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Longbow #6

Where to Play in Scottsdale?

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Of all the things in life to look forward to, vacations certainly rank towards the top of the list. And although for many the chief goal of a vacation is to do nothing at all, a trip to Scottsdale provides much more than comfortable spot to languish in the sunshine. Nothing illustrates this notion better than a Scottsdale golf vacation. The place is loaded with great golf courses, some with similar virtues and others that seem to occupy a category all their own. Where should you play? That’s hard to say, but hopefully after reading the following, you’ll be able to tell us where you fit into the rich and diverse Scottsdale golf scene.

A pack of golf clubs that include The Boulders, Troon North Golf Club, Grayhawk Golf Club, We-Ko-Pa Golf Club and TPC Scottsdale reside on top of the heap, each offering its own spin on a tried-and-true formula of Sonoran Desert and sunshine. The golf courses at The Boulders snake their way through some of the most picturesque real estate in the state. Troon North is so beautiful it’s almost distracting. Grayhawk’s rock ‘n’roll attitude appeals to the Puma crowd. We-Ko-Pa is surrounded by unspoiled desert and nothing else. And at TPC Scottsdale, mere mortals can tee it up on the track where tour players compete each year during the Waste Management Phoenix Open, including the raucous 16th hole.

Scottsdale also offers other desert-golf superstars that probably wouldn’t hoist the cup if pitted head-to-head with the above clubs, but would certainly roll up a bunch of top-10 finishes. Eagle Mountain Golf Club and SunRidge Canyon Golf Club deliver outstanding desert-golf experiences from their perched position high in the McDowell Mountains. Decidedly more tame in terms of elevation change, but still on par, The Sanctuary at WestWorld, Legend Trail and TPC Scottsdale’s Champions Course also fit into a category of Scottsdale golf courses that offer a mid-to-upper level desert golf experience.

Although everybody knows that Scottsdale means desert golf, not many know that it’s also home to great traditional layouts as well. Camelback Golf Club and McCormick Ranch Golf Club represent two of the best examples of Scottsdale’s more traditional courses that emerged prior to the desert-golf boom. They both feature shimmering water hazards and fairways lined by towering palm, pine and eucalyptus trees, in addition to views of nearby Camelback and Mummy Mountains. Ocotillo Golf Club is another example of a traditional experience highlighted by the course’s numerous water hazards. And ASU Karsten Golf Course, located just south of Scottsdale on the Arizona State University campus, offers links-style golf. Taken together, these tracks offer golfers an intriguing departure from high-profile desert tracks to the north.

Scottsdale is home to a handful of clubs that are located next to the best nightlife, shopping and dining that the city has to offer. For clubs like Kierland and The Phoenician, it’s location, location, location that sets them apart. Although the golf courses stand tall on their own, the fact that they’re so close to the action is icing on the cake. In north Scottsdale, Kierland is a good example, with Kierland Commons and Scottsdale Quarter situated next door; and in south Scottsdale, The Phoenician sits minutes away from Scottsdale Fashion Square and all the attractions of Old Town Scottsdale. This particularly comes in handy for families or groups with differing interests. The golfers and non-golfers simply peel off to their activity of choice and reunite later in the day.

Talking Stick and Longbow Golf Clubs sit atop the batting order for those enjoying Scottsdale’s Cactus League action. The two tracks at Talking Stick are located next door to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick – a new Spring Training facility shared by the Diamondbacks and Rockies. And Longbow is located minutes from HoHoKam Park, home of the Cubs. Both golf clubs offer mid-to-upper-range desert-golf experiences that are a bit more forgiving than most, with no homes or other developments intruding into the interior of the playing field.

Scottsdale draws golfers to the Valley of the Sun like moths to a flame, with the uniqueness of the Sonoran Desert and reliably good weather leading the way, and when one digs below the surface, it also become clear that Scottsdale offers a wide selection of golf experiences. Those who take a moment to assess this variety will come to the conclusion that there’s something for everyone. What’s your flavor?