The new Ambiente Golf Course at Camelback Golf Club has a very different feel than most desert courses. Formerly a fairly flat course incorporating desert washes, it simply couldn’t drain the rain. Enter Jason Straka of Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design to remedy this issue and create a new beauty that is all about the “environment”, which is the translation for the Spanish name Ambiente. Freshly elevated and contoured, the fairways are sweeping with sizeable bunkers mirroring the contours throughout.

Hole number one sets the stage with bunkers flanking the green, front and back as well as one poignantly situated in the fairway at the left turn Ambientewhich might affect an over compensating drive too far right, meeting a native grass initiation. This is tall wispy grass matted down into a snarly mix with desert flowers, which serves as the “rough “ on most of the course and is easily accessed by most shots when slightly miscalculated. This is not the desired outcome because it serves as a virtual point of no return for golf balls. The fairways are wide enough that the grass can be avoided with proper course management, which is facilitated by the GPS units on the cart providing excellent layouts with accurate yardage. As contouring is key, so it flows to the greens, none crazier than the number four wavy green. In fact, all have many interesting pin placement options. Strategize and execute and you’ll be fine.

The new design has cut the fertilization and irrigation costs in half by incorporating the natural habitat.  A “Wile E Coyote” was seen on number five by the long lake, drinking water and perhaps scouting the ducks and geese for his next feast or maybe he was considering the next acme product to market to the neighborhood where Paradise Valley palms and pines encase palatial homes. Natural desert terrain can be stark and scruffy but with eye popping wild flowers blooming amidst these sprawling estates and the mountains looming above, the sun, almost eternally shining, you have a beautiful golf ambience. All told, it adheres to the Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary that was awarded in 2008. It is a distinctive links and prairie course within the walls of Paradise Valley, one of the most affluent zip codes in Arizona. .

Kudos goes to Jason Straka for winning in the ASGCA Design Excellence Recognition Program for Ambiente. It is no wonder that Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design ( was named the Golf Course Design Firm of the Year for 2013 by The Boardroom Magazine in the publication’s annual Excellence in Achievement Awards.

Ambiente and Padre courses at Camelback Golf Club are part of JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Camelback Spa is a favorite in the valley of the sun for exquisite treatments in a serene setting with the pool backing up to Mummy Mountain. Golf and spa, ahh –