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Faldo and Palmer courses at Wildfire Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona offer variety and challenge

Bill BowmanBy Bill Bowman,
Wildfire Golf Club - Faldo Course - hole 16
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The Faldo Course at Wildfire Golf Club features devilish and perfectly placed bunkering on every hole. (Courtesy of JW Marriott Wildfire G.C.)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Two of the world's finest golfers -- Arnold Palmer and Nick Faldo -- have left an indelible impression on the golf world at Wildfire Golf Club.

The 36-hole resort, affiliated impeccably with the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa, forms its own little world.

Wildfire Golf Club's Faldo Course, topping out at 6,846 yards, and the Palmer Course, reaching 7,145 from the tips, offer two distinctive golf experiences with similar results -- an amazing round of golf.

"These are two phenomenal golf courses," said John Wright, director of golf at Wildfire. "The Palmer Course is more traditional with a target-style feel, while the Faldo Course is a more Australian-style course with more bunkering."

Both Wildfire golf courses provide amazing views and challenges that will leave even the best players in your group in need of a deep breath before pulling the trigger on the tee.

No matter your choice, you'll find a challenging layout from start to finish. So why not stay overnight and play both?

"When you step on the first tee of both of these world-class golf courses, you'll see why we get a lot of people coming back to play again and again," Wright said. "Two of the world's best golfers did a great job on these two courses. You'll be impressed."

Wildfire Golf Club's Faldo Course

The par-71 Faldo Course at Wildfire Golf Club rates as the shorter of the two in length but never in fear. The design features devilish and perfectly placed bunkering on every hole, forcing players to double-check yardages from the tees and fairways.

Take the par-3 third hole, for example. Playing just 164 yards from the tips, its bunkers short to the left and right force players to use enough club to reach the green. But a bunker long and right -- not to mention a steep drop-off long and left -- adds to the challenge.

In other words, be precise off the tee or prepare to scramble for par.

Another beauty, the par-5 ninth hole, plays 534 yards from the tips, and getting home in two is one tough chore. A great tee shot leaves a fairway wood or long iron for the big hitters to a smallish green surrounded by seven bunkers.

The better play: Lay up to wedge yardage and take dead aim at the pin in search of a chip-in birdie.

Wildfire Golf Club's Palmer Course

The Palmer Course at Wildfire Golf Club is target golf, pure and simple. Ravines cut across many of the fairways and1 present risk-reward options galore.

Can I carry that ravine? If not, what's the best yardage to lay up? Wildfire's Palmer Course requires players to find proper answers to score well on this par-72 layout.

The par-5 ninth, 520 yards from the tips and reachable for some in two, features trouble as a wide desert ravine slices across the fairway off the tee. The more to the left a tee shot veers, the quicker the ravine comes into play. Add a lone bunker some 65 yards short of the green and a dead area in the middle of the fairway, and you've got a lot to manage here. Menacing bunkers left and right also come into play.

While it looks like a birdie chance on the scorecard, often par is a good score.

Palmer and Faldo went to great lengths to make the golf courses tough but fair.

Wildfire Golf Club: In the clubhouse

A warm, friendly staff greets players at the desk and ensures every comfort for your round. You'll receive a guide to the staging area, where you can warm up on the range before heading to one of the two layouts.

JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa

The JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa (www.jwdesertridgeresort.com) houses 950 smoke-free guestrooms, including 81 suites. Top of the line is the Presidential Suite, a 1,890-square-foot palatial room that features a fireplace and workspace. In the master bedroom sits an elevated king bed, bath with a jacuzzi tub, double sinks, a dressing and makeup area and a walk-in closet. Throw in a wet bar and a chef-preparation kitchen, and you're ready for any special occasion.

With 10 restaurants nearby, there's something for every palate. The resort includes shopping experiences and a pool setting -- count 'em, five sparkling pools -- that will appeal to young and old. In all, you've got a family experience second to none.

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Wildfire Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.Wildfire Golf Club - Palmer Course

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.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Zzzzzz

    Jim wrote on: May 7, 2011

    Zzzzz boring.