Trip Dispatch: Soaking in Scottsdale on a bachelor party

By Brandon TuckerSeptember 19, 2013, 3:28 pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Even the TSA agent at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport had to ask me, 'Scottsdale? Why didn't you go to Vegas?'

I've had to explain the reason for selecting my bachelor party destination a handful of times over the past couple months. My answer was this: with most of my group having been veterans of a Las Vegas bachelor party weekend, the appeal to Scottsdale was that we could get warm weather, pools, golf and bars -- but things probably wouldn't go over the top, as the 24/7 entertainment of Vegas has a way of triggering.

After all, we're in our 30s now, and no one wanted to go home to their better halves explaining why next month's mortgage payment may be late.

Summer golf courses great for groups around Phoenix-Scottsdale

Raven Phoenix

Raven Golf Club Phoenix, minutes from Sky Harbor Airport. 

Yes, early September isn't exactly prime time on southwestern desert golf courses. But if you're willing to endure 100-degree temps, the reward is bargain tee times on wide open courses that were in surprisingly green and lush shape. Over-seeding doesn't occur on most courses until late September or early October, so we had our pick of just about every course in town.

We started at Raven Golf Club Phoenix, which was a perfect spot to play on arrival day since the airport is just 10 minutes away. It's a course I played last winter and really enjoyed as part of an O.B. Sports event, and it was good to see it's summer look is great, too. The layout has wide, rolling fairways and huge greens. Some of us hadn't played in awhile, so the idea of a target-style desert course wasn't appealing. While we sat in our shady carts drinking a mix of sports drinks and beer, we looked a fairway over and saw a single hoofing it in 100-plus degree heat. That surely wouldn't be us this week.

On day two, we headed north to Kierland Golf Club, part of the Westin Kierland Resort and always known to sport some of the best conditions and amenities in town to go with a resort-style, player-friendly layout. 27-hole Kierland has a layout that, particularly on the Acacia nine, has some really cool shots that made for a fun afternoon of skins, long drives and closest to the pin games. It's pretty easy to be talked into a margarita by the beverage cart gals who have pre-mixed taps ready to pour (nursing a beer in 100-degree sun generally means the final few sips taste like bath water). Troon Golf-managed courses like Kierland have recently been rolling out 'Time Par' for their facilities that promotes a swift pace of play. When you're out on a 105-degree afternoon however, it's easy to keep the ball hunts brisk and be generous with conceding three-footers.

On Friday, we wrapped up our golf portion of the trip with a two-team scramble on Talking Stick's North Course. Each course at Talking Stick is well-suited for groups with a few novice golfers in tow. Fairways here, like most Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw designs, are monstrous (there is no rough, just fairways and desert areas), which lessens the possibility of someone's weekend getting ruined by a 'jumping cholla.' Greens are large and rolling with plenty of room to run up shots from the fairways. Yet, there is good hole variety, particularly on holes like the double-fairway 12th (named 'Red Mountain Gambler') a favorite hole for scramble strategy. There are only two par 5s, which lessens the birdie chances a bit. But considering my team shamefully bogeyed the par-5 17th hole (don't ask), I suppose we can't complain. Our two teams shot equal 3-under 67s, called it a 'truce' and were off to Old Town Scottsdale for the night. 

Talking Stick bachelor party group

The crew after playing to a scramble draw at Talking Stick.

Nightlife in Scottsdale's Old Town and lodging at Talking Stick

We chose to make Talking Stick Resort our base for the week for a variety of reasons, mainly because it was a better value than downtown Scottsdale and lot to do onsite, including golf and 24-hour gaming. Some folks in my group lamented the lack of live craps and roulette in Arizona casinos (there are video versions), but the rows of blackjack tables made up for it. 

