SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The 27-hole layout at The Phoenician hardly feels like desert golf at times.
There are spots where its lush manicured fairways and many ponds of the Oasis nine feel like a resort course in southern California or Florida. The influence of Camelback Mountain gives the first seven holes of the Canyon nine the characteristics of a true mountain course. The Desert nine appears as a hybrid of the other two.
The Phoenician was built in phases. The Oasis and Desert nines were built by Homer Flint in the late 1980s. Roughly a decade later, architect Ted Robinson Sr. added the first seven holes of the Canyon nine and revamped the Desert nine. Robinson did a fine job squeezing the Canyon's seven holes into some rugged terrain. There are a couple of tight spots, but the sheer majesty of the mountain forgives that.
The par-4 first climbs to an elevated green. The par-3 second drops to its green before the par-4 third climbs back up again. Long hitters can reach the downhill par-5 fourth hole in two. The fairway of the short par-4 sixth flirts with the mountain, affording spectacular views. There's no room for error with water guarding the green of the par-3 seventh. An awkward cart ride to No. 8 leads to a shorter par 3 with water in front. A pond up the entire right side dictates the safest route on the par-5 ninth.
Water guards more than half the holes on the Oasis nine -- Nos. 2-4 and Nos. 7-8 -- as some nice elevation changes complete the round. The ninth tumbles off an elevated tee box to an island green surrounded by sand.
The Desert nine returns to the base of Camelback Mountain for spectacular downhill par 3s at No. 6 and No. 8. The Phoenician Golf Academy is available for lessons before or after golf.
Kelvin Ayers, who played The Phoenician while visiting from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, calls the layout 'beautiful.'
'It is strategic,' Ayers said. 'There are a lot of hazards you've got to think through. There are hidden hazards. You have to look at the (course) map closely.'
The Relish Burger Bistro, which opened inside the clubhouse in 2010, serves 12 signature burgers and plenty of appetizers and desserts. It even houses Arizona's largest collection of tequila and more than 75 beers, a perfect way to toast the spoils of The Phoenician.