2003 best of Arizona golf has something for everyone
By Rebecca Larsen,
PHOENIX, Ariz. (Dec. 5, 2003) -- Picking the best of Arizona golf, in itself one of the best venues for golf in the United States, is the kind of task that can keep you awake nights. But here are the nominees.
Best New Courses You Can Play
The Duke at Rancho Eldorado, near Maricopa, south of Phoenix.
Actually, The Duke and Canoa Ranch are probably tied for first. Both are the designs of outstanding architects, David Druzisky at The Duke and Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley at Canoa Ranch. Both offer great rounds at reasonable prices. Canoa Ranch also has wonderful mountain vistas. The Duke should become even better as the course and its landscaping matures.
Best Resorts With Golf
Boulders Resort in Carefree with two courses.
These are all resorts that actually operate golf courses as opposed to those where there is golfing nearby, and all have more than 18 holes of golf available. The big, new places are Kierland, the Marriott and Wild Horse Pass, and they're all great. But nothing compares to the serene beauty and magnificent landscape surrounding the Boulders where you can stay in villas overlooking fairways and greens. The Phoenician is a world-famous hotel with 27 holes of golf besides.
Must-Play Courses for Visitors
The Stadium Course at the Tournament Players Club in Scottsdale.
Not long ago, we surveyed local hotel concierges about the most popular courses. They told us that the first three on our list were the places that tourists most often want to play -- and with good reason. They're superlative. But the last three are also wonderful. The green fees at We-Ko-Pa, designed by Scott Miller, and Las Sendas, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., in particular, are also a better value. All six places are going to be quite unlike anywhere else you have ever played.
Best Scenery in the Phoenix Area
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club in Fountain Hills east of Scottsdale.
Best Scenery in the Tucson Area
Arizona National Golf Club in Sabino Canyon in Tucson.
Talking Stick Golf Club (North and South courses) in Scottsdale.
It's not that these courses are cheap, by any means. But they are places that will cost slightly less than some of the big names that attract travelers in high season. Talking Stick and We-Ko-Pa are both on Native American property. Eagle Mountain is a great desert-target course with lots of challenge. Rancho Manana is a beautifully landscaped mountain-style course in a town that will surprise you with its rustic Old West charm.
Gems That Should Get More Attention
Talking Stick Golf Club (North and South Courses) in Scottsdale.
These are not "underrated" courses; they've gotten their share of great reviews. But because they're a little older now, many people have forgotten about them and how wonderful they are.
Talking Stick was the first modern course built on Native American land. Dove Valley Ranch is a smooth and playable course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Estrella Mountain Ranch is a superb course designed by one of Jack Nicklaus' sons, Jack Nicklaus II, in a rugged mountain setting. Legend Trail, designed by Rees Jones, will remind you of Grayhawk. Longbow, challenging to start with, has been recently renovated by an outstanding Arizona architect Ken Kavanaugh, its original designer.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.