The centerpiece of the non-golfing activities of the weekend centered around the resort's weekend Release Pool Party series which runs through the end of September and attracts a good crowd. For the football-obsessed folks in my group, reserving a poolside cabana meant we had a front row seat to the pool, plus a DirecTV feed that got us any college football game we wanted Saturday afternoon. Between the scenery around the pool and the games on TV, there wasn't a better place to be in town for awhile. We kept our waitress busy for six hours, ordering everything from buckets of beer to margaritas and quesadillas. I don't trust my camera phone much near bodies of water, but this resort-made video on Labor Day just about sums up the vibe: 

It seems that during summertime, the majority of the crowd in Scottsdale is in the 'staycation' mode. Bachelorette parties are in abundance, which makes an easy ice breaker for us tourist folk. Even on what we thought would be a relatively slow weekend after Labor Day, lines were out the door at many bars, so I'd recommend going early. A lot of bars, even the ones that seem relatively casual, can get shoulder-to-shoulder by midnight and getting a table requires a reservation. 

The epicenter of the scene is 'Whiskey Row' in Old Town, a compact block with a handful of large, open-air bars that pound music. At Dierk Bentley's Whiskey Row, country clad gals dance on the bar pouring out shots, and there's also a stage elevated above the bar that shows bands on the weekends. A few other bars were worth venturing a few blocks from here elsewhere in Old Town, like American Junkie, which has a most festive crowd, indoor/outdoor setup and good tunes.

American Junkie is a good spot to end the night, but a few other spots are good for starting it off. Patties is an Irish pub with shuffleboard and ping-pong, while The Lodge has corn hole, darts, pool, Golden Tee and Big Buck Hunter. In the streets, 8-seater golf carts serve as a cheap and efficient method of transportation between spots in Old Town; the drivers work on tips and are easy to spot. 

Getting us back and forth from Talking Stick was a free hotel shuttle that runs guests downtown every hour until 2 a.m. In fact, the driver offered to zip us around personally for a few hours both Friday and Saturday so we could bounce around the city at will, while leaving our rental car we needed for golf parked all weekend. Besides gratuity, it didn't cost us a thing. 

By Sunday morning, as we gathered for one last breakfast, our entire group was quite knackered. Myself, and I'm guessing everyone else, was ready to head home to our better halves -- and that's the point of a successful bachelor party, right? 

View Phoenix-Scottsdale Golf Packages and tee times on GolfNow

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 9:20 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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First-, second-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

Three-time champion Tiger Woods is playing in The Open for the first time since he missed the cut in 2015 at St. Andrews. Woods will begin his first round Thursday in the 147th edition at Carnoustie at 10:21 a.m. ET, playing alongside Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Knox.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth delivered the claret jug to the R&A on Monday at Carnoustie. He will begin his title defense at 4:58 a.m. ET on Thursday, playing with world No. 2 Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

Other notable groupings:

  • Rory McIlroy will look to capture his second claret jug at 7:53 a.m. Thursday. He goes off with Marc Leishman and Thorbjorn Olesen.
  • World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is playing with Alex Noren and Charley Hoffman. They will play at 8:04 a.m. ET in the first round.
  • World No. 2 Justin Thomas goes at 8:26 a.m. with Francesco Molinari and Branden Grace.
  • Masters champion Patrick Reed will play with Louis Oosthuizen and Paul Casey at 5:20 a.m. ET.
  • U.S. Open champion and world No. 4 Brooks Koepka is grouped with Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith (9:59 a.m. ET).
  • Phil Mickelson, the 2013 Open champion, will begin at 3:03 a.m. ET with Satoshi Kodaira and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Here's a look at the full list of times for Rounds 1 and 2 (all times ET):

1:35AM/6:36AM: Sandy Lyle, Martin Kaymer, Andy Sulliva

1:46AM/6:47AM: Erik Van Rooyen, Brady Schnell, Matthew Southgate

1:57AM/6:58AM: Danny Willett, Emiliano Grillo, Luke List

2:08AM/7:09AM: Mark Calcavecchia, Danthai Boonma, Shaun Nooris

2:19AM/7:20AM: Kevin Chappell, Oliver Wilson, Eddie Pepperell

2:30AM/7:31AM: Ross Fisher, Paul Dunne, Austin Cook

2:41AM/7:42AM: Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay, Shane Lowry

