Play north Scottsdale's best golf courses

By Travel ArticlesJune 12, 2012, 4:49 pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There's only one thing wrong with planning a Scottsdale golf vacation: It's hard to find enough time to play all of the city's great courses.

Phoenix may be the capital city, but there's no question Scottsdale -- north Scottsdale in particular -- is the golfing nexus in Arizona.

Hit a 3-wood in any direction and you're apt to find a course that has made some top-10 list. Here are just a few of the options:

TPC Scottsdale

The Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale isn't as visually spectacular as some of the city's other name courses, but the allure of playing the same track that hosts the Waste Management Phoenix Open is too great to pass up.

It's a kick to stand on the 18th tee, look at the lake left of the fairway and know that PGA Tour pros like Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes routinely fly their drives over the water's far edge, 300 yards away.

Alert golfers also will spot the plaque marking the spot on the 13th hole where Tiger Woods received the infamous 'loose impediment” ruling in 1999, allowing several fans to move a large boulder so he could have a free swing.

And it's impossible to stand on the par-3 16th tee and not imagine 20,000 fans -- many of them intoxicated and boisterous -- booing your shot if it doesn't land on the putting surface.

Troon North Golf Club

There isn't a better golfing venue in the state than Troon North Golf Club. It's a spectacular piece of property, and both the Pinnacle Course and Monument Course are always in PGA Tour condition.

Golfers can't go wrong on either course. The Monument is a love letter to British Open-style links, complete with greens that are receptive to bump-and-run shots. Even the names of the holes are borrowed from overseas. The par-5 ninth hole is Hell Bunker and the 18th is St. Andrews.

The Pinnacle is a more traditional desert course, with forced carries and elevated greens. Oh, and those greens are extremely fast. Imagine putting on the sidewalk in front of the house -- with severe undulations.

Troon North isn't cheap, but the crown jewel of Arizona golf is worth the price of admission.

Kierland Golf Club

There may not be a more unique golfing experience in Scottsdale than Kierland Golf Club.

It's in the middle of the desert, but there isn't a single saguaro on the property. There's no 18-hole course, either. Instead, there are three nine-hole courses -- Acacia, Mesquite and Ironwood -- and they all feature wide fairways and generous greens.

But what truly makes Kierland special are the extra touches, like the air-conditioned golf carts or the bagpiper that plays near the ninth green of the Acacia late in the afternoon. Golfers also can tool around the course in a Segway after taking a one-hour instructional lesson.

Talking Stick Resort

Take the 101 Loop South a few miles from north Scottsdale and golfers will discover the 36-hole Talking Stick Resort.

Neither the North Course nor the South Course, designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, are as challenging or as visually spectacular as, say, Troon North, but they provide resort guests with a nice day out on the town.

The North Course is the tougher of the two, a par-71 links-style layout with steep bunkers that measures 7,133 yards from the tips. The South Course is flat and built for high-handicappers.

The best part about the courses is location. The resort and casino are next door, and the spring training home of Major League Baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies is right across the 101.

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club

If Troon North is No. 1 on Scottsdale's must-play properties, We-Ko-Pa Golf Club is No. 2.

We-Ko-Pa's Cholla Course, designed by Scott Miller, was named one of the 10 best new public golf courses in the world by Sports Illustrated after it opened in 2001.

But the true gem is We-Ko-Pa's Saguaro Course. It's a rarity these days, a desert course that is made for walking, with each green only a few yards from the next set of tees. Golfweek named it the best public-access course in the country.

Like Troon North, the scenery is eye-popping and the courses are always in pristine condition. The big difference: We-Ko-Pa's desert layouts are a bit easier to navigate than Troon North and will appeal more to the weekend hacker.

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 5:00 pm

Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course

By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2018, 1:50 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.

McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”

This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.

A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.

McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.

“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”

As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.

“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”

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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.

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Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 2:09 am

PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.

While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.

But then . . .

“Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”

In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.

She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.

With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.

At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).

Park’s back with a hot putter.

That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.

“The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.

Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.

“But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.

Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.

Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.

They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.

Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro 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. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.

“I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.

“She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”

Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.

“I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”

Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.

“When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”