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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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."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.