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Desert Highlands in Arizona plans major Nicklaus Design renovation

Desert Highlands in Arizona plans major Nicklaus Design renovation

Desert Highlands in Scottsdale, Arizona, has planned a renovation to its Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course next year, with work to include everything from greens to bunkers.

Opened in 1983, Desert Highlands was the home to the first two Skins Games in 1983 and 1984. The layout is ranked by Golfweek’s Best as the No. 8 private course in Arizona and ties for No. 143 on the list of top modern courses in the U.S.

Next year’s renovation will be spearheaded by Nicklaus Design and will focus on six main areas: design enhancements to several holes, rebuilding all the greens, tee reconstruction, bunker reconstruction, vegetation management (especially removing overgrown obstacles) in the desert areas and the restoration of turf on tees, fairways and rough. Plans are for work to start in April and finish by November 2025.

“The plans Nicklaus Design has for Desert Highlands are nothing short of compelling,” general manager Desi Speh said in a media release announcing the plans. “This renovation project will not only further solidify Desert Highlands as one of the state’s most sought-after golf experiences, but also enhance the aesthetic appeal of our community. We have every degree of confidence Nicklaus Design will return our golf course to its purest form, while maintaining the quality and status that has been a standard bearer in the North Scottsdale area for over 40 years.”

No. 11 at Desert Highlands in Arizona (Courtesy of Desert Highlands)

 The media release spelled out changes to several holes:

  • A new forward tee box on No. 5 will allow players an easier opportunity to cross the wash in front of the putting surface in two shots.
  • Nicklaus advised changing the eighth green complex to better see the putting surface from the landing area. The green will be rotated more perpendicular to the line of play and sloped more from back to front to open the views. The mounding will be brought closer to the right and back of the green to allow some shots to bounce onto the putting surface.
  • New tee boxes will be created on the 10th hole to move players away from the back of the range and to accommodate possible practice-area expansion.
  • A high ridge blinding the alternate fairway will be eliminated on No. 13, creating a slightly longer carry and riskier drivable par 4. Plans also could include relocating the forward tee or building a new one.
  • A few saguaro cacti will be relocated on the finishing hole, as they set up in front of two tee boxes. An…


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