Punch Shots: Favorite golf courses in Phoenix-Scottsdale on three budgets

By Brandon TuckerJanuary 28, 2013, 3:06 pm

You don't need big money to play the best golf courses in Phoenix-Scottsdale. Brandon Tucker and Mike Bailey share their favorite plays on three different budgets. 

Brandon Tucker's top picks on three budgets in Phoenix-Scottsdale:

Top Shelf ($150+ peak): Cholla at We-Ko-Pa

Scottsdale has a hearty collection of high-end clubs with splendid desert scenery like Troon North and Boulders Resort. But for beauty uninterrupted by any development, head to the East Valley for We-Ko-Pa Golf Club's 36 holes set on a Yavapai Nation native American reservation. The Coore-Crenshaw-designed Saguaro Course is a popular pick for the best public course in state. That said, I curry a little more favor to the original Cholla Course, thanks to a few more spectacular (albeit more manmade) holes, like the tumbling, par-5 8th. The panoramic mountain vistas, quiet surrounds and varying hole designs of the 7,225-yard layout make for a thrilling, yet dead quiet round.

Current green fees at We-Ko-Pa: $179-225

Mid-range ($100-149 peak): Raven Golf Club - Phoenix

If you've stepped on one too many 'Jumping Chollas' while fishing for errant golf balls in the desert, head to the Raven Golf Club - Phoenix. Big, rolling fairways, blooming red bougainvillea and thousands of pine trees make for a setting for golf entirely more akin to the Carolina Sandhills. As green and lush as the property is throughout, the course design is loads of fun with great risk-reward holes and interesting, large and lightning fast green complexes.

Current green fees for Raven Golf Club - Phoenix on GolfNow: $99-150

Bargain (under $100 peak): Wigwam Resort Gold Course

Many of the area's great bargain courses can be found in the West Valley, and the Wigwam Resort Gold Course, part of a pleasant, casita-style resort village, is my favorite play out here. It's a parkland-style layout with classic bones, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., but is still plenty tough to host top collegiate events in the spring. Flat, grassy fairways dotted with a mix of ponds, palm trees and some more northern style oaks make for a most pleasant environment, especially considering tee times here are well under $100 all year round.

Current rates for Wigwam Gold on GolfNow: $50-75

Mike Bailey's top picks on three budgets in Phoenix-Scottsdale:

Top Shelf: Monument course at Troon North

Phoenix-Scottsdale has so many good high end courses, but if I had to pick one that combined beauty, challenge, conditioning and variety of holes, it would have to be the Monument Course at Troon North Golf Club in Scottsdale. The Monument Course is one of two terrific championship courses at Troon North (the other is the Pinnacle), both designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish and redesigned in a new and better configuration in 2007 by Weiskopf. Besides the variety of holes and incredible views, though, the course brings in an element of links golf design, such as a reincarnation of St. Andrew's Hell Bunker. At more than 7,100 yards, it isn't particularly long, but certainly long enough, considering the challenge of the tee shots and approaches. Practice facilities and dining are five-star as well.

Current rates for the Monument at Troon North on GolfNow: $179-249

Mid-range: ASU Karsten Course

The Karsten Course at Arizona State University might be the best of the bargain golf courses. After all, this Pete Dye gem was good enough for the likes of Phil Mickelson, Billy Mayfair and Grace Park as collegians, and it's good enough for most of us as well. There's water, peninsula greens, pot bunkers and good conditioning, all in the backdrop of one of America's largest campuses.

Current rates for ASU Karsten on GolfNow: $79-110

Bargain: Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club

Formerly the all-men's Royal Dunes Golf Club, Ak-Chin Southern Dunes in Maricopa is unlike any other course in the Valley of the Sun. It certainly isn't desert golf, and while it isn't links golf, it's the closest thing you'll find in the area. Brian Curley of Schmidt-Curley Design (with Fred Couples consulting) took a flat piece of land and molded in elevation change, moguls, blind shots, gamma grasses, large undulation greens and 109 bunkers covering 12 acres of sand. And after the round, try the club's incredible Albondigas meatball soup.

Current rates for Southern Dunes on GolfNow: $79-99

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.