2:52AM/7:53AM: Thomas Pieters, Kevin Kisner, Marcus Kinhult

3:03AM/8:04AM: Phil Mickelson, Satoshi Kodaira, Rafa Cabrera Bello

3:14AM/8:15AM: Brian Harman, Yuta Ikeda, Andrew Landry

3:25AM/8:26AM: Si Woo Kim, Webb Simpson, Nicolai Hojgaard (a)

3:36AM/8:37AM: Stewart Cink, Brandon Stone, Hideto Tanihara

3:47AM/8:48AM: Gary Woodland, Yusaku Miyazato, Sung Kang

4:03AM/9:04AM: Ernie Els, Adam Hadwin, Chesson Hadley

4:14AM/9:15AM: Pat Perez, Julian Suri, George Coetzee

4:25AM/9:26AM: David Duval, Scott Jamieson, Kevin Na

4:36AM/9:37AM: Darren Clarke, Bernhard Langer, Retief Goosen

4:47AM/9:48AM: Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Peter Uihlein

4:58AM/9:59AM: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

5:09AM/10:10AM: Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Chris Wood

5:20AM/10:21AM: Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed

5:31AM/10:32AM: Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Jhonattan Vegas

5:42AM/10:43AM: Yuxin Lin (a), Alexander Bjork, Sang Hyun Park

5:53AM/10:54AM: James Robinson, Haraldur Magnus, Zander Lombard

6:04AM/11:05AM: Kodai Ichihara, Rhys Enoch, Marcus Armitage

6:15AM/11:16AM: Sean Crocker, Gavin Green, Ash Turner

6:36AM/1:35AM: Brandt Snedeker, Sam Locke (a), Cameron Davis

6:47AM/1:46AM: Patton Kizzire, Jonas Blixt, Charles Howell III

6:58AM/1:57AM: Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Tom Lewis

7:09AM/2:08AM: Alex Levy, Ryan Moore, Byeong Hun An

7:20AM/2:19AM: Michael Hendry, Kelly Kraft, Lee Westwood

7:31AM/2:30AM: Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood, Jimmy Walker

7:42AM/2:41AM: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Russell Henley, Jovan Rebula (a)

7:53AM/2:52AM: Rory McIlroy, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen

8:04AM/3:03AM: Dustin Johnson, Alex Noren, Charley Hoffman

8:15AM/3:14AM: Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Brendan Steele

8:26AM/3:25AM: Justin Thomas, Francesco Molinari, Branden Grace

8:37AM/3:36AM: Jason Day, Shota Akiyoshi, Haotong Li

8:48AM/3:47AM: Todd Hamilton, Beau Hossler, Jorge Campillo

9:04AM/4:03AM: Ryuko Tokimatsu, Chez Reavie, Michael Kim

9:15AM/4:14AM: Kyle Stanley, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jens Dantorp

9:26AM/4:25AM: Tom Lehman, Dylan Frittelli, Grant Forrest

9:37AM/4:36AM: Lucas Herbert, Min Chel Choi, Jason Kokrak

9:48AM/4:47AM: Padraig Harrington, Bubba Watson, Matt Wallace

9:59AM/4:58AM: Ian Poulter, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka

10:10AM/5:09AM: Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Shubhankar Sharma

10:21AM/5:20AM: Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama, Russell Knox

10:32AM/5:31AM: Jason Dufner, Ryan Fox, Keegan Bradley

10:43AM/5:42AM: Ryan Armour, Abraham Ander, Masahiro Kawamura

10:54AM/5:53AM: Jazz Janewattananond, Fabrizio Zanotti, Jordan Smith

11:05AM/6:04AM: Brett Rumford, Masanori Kobayashi, Jack Senior

11:16AM/6:15AM: Matt Jones, Thomas Curtis, Bronson Burgoon