Scottsdale calls itself the world’s finest golf destination – and the numbers seem to back up the claim. More than 330 days of sunshine each year and almost 200 public golf courses add up to a golfer’s paradise.
The fact that more than 40 current and former PGA and LPGA TOUR professionals live here attests to the quality of the courses.
A recently conducted market study found the number of rounds played in Scottsdale was up approximately three percent in 2014 compared to 2013. (This comes at a time when participation in golf across North America has been generally flat.)
Over the past few months three of Scottsdale’s most popular courses have undergone significant transformations.
At the iconic Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club, three of the final four holes will be remodeled to enhance playability and ensure an exceptional golf experience well into the future. Designer Tom Fazio reworks his original design by recounting holes 15, 16 and 17, bringing them in closer proximity to the rest of the course and giving golfers more options as they head into the home stretch.
SunRidge Canyon Golf Club, considered among the “Top 20 Best Courses You Can Play” in Arizona by GOLF Magazine, embarked on a summer-long project to further bolster the course’s status. Primarily, this work consisted of rebuilding and resurfacing the putting greens with Champion Ultra Dwarf Bermuda grass, while softening undulations to give SunRidge Canyon some of the fastest, best-rolling greens in the state. A number of bunkers were redesigned and the fairway landing areas were expanded on holes 2, 3 and 11. The practice area was expanded to accommodate a new home for Hot Stix Golf, a leader in technology-based golf club fitting.
The former Tegavah Golf Club in northeast Scottsdale has a new name and new ownership to go along with an ongoing redesign by PGA TOUR star and former Ryder Cup Captain Tom Lehman. The club was purchased by Shea Homes of Arizona and renamed Verde River Golf & Social Club. Though eventually it will be a private club, Verde River will welcome daily-fee guests for the next several years. Lehman is enhancing the golf course, focusing his efforts on rebuilding green complexes and bunkers, as well as modifying the sequencing and routing of several holes to enhance the overall golf experience. The finished product, as well as a new clubhouse by award-winning designer Bing Hu, will be unveiled November 2016.
The Champions Tour concludes its season on Scottsdale’s Desert Mountain Golf Club’s Cochise Course during the The Charles Schwab Cup Championship November 5-8. The top 30 players on the Tour’s official money list – and some of the most accomplished players in PGA TOUR history – compete for the title, as well as their shares of the $2.5 million purse.
Entry into the championship event is based on points earned throughout the Champions Tour season at all official Charles Schwab Cup events. Among those expected to compete are Jeff Maggert, Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer, Marco Dawson and Esteban Toledo.
Also beginning in November, the Thunderbirds and the PGA TOUR will begin work to prepare the TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course for the Greatest Party on Grass, the 2016 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Work will commence to build the grandstands and stadium style seating necessary to accommodate the largest galleries of any golf event in the world. During this time, the course will remain open for public play, giving visitors to Scottsdale a unique opportunity to play a true TOUR-quality venue leading into the main event February 1-7, 2016.
Building Better Golfers
Scottsdale remains a hotbed for game improvement. Long-time stalwarts such as the Fore-Max Golf Fitness program at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, as well as technology-based testing, diagnostic and club-fitting services like Cool Clubs, remain as popular and effective as ever.
Among the new additions is the EXOS Golf Experience Powered by Troon. This three-day immersive program tailors EXOS’ elite training program (clients include San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and PGA TOUR professionals Graham DeLaet, Ricky Barnes and James Hahn) to meet the individual needs of amateur players. Training and evaluations are done both at EXOS’ training facilities and Troon North Golf Club.
Participants receive highly individualized instruction by EXOS’s integrated team of golf instructors, performance specialists, registered dietitians and physical therapists. This results in a fitness program designed to optimize individual performance and health for years to come.
Another high-tech option is the Robo Golf Pro Boot Camp at Scottsdale’s Boccieri Golf. Boccieri’s Research and Performance Center offers an intense, three-day program of golf instruction and analysis. Its centerpiece is an 800-pound technical marvel:the Robo Golf Instructor. This behemoth and its custom-designed computer program allows Boccieri’s team to program physically correct golf swings based upon physique and ability.
As a result, participants are able to feel the proper positioning and sequence of their perfect swing. With repetition and personalized coaching, the new swing becomes ingrained through muscle memory. Limited to four players per session, the Boot Camp aims to provide immediate improvement and includes Titleist Performance evaluation, daily session on the Robo Golf Pro, one round of golf at Desert Mountain with Boccieri teaching professionals and a complimentary custom-fit Heavy Putter.
And the 19th Hole
Grayhawk Golf Club: Phil’s Grill, Quill Creek Café, The Morning Joint, and Isabella’s Kitchen make up some of the best dining spots in Scottsdale, let alone on a golf course. From steak and seafood, to spaghetti and meatballs, there’s a meal at Grayhawk for (almost) everyone.
TPC Scottsdale: The menu at The Grille is classic American. Burgers, sandwiches, fish and chips, and BBQ chicken are some the guest favorites here. With the meal comes the view over the impeccably maintained course, where the popular WM Phoenix Open is played every February.
McDowell Mountain Golf Club: A refurbished clubhouse, extensive menu and sunset views make Mesquite Grille the quintessential golf course dining experience. On chillier nights, the upscale casual vibe invites guests to lounge around the large fireplace.
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club: A short 30 minutes outside of Scottsdale, We-Ko-Pa’s Saguaro Grille and We-Ko-Pa Grille offer great dining experiences and great views. Surrounded by the Tonto National Forest, some of the tallest peaks in the area rise up from untouched Sonoran desert.
Nina Africano is golf editor at Luxe Beat Magazine.