005, when it was still in pretty decent condition (a little shaggy or burned out in spots, but nothing like the photos shown). I was in the process of moving from NY to San Diego, and took a minor detour on my drive through AZ to check it out. It really is a shame that it isn’t maintained at least reasonably well. The land is terrific, and the course is a lot of fun, even for those that aren’t really into the architecture. Doak definitely hasn’t batted 1.000 (despite what his biggest fans might say), but from a design perspective, this place is at least in the top half of his courses. If you can find some of the old photos, you can get a sense of how great the property is, and why it was so good.


I think if you know what to expect, you won’t be disappointed. And it’s very easy, even with the long drive, to get 36 in out there, because there’s usually no one else out on the course (my trips have been during the week and in spring so I can’t speak to weekends or times of year when the days are shorter).

I’ve never been in summer, because you can play in the Valley cheap and fast, but I had heard from others that it’s not a bad option that time of year, as well, because it’s a bit cooler due to the elevation difference.


Also around 1.5 hours from me. I’ll have to get out there some time to give it a chance. Thanks for sharing!