Five cant-miss golf courses in Scottsdale
No. 16 at TPC Scottsdale is one of the PGA Tour's signature holes. (Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – With more than 200 golf courses in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area, it seems the choices are endless. So how do you narrow it down?
Well, if you've never been to Scottsdale – and you're not looking for a bargain – there are certain golf courses that would qualify as must-play venues. As we see it, here are five can't-miss golfing experiences in that area code:
Troon North Golf Club
There are 36 holes at Troon North – the Monument Course and the Pinnacle Course – and both are as good as they are expensive during peak season (count on paying two bills or more). But they're always in terrific shape, especially during the winter.
The Pinnacle Course, which is set up against the base of Pinnacle Peak, is classic desert target golf. Fairways are more than generous, but approach shots must be fairly precise to reach these perfect undulating greens. The Monument Course, which is widely considered the better of the two, is named for the monument boulder on the third hole. With tees perched high above fairways, it has a few forced carries, but they don't keep it from being quite playable overall. Both courses feature great views of the valleys and some spectacular homes (that don't come into play). Practice facilities are outstanding.
Things at Troon North got even better in 2007, when original architects Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish renovated the courses, which included rerouting by switching some holes on the back nine. In the end, it made both courses easier to get around, plus they now have a little more of a links feel.
TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course
Home of the most raucous fans on the PGA Tour, the Weiskopf-Morrish designed Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale is something you'll want to experience. If for no other reason than to play the par-3 16th hole, even if you're not surrounded by 50,000 hecklers in pastel booing your tee shot or cheering your putt.
These days, the 16th is completely enclosed during the Waste Management Phoenix Open, making it one of the most unique amphitheaters in all of golf. All you have to do is add a little imagination.
This is also a facility (which also includes the TPC Champions Course) that more than two dozen PGA Tour players call home. It's also where noted teacher Jim Flick bases his game-improvement clinics.
Grayhawk Golf Club
Another facility with two terrific layouts, Grayhawk Golf Club is definitely a Scottsdale standout. Both the Talon and the Raptor courses at Grayhawk have hosted numerous high-profile events, including the Accenture Match Play in the late 1990s.
Most recently, the Raptor Course has been the site of the Frys.com Open, which is part of the PGA Tour's Fall Series. This Tom Fazio-designed shotmaker's course has plenty of cool holes, including the short 330-yard 'Wee One' par-4 15th that provides the ultimate in risk-reward (stray drivers usually wind up in the desert).
The Talon Course, which is designed by David Graham and Gary Panks, gives Grayhawk a really nice 1-2 combination. Fairways are tighter on this course, but like its sister, conditioning on the tees and greens is usually immaculate.
Afterwards, check out Phil's Grill (named after Phil Mickelson) for drinks and great views of the golf course and nearby McDowell Mountains.
Westin Kierland Resort and Spa
With 27 holes, there's plenty of golf to choose from at Westin Kierland Resort and Spa. Since the course is designed by Scott Miller, most of the holes are pretty wide open and forgiving ... but it's no pushover, especially the Acacia Nine, which ends with a terrific risk-reward par 5.
If you're really adventurous, you can try your hand at one of the golf course's Segways instead of a golf cart. It comes with training, fortunately, and it's a pretty quick way to get around the golf course once you get the hang of it.
Another techie innovation at the Kierland: a sort of air-conditioning system on golf carts. The devices blow cool air on the back of your neck while you're riding, which can be a real godsend during one of Arizona's triple-digit days.
The resort is also home to the LaBauve Golf Academy, featuring top teachers Mike and Sandy LaBauve. The instruction at Kierland is rounded out with a top-notch clubfitting program, as well as the ForeMax golf conditioning program.
Talking Stick Golf Club
Ben Crenshaw-Bill Coore designed golf courses are almost always excellent, and 36-hole Talking Stick Golf Club is no exception.
Named for the traditional wooden stick used on Pima Indian calendars, Talking Stick is a prime example of minimalist design. Crenshaw and Coore went for a links feel (as opposed to a desert feel) over on the longer, more difficult North Course. In excess of 7,100 yards, this par 70 has wide fairways, no trees and plenty of bunkers.
The South Course has a little more elevation change and some tree-lined fairways. A bit shorter, it's also more straightforward than the North Course. With designers like this behind them, it's no surprise that both courses are always in excellent shape.
This story originally published on TravelGolf.com.
Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener
HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.
Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.
''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''
Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.
''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''
Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.
''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''
Masters champion Sergio Garcia, Rafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.
Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open
The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:
Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)
What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.
Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.
Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.
Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.
Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.
Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one
Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.
Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia
SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.
Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.
''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.
But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.
In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.
''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''
Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.
The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.
''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''
NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.