Renegade—The Original Course At Desert Mountain—Reopens After Extensive Renovation By Nicklaus Design

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Jack Nicklaus and the Nicklaus Design team return after 30 years to upgrade the first of Jack’s six Signature Golf Courses created for Arizona’s leading golf community.

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“Everything—including the game of golf—evolves and when the game changes, you’ve got to adapt with it,” said Nicklaus.

Renegade—the first of six Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses at Desert Mountain Club—reopens this month after a year-long renovation, led by Nicklaus himself along with 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. It 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.

Nicklaus, working alongside Cochran, created a new master plan for Renegade and has been intimately involved in the work, visiting the site several times. Houston-based construction company Heritage Links has implemented the Nicklaus Design renovation plan that included new greens, bunkers, tees, cart paths, drainage, irrigation system, lake construction, and grassing.

Renegade will still provide 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 4,500 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 were 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 12 holes with double- greens. Previously, it was five holes with three greens, and 13 holes with one large green. This reduced the total green size 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.

For additional information about Renegade or Desert Mountain, access the web site at

About Desert Mountain
Situated at an altitude of up to 4,500 feet in the picturesque Sonoran Desert of Scottsdale, Ariz., Desert Mountain is among the finest private golf and recreational communities in the world and is consistently ranked among the top private clubs in the nation. Often referred to as The Best Golf Club in the World, Desert Mountain is recognized as a Distinguished Club from Boardroom Magazine and is among the top 100 Platinum Golf and Country Clubs in the world and the only club in Arizona to be ranked in the top 20. It is the only private community worldwide with six Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses, with each designed to offer variety and an individual playing experience for all skill levels. To expand the club’s golf access, a seventh course is currently being developed.

Sitting on 8,000 acres, Desert Mountain is also home to a top-level spa, tennis on three surfaces, and nine restaurants, plus 15 miles of private hiking trails, mountain biking, horseback riding and luxury camping. A full suite of recreational, dining and luxury experiences await members and residents in the majestic Desert Mountain community. Looking to join or move up to the mountain? Visit for more information and membership details.

About the Nicklaus Companies & Nicklaus Design
The Nicklaus Companies is dedicated to promoting excellence in the game of golf, preserving its great traditions, and growing the game. For nearly 50 years, the mission of the Nicklaus Companies has been to enhance the golf experience, and to bring to the national and international consumer, golf-related businesses and services that mirror the high standards established in the career and life of record 18-time major champion and golf course designer Jack Nicklaus.

Nicklaus Design, the global golf course design firm founded by golf legend Jack Nicklaus, is widely regarded as the world's leading design firm. With a philosophy of working closely with clients, enhancing the natural environment, and creating courses that are both challenging and enjoyable for players of all levels, the company has 415 courses open for play in 45 countries and 39 states. Of those golf courses, Jack Nicklaus has been involved in the design of nearly 300 courses. For additional information, access the web site at

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Karen Moraghan
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