Road Holes — 22 December 2012 by Kirby Arnold
Top Five: Arizona/Phoenix

Where’s the best place to play golf on the West Coast? We’ll give you hundreds of choices.

Golferswest.com begins its annual assessment of the Top Five courses to play within 12 West Coast states and British Columbia. The 25-part series begins today with: Arizona/Phoenix.

NO. 1 COURSE: GRAYHAWK RAPTOR

LOCATION: Scottsdale

DIRECTIONS: From Sky Harbor Airport, drive east on Loop 202 toward Tempe. Take exit 9 to Loop 101 North. Take exit 35, Hayden Rd. Turn right onto Thompson Peak Parkway. Course is on the left.

PHONE: 480-502-1800

OPENED: 1994 (Architect: Tom Fazio)

GREENS FEES: Rates vary, check course website at www.grayhawkgolf.com

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,135 yards from the farthest of four tee positions

LOWDOWN: Grayhawk is a 36-hole facility (pictured), but the Raptor Course is considered by many as the best overall layout in the state with its spectacular desert and mountain views, wide fairways, large undulating greens and numerous bunkers.

The Raptor Course is a public venue that will challenge and reward all handicaps, but it also has a world-class resume that includes several pro tournaments, including the Frys.com Open and the World Match Play Championship.

SIGNATURE HOLE: Any hole known as ‘Aces and Eights’ contains the risk-reward characteristics that leave a permanent impression on a golfer. That’s the par-3 eighth, which plays a seemingly tame 156 yards – unless you take into account three bunkers and a two-tier green that can lure you into a big score.

NO. 2 COURSE: TROON NORTH PINNACLE

LOCATION: Scottsdale

 

Troon North, Pinnacle course

DIRECTIONS: From Sky Harbor Airport, take Loop 202 east to Hwy 101 north. Exit at No. 36, Pima Rd. Right on Pima to Dynamite Blvd. Turn right and go two miles. Course in on the left.

PHONE: 480-585-7700

OPENED: 1995 (Architects: Tom Weiskopf, Tom Morrish)

GREENS FEES: Rates vary, check course website: www.troonnorthgolf.com

LAYOUT: Par-71, 7,025 yards from the farthest of five tee positions

LOWDOWN: The Pinnacle Course was renovated in 2007 and is considered the more challenging of the two courses at Troon North (there’s also the Monument Course). It’s a classic desert layout that takes a golfer through spectacular scenery with Pinnacle Peak as its backdrop.

SIGNATURE HOLE: The par-3 16this only 140 yards, and it plays shorter than that because of an elevated tee. However, the green is guarded by sand on both sides and water in front, so any shot that’s not on the number could result in bogey…or worse.

NO. 3 COURSE: RAVEN GOLF CLUB AT VERRADO

LOCATION: Buckeye

DIRECTIONS: From Sky Harbor Airport, take I-10 west and exit at Verrado Way. Go north then left on Main St. The course is straight ahead.

PHONE: 623-388-3000

 

Raven Golf Club at Verrado

GREENS FEES: Rates vary, check course website: www.ravenatverrado.com

OPENED: 2002 (Architects: John Fought, Tom Lehman)

LAYOUT: Par-72, 7,258 yards from the farthest of four tee positions

LOWDOWN: It’s easy to think of Scottsdale as the hotbed of golf in the Valley of the Sun, but the Raven at Verrado, just 30 minutes from downtown Phoenix, offers a golf experience that’s just as spectacular on the west side of the metro area.

The course meanders through the desert and foothills of the White Tank Mountains with views of the entire Valley from many holes. Golf Digest named it the No. 1 course in Phoenix and GolfWeek recognized it as one of America’s top 40 courses in 2005.

SIGNATURE HOLE: The 310-yard par-4 13thhole dares you to pull out driver and try to reach the green. Do it at your own risk, because the fairway narrows near the green and any ball left or right is likely lost. A false front to the green requires a precision wedge shot even for those who choose to lay up off the tee. Miss it short and the ball will roll back to your feet.

