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Hiding in plain sight: Kierland Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona offers 27 holes of urban enjoyment

Bill BowmanBy Bill Bowman,
Kierland Golf Club - Acacia course - hole 9
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The three nine-hole Scott Miller designs at Kierland Golf Club offer a wide variety of challenges. (Courtesy of Kierland G.C.)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tucked in the center of all the hustle and bustle in one of America's best cities sits a hidden golf gem. Welcome to Kierland Golf Club, a 27-hole layout that must be seen to be believed.

"We like to think of it as a city within a city," Director of Golf Kipp Bates said. "It's the greatest location I've been associated with, and the course conditions are the best I've seen in ages."

Bates credits the conditions to Superintendent Nancy Dickens.

"She does an amazing job," he said.

The Scott Miller design includes three nine-hole golf courses that make for a trio of 18-hole options, Ironwood-Acacia, Acacia-Mesquite and Mesquite-Ironwood. They offer golfers a wide variety of challenges and a whole lot of sand.

How much sand? Try more than 300 bunkers. And these aren't your normal, flat bunkers out of which players can putt. These babies are steep, especially around the greens. But on the bright side, the light, smooth sand reacts perfectly to wedge shots.

Acacia is the signature nine at Kierland Golf Club. Walking to the first tee, you'll first notice gently sloping fairways that nudge wide tee shots back to the middle. Next, check out the bunkers that border those nice, plush fairways -- all 10 of 'em. It's a sign of things to come as bunkers definitely serve to show golfers where not to hit throughout the round. Miss that sand and find the fairways, and you're off to a great start on a great golf course.

One of the featured holes -- to play and to photograph -- the par-4 seventh plays 374 yards from the tips. Placement off the tee is paramount, as 14 bunkers guard this short hole. But none intimidates like the eight-foot-high trap behind the green, a brilliant wall of sand that slopes back toward the putting surface.

"It's one of the most photographed holes on the course," Bates said.

The 468-yard, par-4 sixth home on Kierland Golf Club's Mesquite nine may look tame on the card, but Bates warns that it's tough.

"It takes all you've got to get home in two," he said. "This hole is why the Mesquite nine is the toughest of the three."

Kierland Golf Club uses the desert environment to perfection as water comes into play on just three holes -- the ninth of each nine, adding to the beauty and helping to irrigate the golf course.

It sounds cliche, Bates said, but the staff's treatment impresses golfers.

"We're well known for our guest services," he said. "You're a member for a day. We get people saying, 'That's the way I get treated at my club,' and that's what we strive for. Our associates are very personable and accommodating, and that's what people remember."

Kierland Golf Club: In the clubhouse

A friendly staff and wide variety of apparel and equipment make this place worthy of inclusion among the the top 100 golf shops, according Golf World Business Magazine.

Brittlebush Bar and Grille could stand alone as a destination. Whether it's lunch before the round or dinner after -- or just a drink or two -- the menu is as diverse as the swings of the nearby golfers. The atmosphere is bright and airy and the drinks cold. A perfect combination.

Work on your game at Kierland Golf Club

With the warm -- okay, hot -- Scottsdale summers, a covered practice facility makes sense. This one offers shade as you warm up or work on your game.

The LaBauve Golf Academy, run by top 100 instructors Mike and Sandy LaBauve, provides a chance to get help or find a program that will fit your game and your swing.

Kierland Golf Club and the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa

Kierland Golf Club and the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa team to provide golfers and non-golfers an ideal place for that weekend getaway. With 735 guest rooms, including 63 suites and 32 casitas, the accommodations are luxurious and spacious. Add the relaxing mountain views, a full-service spa and pools, and you've got it all. What, you want more? Okay, how about a 900-foot river ride, a waterslide, a kids' club and a workout facility? Oh, and if you've got to work, more than 160,000 square feet of meeting space, both indoor and outdoor, allow your group to get its work done early and enjoy the resort.

Member for a day -- or a week

You can be a member for a day at Kierland Golf Club -- or three days or seven days. "We've started three-day and seven-day unlimited golf packages," Bates said. "It's unlimited everything. You've got access to the spa, food and beverage discounts and shopping right next door. You've pretty much got full run of the joint. You can start your day with golf, hit the spa, have some lunch, lay out by the pool and then have some dinner -- all on property.

"Or you can go shopping next door at Kierland Commons. It really is one-stop shopping here at Kierland."

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Kierland Golf Club - beverage cartKierland Golf Club - Ironwood course - hole 9

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 16-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas and has teed it up for magazine profiles with celebrities including comedian Bill Engvall, actor Jeffrey Donovan (USA's Burn Notice), ESPN personality Colin Cowherd, NASCAR's Kurt Busch, Collective Soul's Ed Roland, the Baltimore Ravens' Jonathan Ogden and many others.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

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