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.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.