You’ve obsessively checked the weather app on your phone, hoping that the temperature hits that sweet spot where, if you bundle up just so, you can maybe trundle off to the driving range and hit a small bucket—okay maybe a medium.
To be sure, there are ranges—and courses—that are open in Colorado, but don’t kid yourself, winter is coming. So why settle for hoping for the random, occasional temperate day? No matter what the calendar says, there are sunny days to be found not too far away from the Centennial State—in Arizona.
In Troon Magazine, local journalist Tom Mackin takes a look at a few of the spectacular choices that are beckoning you.
ARIZONA is home turf for Troon, and the home field advantage pays off big time for golfers. Three decades after the company’s founding, the Troon portfolio remains chock-full of Arizona jewels, many of which are open to public play. Memorable desert landscapes combine with skillfully maintained courses and superior customer service to form unforgettable experiences across the state.
EAGLE MOUNTAIN GOLF CLUB
Fountain Hills / (480) 916-1234 / EagleMtn.com
Nestled in the ravines of the McDowell Mountains, Eagle Mountain Golf Club opened in 1996. The Scott Miller-designed course winds through natural box canyons, rolling hills, and desert valleys. Head Golf Professional Steve Nichols provides some insider info:
Toughest Par 3 – No. 3 plays 210 yards from the back tee to an elevated green. If you miss the green, the short game is challenging.
Memorable Par 4 – The 443-yard dogleg right seventh has a demanding tee shot. The approach shot is uphill and protected by bunkers in front of the green.
Toughest Par 5 – The 535-yard 10th has water down the left side and a narrow layup area. Several bunkers in front of the green make the approach shot especially demanding.
Tricky Green – No. 17 has a very narrow, two-tiered green that falls off on the right side to a deep bunker.
Bunkers To Avoid – Fairway bunkers on Nos. 12 and 18, and the greenside bunker on No. 17.
To Score Well – You need to have a good short game around the greens and course knowledge for putting.
Best Views – From the fourth tee you have great views of the Valley, including various landmarks in Tempe and Camelback Mountain. On the 18th tee there is a dramatic elevation drop down to the green with water and bunkers on the right side. Beautiful views of the mountains make this the signature hole at Eagle Mountain.
Eat/Drink – Try the Santa Fe Chicken Club and Sliders with some local craft beer.
What’s New? A renovation of the practice facility, including enlarging and resurfacing of the putting green and enhancing target greens, was completed this past summer.
THE WESTIN KIERLAND GOLF CLUB
Scottsdale / (480) 922-9283 / KierlandGolf.com
Kierland’s three nines — Acacia, Mesquite, and Ironwood — all reflect architect Scott Miller’s design concept of creating a course that is relatively easy (and fun) to play but difficult to score on. Take heed of these notes from Director of Golf Nancy Dickens.
Toughest Par 3 – The downhill eighth on Acacia plays to a deep green guarded on the right by bunkers.
Demanding Par 4 – No. 6 on Mesquite requires a precise tee shot with trouble down the left side.
Signature Par 5 – The ninth on Acacia drops dramatically downhill off the tee, making it potentially reachable in two. You must avoid the lake down the left side and multiple bunkers on the approach.
Tricky Green – A front pin location on Ironwood No. 4 can spell trouble.
Bunker To Avoid–All bunkers on the Acacia’s par-4 seventh, especially those behind the green, must be avoided!!
To Score Well – Depending on pin location, a player going for the best score will have to place tee shots on the correct side of the fairway to create the best angle of approach.
Best View – The ninth tee on Acacia is the high point of the property, affording a memorable panoramic view.
Eat/Drink – While the food is great and there are plenty of Arizona craft beers to choose from, it’s all about the view from the back patio of the clubhouse’s Brittlebush Bar & Grill!
GOLF CLUB OF ESTRELLA
Goodyear / (623) 386-2600 / EstrellaGolf.com
Located 30 minutes west of downtown Phoenix and 12 miles south of Interstate 10, the Golf Club of Estrella is home to a 7,139-yard layout designed by Jack Nicklaus II. General Manager Trevor Finton offers his perspective:
Toughest Par 3 – The 17th tips out at 194 yards and plays to an elevated green.
Testing Par 4 – On the uphill ninth you have to navigate around an island bunker in the middle of fairway and take enough club on the approach to avoid the false front of the green.
Demanding Par 5 – The 16th plays uphill with multiple rocky washes to cross and a green that tilts from left to right.
Tricky Green – The 14th green looks relatively flat, but there’s much more break than you might think, especially toward the wash left of the green.
Bunkers To Avoid – The island bunker in the middle of the fairway on the ninth.
Best View – From the back tee on 18 you can see the Estrella Mountains and also look back down the 17th hole.
To Score Well – It’s all about putting. There are so many subtle breaks out there and most people overread the greens.
Eat/Drink – Grab a Frito Pie at the turn. It’s an open bag of Fritos with chili, cheese, and jalapeno all mixed together. Five beers on tap are from the nearby Saddle Mountain Brewing Company.
What’s New? Brand new burger menu with seasonal options.
BOULDERS RESORT & SPA
Carefree / (480) 488-9028 / TheBoulders.com
What’s the difference between the North and South Courses at The Boulders? The more scenic South offers up close views of the resort’s namesake boulders, while the North requires a little more course management skills. Here are some observations from Golf Membership Director Brandon Christensen.
Testing Par 3 – From the black and blue tees, the 14th on the North Course is all carry over water and usually plays into the wind.
Toughest Par 4 – No. 5 on the North Course has a large fairway bunker protecting the corner of this sharp dogleg left. Favor the right side of the fairway for an open view to the two-tiered green.
Big Par 5 – The 11th on the South is the longest hole at the Boulders (601 yards from black tees). Avoid the bunker in the middle of the fairway on the second shot and you are likely on the way to a well-deserved par.
Tricky Greens – The 18th hole green is the largest on the South Course, often leaving double breaker putts. The 16th green on the North Course has two levels; stop your approach on the correct one or a three putt may result.
Bunker To Avoid – You won’t want to find yourself in the green side bunker right on the seventh hole on the South Course. There’s a saguaro cactus in the middle of the bunker, and an up and down from behind it is nearly impossible.
To Score Well – Take in the scenery on each tee box so you aren’t distracted by the beauty of the surrounding landscape while trying to hit fairways and greens.
Best Views – On No. 5 (South Course) you’ll be hitting your third shot to a green that lies just below the massive boulders formation. No. 9 (North Course) tee box is one of the highest points in the Boulders community. You’ll have a great view of Black Mountain, various boulder formations, and the clubhouse awaiting your return.
Eat/Drink – There’s nothing better than your favorite beverage and the Grill’s signature burger on the deck overlooking the 18th hole of both courses.
What’s New? New Golf Academy classes coming in 2021.
For more information on other outstanding Troon courses in Arizona, please visit Troon.com.