Top 5 golf courses in Scottsdale

By Mike BaileyFebruary 23, 2010, 3:05 am
grayhawk raptor no. 6
No. 6 at Grayhawk's Raptor Course

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Though the PGA Tour chooses TPC Scottsdale for the Waste Management Phoenix Open there are more than 200 other golf courses in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area, making for some tough decisions when planning your next golf vacation in the desert.

How should the traveling golfer narrow it down? As we see it, there are five can't-miss golfing experiences in the 480 area code:

For more golf in Arizona, or to plan your next trip, visit GolfArizona.com
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 at Scottsdale Stadium Course

Home of the most raucous fans on the PGA Tour, the Weiskopf-Morrish designed Stadium Course at the TPC at 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 FBR 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.
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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."