 

TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course

NO. 4 COURSE: TPC SCOTTSDALE STADIUM COURSE

LOCATION: Scottsdale

DIRECTIONS: From Sky Harbor Airport, go to I-10 west. Take exit 147, Az-51 north. Take exit 15A onto Loop 101 east. Get off on Hayden Rd., drive south about a mile and turn right at E. Bell.

PHONE: 480-585-4334

OPENED: 1986 (Architect: Tom Weiskopf)

GREENS FEES: Rates vary, check course website: www.tpc.com/tpc-scottsdale

LAYOUT: Par 71, 7,216 yards from the farthest of four tee positions

LOWDOWN: Home of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, this is every golfer’s opportunity to play where the tour pros tee it up every year.

SIGNATURE HOLE: The par-3 16thplays just 162 yards and may seem relatively tame, but it’s one of the most famous holes in golf. During the tournament, grandstands surround the hole from tee to green with more than 20,000 spectators who chant, cheer and boo.  It’s the Fenway Park of golf, and if you’re lucky enough to play in the weeks before or after the tournament, those grandstands likely will still be up.

NO. 5 COURSE: WIGWAM GOLF COURSE

LOCATION: Litchfield Park

DIRECTIONS: From Sky Harbor Airport, take I-10 west to the Litchfield Rd. exit. Turn north onto Litchfield Road, then right to Wigwam Blvd. Turn left at the roundabout on Old Litchfield Road. The entrance will be on your right.

PHONE: 623-935-3811

OPENED: 1964 (Architect: Robert Trent Jones, Jr.)

GREENS FEES: Rates vary, check website: wigwamresort.com

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,430 yards from the farthest of four tee positions

 

Wigwam Golf Club

LOWDOWN: Unlike the desert-style layouts throughout Arizona, the Wigwam features a parkland setting like you’d find in the Midwest.  Tree-lined fairways, elevated greens and 89 bunkers  on the course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. will challenge every club in the bag.

SIGNATURE HOLE: The par-5 10th hole will test a golfer’s length and accuracy on every shot. It’s 660 yards from the back tee with a left/right dogleg and a 100-yard-long bunker on the right side of the layup area approaching the green. And, like nearly every hole on the Gold Course, the elevated, undulating green is protected front and back with bunkers.

Kirby Arnold

TOMORROW: Arizona/Tucson

 

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Kirby Arnold

Kirby was 10 years old when he played his first round of golf with his grandmother on the sand greens of the Versailles Country Club in Missouri, and his love of the game has never wavered. Only one thing stood between Kirby and a single-digit handicap: his job. Kirby worked 42 years as a sports writer and editor at newspapers in Missouri and Washington. He started while a high school sophomore at the Rolla Daily News in Missouri and covered a variety of events, including his own high school basketball games (he made sure his name was spelled right). He was a sports writer and editor for 10 years at the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, covering Southwest Missouri State University football and basketball, Missouri University football and basketball, and numerous motorsports events including the Indianapolis 500 during the 1970s and 1980s. He moved to the Seattle area in 1984, becoming assistant sports editor at The Herald in Everett, Wa., then executive sports editor from 1987-1998, a time when The Herald's sports coverage was recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as being among the best in the nation for newspapers its size. Kirby returned to the press box in 1999, taking over The Herald's coverage of the Seattle Mariners. He covered the Mariners/baseball beat the next 13 seasons and in 2007 wrote his first book, Tales from the Seattle Mariners Dugout. While Kirby pursued a rewarding newspaper career, one of his lifelong goals remained unfulfilled: breaking 80 on a consistent basis. Kirby left The Herald at the end of 2011, moved to Phoenix and immediately began spending more time at the golf course. His only excuse now is a 12 on the stimpmeter.

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