WICKENBERG RANCH: WHERE THE OLD WEST AND MODERN LIVING CONVERGE
BETWEEN 1863 and 1942, the Vulture Mine — discovered by prospector Henry Wickenburg — yielded more than $30 million worth of gold. These days, the pursuit of gold has given way to a town rich with history and a community where residents extract nuggets of the good life: Wickenburg Ranch.
Just an hour northwest of Phoenix, people flock to this close-knit residential community where superb golf, dazzling desert-mountain scenery, small-town charm, and an amenity-rich resort lifestyle are the compelling draws. The fun comes easy as Wickenburg Ranch features hiking and biking trails, a full-service spa, a heated, resort-style pool, an Art Barn for learning new hobbies, a spacious dog park to enjoy the outdoors with furry friends, and a Courts & Sports Complex that hosts daily pickleball, tennis play, bocce, and horseshoes.
While Wickenburg Ranch has matured dramatically in the past five years, it has never been content to stand still. Two impressive new amenities have wowed residents and visitors in recent months: the Ranch House and Lake Park. Uniquely, the Ranch House — which debuted mid-December last year and enjoyed its grand opening in January — functions as a new amenity for members and as a welcome center for visitors. Overlooking the first hole on the award-winning Big Wick golf course, the Ranch House boasts some of the best views on the entire property. Highlights include a special events bar, lounge areas, a pool table on the patio, multiple TVs, a new community topographical map, digital touch screens, and a state-of-the-art design center where members get to plan their dream home.
Perhaps the most popular aspect of the Ranch House so far is The Outfitter. “The Outfitter is an REI-style boutique shop that stocks distinctive high-end logoed merchandise, including brands such as Yeti and Columbia, that can’t be found anywhere else on property,” said Mollie Beale, director of member experience at Wickenburg Ranch. “The Outfitter also houses ceiling-to-floor maps of the great Southwest, so newcomers to the area can see just how close in proximity we are to different lakes or hiking trails, whatever adventure our members are ready for, we’re here to help get them there.”
Beale said that the Ranch House has been an instant hit for the experience it provides. “This is where the homeowner’s journey begins, so we’ve made it very relaxed,” she said. “It’s managed by Troon, and there are no salespeople here. We have a resident ambassador who assists newcomers in getting questions answered and in making introductions to existing homeowners, who will be future neighbors. The Ranch House also features a new trail head and community map of the Pioneer Trails (over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails) and boasts amazing views. The Ranch House makes for an exceptional experience where potential residents have a chance to make a real connection with current homeowners, who can not only give the inside scoop, but also provide a fabulous place for our members to catch up with each other, host clubs and interest groups or partake in a fun trunk show being hosted in the Outfitter.”
Also new at Wickenburg Ranch is Lake Park. Making its debut in the spring of 2020, the aptly named Lake Park features a catch-and-release fishing pond surrounded by a quarter-mile paved hiking and biking trail, ample green lawn space to enjoy with friends, a disc golf course, and picnic rotundas. White Amur (Grass Carp), Catfish, Bluegill, Crappie, Bass and Tilapia are among the denizens of the pond — and they’re treated well. “Fishing is done without live bait,” said Corby W. Foster, Wickenburg Ranch’s general manager. “It’s recommended to use single barbless hooks for the catch-and- release fishing.”
“Wickenburg Ranch is a ‘family of friends’ — a close community of like-minded people with a shared passion for life and staying active,” said Beale. “The Lake Park gives them another beautiful place to do that. The paved paths are accessible from several locations for walking, running, or biking, the picnic rotundas provide lots of shade, and it’s an ideal spot for pet owners to socialize — even as we continue to practice social distancing.”
Lake Park is conveniently positioned in the center of the community and will serve as a setting for members’ social events. “It will be an awesome outdoor place for live entertainment and member celebrations,” said Beale.
What haven’t missed a beat are Wickenburg Ranch’s inspired golf offerings. From its Big Wick championship-caliber layout that ranks among Arizona’s finest courses, to the nine-hole Li’l Wick spread that could be the state’s most fun, Wickenburg Ranch rolls out one of the Southwest’s most extraordinary golf experiences.
Hewn from rough-and-tumble, high-desert terrain, Big Wick’s 7,059-yard, par-71 layout is peppered with memorable holes. The showstopper is the vertigo-inducing, 246-yard, par-three 13th that plunges 70 feet to a putting surface framed by a large lake to the right and by mountain vistas beyond. Steven Outlaw, Wickenburg Ranch’s director of golf, tabs the 13th as his favorite hole on Big Wick. “Named ‘Big Water,’ this is our signature hole,” Outlaw said. “In my opinion, it’s the best par-3 in Arizona. It has the perfect amount of risk/reward and views that are unparalleled.”
Big Wick has justifiably garnered many awards since its debut in 2015. Most recently, it ranked No. 86 in Golfweek’s Top 100 Residential Courses in the U.S. In 2019, Golf Channel’s Golf Advisor ranked Big Wick No. 2 in Arizona, and ranked it No. 12 in the U.S. in their Top 25 Best Conditioned Courses in the U.S. The accompanying Sports Shop has also garnered AGM Platinum Awards as a Top 100 Golf Shop in the U.S.
Not to be missed, however, is Big Wick’s one-of-a-kind, smaller sibling, Li’l Wick. Perhaps no environment in golf so successfully fuses legitimate golf holes with pure, kick-back entertainment. The par-3 layout has nine holes that measure between 108 and 179 yards with two sets of shorter tees. Between the relaxed golf atmosphere featuring a giant hammock and cozy seating areas to relax in between holes, to classic rock and country songs piped in from surrounding speakers, to the superb Watering Hole set right into the heart of the course, it’s all pure fun.
Outlaw’s favorite hole is the 168-yard seventh, named “Damn Skippy,” because “it plays over water and with a multitiered green, it’s a challenging shot,” he said. As added enticement, the holes closest to the Watering Hole — Nos. 1, 7, 8 and 9 — are illuminated for night play.
Wickenburg Ranch will eventually be fully private. For now, outside guests can enjoy both remarkable courses. With the combination packages offered, you can experience both Big Wick and Li’l Wick in the same day. Be sure to ask about the combo package when you book your tee time.