The Renegade course was the first of the six Jack Nicklaus Signature Courses to open at Desert Mountain and was once described by Golf Magazine as “the most versatile course in the world”.
Opened in 1987, it is designed to allow golfers to choose their level of play. You can vary the set-up with two pin placements on every hole. The white pin location will be placed on the shorter of the two greens or the front portion of a shared green. The Gold hole location will provide a different experience altogether. Jack Nicklaus has described Renegade as “his easiest and most difficult design in one”.
Tee box alternatives include Golden Bear and #1-#6. You can select a tee box and pin placement before the round, thus selecting the degree of difficulty preferred. The combination of tee and pin positions offers players of varied skill levels a unique test of their game. The result is equally varied slope and course ratings, ranging from 145/77.1 to 99/61.0 for the Men and 138/74.1 to 115/65.6 for the Women. The Renegade course can be stretched over 8,000 yards if played from the Gold Bear tees to the Gold flags.
Renegade has earned a place on Golf Digest’s list of “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses” three times and has been named among the best courses in Arizona by the publication.
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Renegade Course Renovation
The Renegade Course debuted a comprehensive renovation of its full 18 holes in June 2019. This $12.8 million project on the original Jack Nicklaus Signature course at Desert Mountain Club adhered to a new master plan created by Nicklaus and was completed with on-site guidance of Nicklaus himself alongside Nicklaus Designer, Chris Cochran.
Since debuting in 1987, Renegade has placed on Golf Digest’s list of “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses” three times and is a fixture on lists of the best courses in Arizona. In fact, Golf Digest once called Renegade “the most versatile course in the world” for its use of two greens on every hole, allowing golfers the option of playing it shorter or longer based on the tee and green they chose.
Houston-based construction company Heritage Links implemented the Nicklaus Design renovation plan that included new greens, bunkers, tees, cart paths, drainage, irrigation system, lake construction, and grassing.
Renegade still provides two pin placements on every hole, allowing Desert Mountain members to customize the course every time they play it. Either pin placement can be played on any given day, providing endless options and distance variety from a forward tee-length of 4,400 yards to a champions’ test of 8,000 yards. The customization goes so far that hole 10 can play beautifully as a par 4 or par 5 and hole 12 can be played either as a par 3 or par 4—depending on the day and the choice of the player. Every available playing option will be rated by the Arizona Golf Association, so players can enter accredited scores.
“Everything—including the game of golf—evolves and when the game changes, you’ve got to adapt with it,” said Nicklaus. “We opened up the renovated golf course a little bit by flattening the mounds and broadening the fairways, but it’s still the same golf course with two pins on every hole—just with a modernized playing strategy.”
In an effort to reduce maintenance expenses associated with water and labor, the new design will require less hand mowing. About 10% (or about 12 acres) of irrigated turf was removed and turf switched from bermuda to bentgrass, making Renegade the only course in Scottsdale to feature wall-to-wall, cool-season turf base year-round. Using bentgrass also eliminates the need to overseed, further reducing water usage, while allowing the course to remain green year-round.
Nicklaus once said that Renegade might be the toughest course he’s designed and played (he kidded on a recent site visit that he shot 83 during the 1987 grand opening—one year after winning the Masters at age 46—and missed only one fairway), while also the easiest, due to the two-green system. The renovation showcases the evolution of his design philosophy and also makes Renegade more maintainable and sustainable, while preserving its unique original design foundation.
Other components of the renovation:
- A new, state-of-the-art irrigation system was installed.
- A few bunkers were added to the course while others repositioned, adding both strategic options and visual appeal.
- All bunkers were fitted with new liners and a total of more than 100,000 tons of new sand.
- New tee boxes, including forward tees, were constructed to challenge the best, while providing options for avid and/or beginning golfers.
- Renegade now features six single greens, with two pins on them, and 11 holes with double- greens. Previously, the 14th hole had 3 greens, five holes had two greens, and 13 holes had single greens. This renovation reduced the total green space by more than 25%.
- Golfers’ views of the surrounding mountains have been enhanced, as are the views of the course from the homes that overlook it.