West side story: A tale of great value just outside Phoenix-Scottsdale

By Travel ArticlesNovember 26, 2012, 5:00 am

PHOENIX -- Around these parts, there are four directions -- north, south, east and 'way out west.'

Ask a Phoenix or Scottsdale resident about the West Valley, and there's a good chance they'll motion wildly with one arm, as if telling you to go deep for a football pass.

Ironically, if the NFL's Arizona Cardinals didn't host their opponents in Glendale, some folks wouldn't even know there was life -- and we're talking humans, not rattlesnakes and cacti -- on this oft-forgotten side of the Valley of the Sun.

'You know the famous New Yorker cartoon where they show the Hudson River and then L.A.?' questioned Tom Wilcox, director of golf at Quintero Golf & Country Club in Peoria, one of the largest municipalities in what's collectively known as the West Valley.

'Well, I think a lot of people think the Phoenix metro area stops at (Interstate) 17 and there's nothing west of there except Wickenburg, the cowboy town.'

These days, nobody in the West Valley carries a six-shooter. A six-iron? Now that's another story.

We planned a trip to the West Valley because of access to a house in Goodyear, the perfect spot to escape the snow back home and rest our eyes between rounds of golf. Remote as it appeared on a map, our digs were 45 minutes from the Sky Harbor International Airport. Or, as the locals would say, 'way out west.'

It's worth noting you don't need free accommodations to feel like you're getting a bargain golf getaway in the West Valley.

West Valley: The golf courses

At the Golf Club of Estrella (Jack Nicklaus II, 1999), the so-called 'inclusive package' for the fall months included as many holes as you can play in a day, plus lunch and a dozen Titleist Pro-V1s, all for $105.

The same amount will get you a couple of beers and a round of golf at Quintero (Rees Jones, 2000), once an exclusive private hangout where some memberships fetched nearly $150,000.

Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia (Gary Panks, 2004) was the only course in Arizona to score full five-star status from Golf Digest back in 2008, yet almost every green-fee rate remains in double-digits.

And a single-day replay at Raven Golf Club at Verrado (2004, John Fought/Tom Lehman) will cost you just $30. In fact, you can play 36 holes for less than $100 in shoulder season and won't shell out too much more at prime time.

'One of the things we say is, 'It's Scottsdale golf at half the price,'' said Greg Ellis, general manager at the Trilogy at Vistancia. 'There's great golf in the West Valley, and the value you receive is overwhelming compared to what you'll pay anywhere else. The difference is just the distance you have to travel to come play one of these golf courses.'

What sets Scottsdale apart, especially for the serious golf addicts, is convenience. You can tee it up at two separate tracks -- and grab lunch in between at a steakhouse or shopping mall food court -- and only register a handful of miles on your rental car.

That's not the case in the West Valley. Everything is spread out. While not impossible, you'll be hard-pressed to tee off at two different courses before the sun sets. If you're planning to party at night, this is the wrong place.

Think of it as the not-so-wild West.

'When I first got here, people would say, 'Boy, this is really out here.' And I'd say, 'Well, I live over in Carefree/Cave Creek, and it's only 35 minutes,'' said Quintero's Wilcox, who has been meeting a lot of first-timers since they started welcoming public play in 2010. 'And now when people say, 'Boy, this is really out here,' I just say, 'Isn't it great?' It's so quiet.'

West Valley golf: The verdict

When sizing up golfing locales in the Phoenix metropolitan area, west will never be considered best.

With its trophy tracks -- Grayhawk Golf Club, The Boulders Golf Club, Troon North Golf Club and TPC Scottsdale, to name just a few -- and trendy restaurants and nightspots, Scottsdale isn't relinquishing its status as Arizona's golf capital.

That doesn't mean there's no reason to find out what's on the other side of I-17. The West Valley can't compete in terms of quantity, but courses such as Golf Club of Estrella, Quintero, Raven at Verrado and Trilogy at Vistancia stack up with what's being offered across town. If you're building a golf trip on a budget, your buck will go a lot further 'way out west.'

'When I'm talking to people, I talk to them about value. You could play five great golf courses on this side of town for half of what you would you would pay for similar quality courses on the other side of town,' said Doug Foss, manager of sales and marketing at Raven at Verrado.

'There are plenty of places to stay on this side of town. There are plenty of places to eat. Yeah, the nightlife is not the same, but if you're a hardcore golfer, isn't it better just to play golf and go have a nice dinner and go to bed and get up and play more golf?'

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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.