Phoenix-Scottsdale: Must play golf in the East Valley

By Travel ArticlesMay 11, 2012, 3:06 pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Most golfers who come to Arizona for a few rounds head up to north Scottsdale, where world-ranked courses are as plentiful as the saguaro cactus.

But if they set their GPS for the East Valley -- Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, Apache Junction, etc. -- they won't be disappointed. There are dozens of quality golf courses in the area. Some green fees are pricey, but others won't put much of a dent in the wallet.

Here are just a few to put on the itinerary.

Dinosaur Mountain at Gold Canyon Golf Resort

Gold Canyon Golf Resort is a bit of a haul -- it's about a 45-minute drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport -- but it's well worth the trip. The par-71, 6,653-yard Dinosaur Mountain Course at Gold Canyon has been ranked as one of the top 10 underrated courses in the country by Sports Illustrated.

The course, which features six par 3s, winds its way through the Superstition Mountains, and designer Ken Kavanaugh took advantage of the spectacular scenery and elevation change. Several of the tee boxes are set on cliffs, and it's not unusual to have a 60-foot drop from tee to green.

The par 3s make the course. Three of them are more than 200 yards, and the drop from the no. 2 tee to the green is 80 feet. Club selection, as one can imagine, is paramount.

One tip: Keep the ball below the hole. Putts rolling down from the mountain are treacherously fast.

Superstition Mountain Golf & C.C. in Apache Junction

There may not be a more picturesque setting for golf in the Valley than Superstition Mountain, which sits, naturally, at the base of the Superstition Mountains.

Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club was once a private club, so everything about it is first class, from the clubhouse to the facilities to the courses themselves. Even Ben Crenshaw was impressed, saying, 'These greens are as good if not better than any I have ever played.'

Superstition Mountain features two 18-hole layouts: The Prospector Course, a 7,225-yard par 72 that for years hosted an LPGA event, and the Lost Gold Course, a 7,351-yard par 72. Jack Nicklaus designed both courses, but the conditions aren't as difficult as some of his other Valley courses, which feature narrow fairways, forced carries and elevated greens.

Both courses are playable; the fairways wide and the greens inviting to bump-and-run shots.

Red Mountain Ranch Country Club in Mesa

Red Mountain Ranch Country Club, located in northeast Mesa, is one of the Valley's hidden gems. It was designed by Pete Dye in 1986 and is unlike many of the desert courses in the area.

The big difference: It's length, or lack of it. The par 72 plays only 6,653 yards long. In addition, there's little sand or water. But Dye countered those benign characteristics with mounding borrowed from Scottish links courses. The mounding runs through the fairways and is particularly prevalent around the greens.

It's not unusual to stand behind a greenside mound and not be able to see one inch of the putting surface.

The best part about Red Mountain, besides the fact the once-private course is now open to the public: Its prices. They're far lower than many of the resort courses in the area, and a great buy to play a Pete Dye design.

Ocotillo Golf Resort in Chandler

The first hint that Ocotillo isn't your typical desert course: There's water, and lots of it.

The resort, which is located in south Chandler and features 27 holes, more resembles a typical Florida layout with its waterfalls, floral arrangements and palm trees than it does an Arizona course.

Water comes into play on 23 of the 27 holes. It's particularly plentiful on Ocotillo's Blue Course, where it shadows fairways and greens on eight of the nine holes.

Ocotillo isn't as elegant as, say, Superstition Mountain, but tee times can be had for $40, and it's a pleasure not to have to trudge through desert to find your ball every other hole.

Longbow Golf Club in Mesa

Longbow Golf Club turns the real estate axiom -- location, location, location -- on its head. Located in east Mesa, Longbow is adjacent to an industrial park and in the flight path of Falcon Field Airport.

Fortunately, the course makes up for the scenery. Redesigned by Ken Kavanaugh in 2003, Longbow is part-links, part-desert course that has 18 solid, if not spectacular holes. The greens are the most notable characteristic; they're as fast as any putting surfaces in the Valley.

Longbow probably isn't for the golfer who has a couple hundred bucks to spend and wants the best Arizona can offer, but, with tee times as low as $30, it's a terrific alternative to the local munis.

Getty Images

Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

Getty Images

DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

Getty Images

Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

Getty Images

Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.