Whether it’s a 9-hole Par 3, an 18-hole championship layout, a 36-hole resort facility or a municipally owned and managed course like The Links at Coyote Wash, golf courses have one thing in common. They provide an environment and venue to play and enjoy the great game of golf. Each one serves a purpose and is frequented by various types of golfing clients.
For many, their choice of golf courses to play is dictated by accessibility and cost. It’s obvious cost is a major factor with the popularity of the numerous discount golf fees available through the likes Golf Now, Teeoff.com and what will soon come to be numerous other internet driven applications.
This brings us to The Links at Coyote Wash which was for many years a very plain and simple 9-hole course located in Wellton, AZ about 30 minutes from Yuma along I-8. It’s what is commonly known as a “muni” and there are thousands of them in the US and Canada. They dance to the beat of a civic budget and often answer to more than one department of any municipality. Money is usually tight and any that is provided must be allocated properly or as I have seen often if the golf course is at not at least breaking even the land is sold and it’s is soon to be the next big box retailer in your town or city.
Coyote Wash opened a second nine in 2005 designed by the very capable and well-known team at Gary Panks Golf Design. Obviously, a few years in the making from inception to completion adding nine more holes in an area which doesn’t have a major population base is a bit of gamble, but build it and they will come. With Yuma and its thousands of fellow snowbird Canadians and Americans, the course has enough of a population base to easily sustain itself. The new nine is actually 9 new holes, holes 7 – 15.
After playing the first 6 holes, which most would admit aren’t going to keep you up at night trembling the day before tee off, the course changes dramatically. The Par 5 7th is a great, long hole with a slightly elevated green. Then following on from there you can see the money was well spent as Gary Panks carved out 8 more great looking holes returning you to the final 3 holes which were the old 7, 8 and 9.
11 is a solid 400 yard straight away Par 4 with a mountain backdrop to rival Palm Springs, CA. The 13th is a great 160-yard par 3 framed by two bunkers and sits nicely on the desert floor.
When you read about coming to this part of southern, and I mean really southern Arizona, it’s always noted about the incredible amount of sunshine it receives; 350 days a year. It’s basically one of the driest places on the planet which leaves a whopping 15 days for mother nature to say, “Hello ground, a little thirsty?”. Well “Mom”, could you up it to 30 or 40 days please? But therein lays the dilemma, Yuma is full of older retired folk with stiff joints and sore bodies and what makes those feel better is dry, hot weather. If it was as simple as ordering more rain than you’d have less people, spending less money and ultimately playing less golf.
I owe it to the readers of my reviews as well as the operators of the courses reviewed to continue being honest. Are you going to plan your holiday around making the Links at Coyote Wash a golfing destination? Probably not. Are you likely to see the next pro event held here? Again, not likely. If you ask the powers that be at the Wellton town office if that is their goal the only way they would say yes is if they were entering the “World Sarcastic Championships”.
There is no pretense to playing here. We dropped off our clubs at the bag stand, went in and met Dave Eshelmann in the pro shop, retrieved our own Yamaha Power Cart all nice and clean and as Dave said “Head out after the next two groups tee off if you like.” They’ve got a really nice spacious and clean clubhouse also. What more could you ask for? It was 78F, everyone was smiling, lots of cars in the parking lot, mostly Canadian it seemed, and we never heard the word “hurry” once all day.
Chatting with a fellow who plays the course regularly who was practicing a few putts on a tiny 3-hole practice green, he gave me some insight into what to expect. Life is often dictated by expectations, the greater you set them more likely they will not be reached. He said the greens are pretty bumpy, ok I thought, hit them a little harder. He went onto say we would really enjoy some of the new holes and we did. My input was for under 40 bucks, cart included, what do you really want? What he did mention was that the course is better than it has been and is getting better. There’s nothing like the promise of a brighter future. We overlooked the lack of things you might get when paying 2 to 3 times more. We brought a couple of Gatorades and cookies, so no need for a beer cart. A fivesome waved us through promptly so marshals need not apply. We focused on how much fun we were having, scoring well wasn’t that critical and it was so darn peaceful and serene we loved the entire day.
What the course was lacking really is was what we all need when we are out baking in the desert; water. So, come out and play The Links at Coyote Wash, slap on plenty of sunscreen, make sure you’re hydrated, enjoy the extra roll off the tee and give that birdie putt a good tap and thank the Town of Wellton, AZ for adding that extra nine.