Arizona's West Valley offers diversity near Phoenix

By Travel ArticlesMay 21, 2012, 4:00 am

PHOENIX -- When it comes to sports, the West Valley is known for the University of Phoenix Stadium and Arena, the respective homes of the Arizona Cardinals and Phoenix Coyotes.

But there are also several golf courses in the area. They're not as bunched together as those in north Scottsdale, but they're also not as expensive.

In fact, given the quality of the layouts and the lower-priced tee times, they're some of the best bargains in Arizona.

Here are just a few West Valley golf courses to check out:

Raven Golf Club at Verrado

If the Raven Golf Club at Verrado was located in north Scottsdale, it would be on everyone's must-play list. It's that spectacular.

Unfortunately, because Verrado is situated at the base of the White Tank Mountains on the far west side of the Valley, it doesn't get the attention it should.

The scenery is unbeatable and, in many ways, so is the golf course. The 7,258-yard par 72 designed by Tom Lehman and John Fought features sweeping elevation changes -- one par 3 drops 60 feet from tee to green -- and length that will bedevil even the longest of hitters; four par 4s are at least 464 yards and seem to always play into the wind.

The conditions at Verrado are impeccable and, to try to entice golfers to head so far west, management offers some of the best deals in town.

Wigwam Resort

Wigwam, located in Litchfield Park about 30 minutes west of Phoenix, is a blast from the past. The three courses, two of which were designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., are straight-forward, no-trick layouts nestled among rolling hills, parkland trees, lakes, canals and streams.

There's no desert to speak of, and Wigwam's traditional look makes for a much easier round of golf.

The three courses are as different as three courses can be on one property. Wigwam's Gold Course is a monster, 7,430 yards from the back tees. The Patriot Course -- which is known as 'the great contradiction' because the front nine is 3,250 yards long and the back nine is only 2,750 yards -- features smaller greens, many of which are crowned like Pinehurst No. 2. The Heritage Course, a 6,852-yard par 72, is probably the easiest to play, but its finishing three holes are quite the kick.

The best way to enjoy Wigwam: Stay for a night or two at the resort, now owned by Jerry Colangelo, enjoy the amenities and play all three courses.

Golf Club of Estrella

The Golf Club of Estrella may be the least-talked-about great course in the Valley.

That's in large part due to its location at the far southwest corner of the greater Phoenix area.

But Estrella, a 7,139-yard par 72, is well worth the trip. In 2007, Golfweek named it the seventh best golf course in Arizona.

What makes Estrella special? The same things that make it difficult. Because there's little development around Estrella, the wind blows constantly, testing a golfer's club selection and patience. The greens are extremely fast and difficult to read.

Most of all, however, it's the bunkers. There are 83 and all and many of them are so deep you'd swear they were transported from a British Open course.

Maryvale Golf Course

Maryvale Golf Course is for the blue jeans and t-shirt crowd.

The municipal was designed in 1961 by William Bell, who also was the architect at Torrey Pines. It's a classic, tree-lined layout with gentle doglegs and, at only 6,500 yards, ideal for the beginning golfer.

Conditions aren't the best -- as is the case with most municipals -- but the price is right. Rounds are as low as $20.

Quintero Golf Club

Qunitero Golf Club, located about 15 miles east of Wickenburg along the Carefree Highway, is one of several private Valley courses that have opened their doors to the public to bring in a little more cash.

The Rees Jones design has been named one of America's top 100 modern courses by Golfweek magazine and is arguably one of the top five courses in the Valley.

The conditions are immaculate and the surrounding Hieroglyphic Mountains are beautiful, but what really separates Quintero is a collection of par 3s unmatched in Arizona. Two examples: No. 6 features a 110-foot elevation change from tee to green, and the par-3 ninth has a 60-foot drop that has to clear a lake in front of the green.

Given its once-private status and second-to-none conditions, Quintero is surprisingly affordable. Tee times in May, for example, are as low as $75.

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After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

Laura Davies won the day.

It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

She also relished showing certain fans something.

“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”