Out of the Shadows

By local contributor
Tom Mackin

It’s hard for a course to stand out in the golf-rich Scottsdale area. Then there’s The Short Course at Mountain Shadows in Paradise Valley. One of the few 18-hole, all-par-3 courses open to the public in the country, The Short Course is a singular experience that challenges better players while also being fun for more casual golfers. Best of all? It only takes about two hours to play.

The course, which debuted in early 2017 as part of Mountain Shadows Resort, sits just below Camelback Mountain and replaced a previous layout that dated back to 1961. Don’t let the length of the holes – from 75 yards to 193 yards – fool you, though.

“The way that I tried to get challenge into the holes was creating greens within greens so that from one day to the next, a hole could play almost completely different,” said course architect Forrest Richardson, a Camelback High School graduate. He succeeded, especially at the fourth green, where a huge swale cuts across the middle of it, and the 12th green, which slopes six feet from back to front. There’s even hole 17.5, a par-2 that requires putters only.           

The Short Course has quickly become a popular place for pro athletes (seeing a Cardinal or Diamondbacks player is not unusual) and local golf pros who congregate on Tuesday afternoons for an ultra-competitive Skins game. Recent PGA Tour winner Andrew Putnam owns the course record of 46. Green fees range from $20 to $65, depending on the season, and the low scorer can buy post-round drinks on the outdoor patio at Rusty’s overlooking the practice putting green.