In the Yavapai native language We-Ko-Pa means “four peaks,” and is a reference to the prominment mountain landmark on the eastern skyline of Phoenix that rises to more than 7,000 feet. In golf language, We-Ko-Pa refers to two outstanding courses and a casino-resort on the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation about 33 miles to the southwest.
Their popularity stems from the combination of solid golf course design surrounded by nothing but Sonoran Desert. Fifteen years ago this month, the first course, Cholla by Nicklaus-disciple Scott Miller, opened to rave reviews. Five years later, Saguaro, a Coore-Crenshaw design, drew even more raves. But after a $1.8 million renovation this summer, Cholla reopened at the end of October to reclaim its peak status, you might say.
The club expanded all 18 greens to their original size and regrassed them with a MiniVerde variety of Ultra Dwarf. It also redid all the bunkers and the irrigation system, which, combined with the removal of seven acres of turf, will save more than 12 million gallons of water a year.
“The Cholla renovation is an example of investment in the We-Ko-Pa experience,” said Owen Doka, assistant general manager of We-Ko-Pa Golf Club and former Tribal Councilmember of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. “Last year we made a number of enhancements to the clubhouse, as well as new cart paths on Saguaro. This year it was Cholla’s turn. We’re very proud of the honors Cholla has received in the past 15 years, and we’re committed to doing what it takes to maintain and improve the overall experience for our guests.”