Take it A-Z

Arizona_Boulders_Resort
Boulders Resort & Spa

An alphabetic arrangement singing the golf praises of Colorado’s southwestern neighbor

By Jon Rizzi

Even if Glen Frey were standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, no girl in a flatbed Ford could find him a golf game within 25 miles. But in a state with more 300 courses and a rich golf culture, the late Eagles guitarist (he co-wrote and sang “Take It Easy”) and golf nut could have teed it up just about anywhere else—and most probably did. Inspired by Frey—a longtime Colorado resident and major supporter of Aspen Junior Golf—we present “Take It A-Z,” an alphabetic arrangement singing the golf praises of Colorado’s southwestern neighbor.

A is for Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club, a Lee Schmidt-Brian Curley collaboration with Fred Couples in Maricopa—25 miles from Sky Harbor Airport. Golf magazine has ranked the Australian Sandhills design #84 its 100 Greatest Public Courses, and the challenging 7,546-yard layout annually serves as a U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying venue. The milkshakes in the clubhouse provide a tasty reward. akchinsoutherndunes.com

B is for The Boulders in aptly named Carefree, just north Scottsdale. Rugged, refined and impossibly romantic, the 1,300-acre property recently underwent major upgrades, resulting in Travel + Leisure readers voting in the Best Hotel in the Arizona and Golf Digest rating it the best Golf Resort in the Southwest. The Jay Morrish-designed North and South Courses boast the massive geologic formations from which the resort takes its name. theboulders.com

C is for Camelback Mountain, a prominent landmark in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area that serves hikers on its Echo Canyon and Cholla Trails and rock climbers with its Praying Monk sandstone formation. At the base crouches the plush JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Paradise Valley, home of a 32,000-square-foot spa and wellness facility as well as Camelback Golf Club’s Ambiente and Padre golf courses. camelbackinn.com

CamelBack_Inn_Jackrabbit_Pool
Camelback Inn’s Jackrabbit Pool

D is for Desert Highlands and Desert Mountain, two of the definitive private golf experiences in Arizona. Built in 1983 on Pinnacle Peak just north of Scottsdale, Desert Highlands’ Jack Nicklaus-designed course hosted the inaugural Skins Game, and its 13 tennis courts (four grass, six clay, and three hard-court) feature all the grand slam surfaces. Desert Mountain’s 8,000 acres boast the same variety of tennis options, as well as six Nicklaus Signature courses and a soon-to-open 90-acre, 18-hole par-3 called Seven. deserthighlandsscottsdale.com; desertmountain.com

E is for El Conquistador Golf & Tennis, a Hilton Resort in Tucson’s Oro Valley. Forty-five holes of Greg Nash/Jeff Hardin-designed family-friendly golf (including the spunky Pusch X9 executive course), 31 lighted tennis courts, five pools (including one with a 143-foot “Sliderock” water slide), four pickleball courts and an Elements Wellness Center highlight the property set amid the 5,300-foot cliffs of Pusch Ridge. hiltonelconquistador.com

F is for Fred Enke, the longtime University of Arizona men’s basketball coach after whom one of City of Tucson’s five challenging municipal courses (Enke, Silverbell, El Rio, Randolph North and Randolph Dell Urich) is named. Two of those courses— El Rio and Randolph North—hosted 25 editions the PGA TOUR’s Tucson Open. tucsoncitygolf.com

G is for Grayhawk Golf Club in North Scottsdale, which since opening in 1994 has welcomed the world’s best amateurs and professionals to its Tom Fazio-designed Raptor Course and Panks/Graham-designed Talon layouts. Grayhawk hosted three PGA Tour events, two WGC championships and a Williams World Challenge. The first of three consecutive NCAA Men’s and Women’s Championships will take place here beginning in 2020. kgrayhawkgolf.com

H is for the HoHoKam Golf Classic, which the Chicago Cubs Charities stage every December at Longbow Golf Club, located near the team’s Spring Training facility in Mesa. With all proceeds benefiting the Mesa Hohokam Foundation, the event has raised more than $1.5 million in direct funding for youth sports activities in the Phoenix’s East Valley. hohokams.org; longbowgolf.com

I is for the Inn at Eagle Mountain, a boutique hotel that perches above Eagle Mountain Golf Club, presenting stunning views of Fountain Hills, Scottsdale and the Sonoran Desert. Minutes from the courses at We-Ko-Pa and Sunridge Canyon, the inn offers a unique Southwest touch— vaulted ceilings, luxurious southwestern decor, petroglyph-style fixtures, a kiva gas fireplace and access to the Life In Balance Wellness Center. Pietro’s, the inn’s Italian restaurant, serves wines from Flora Springs—the Napa winery also owned by the inn’s proprietor, John Komes. innateaglemountain.com

Arizona_Javelina_Project
The Javelina Project

J is for The Javelina Project, an initiative led by the Tubac Center for the Arts. Sponsored in part by Tubac Golf Resort & Spa (tubacgolfresort.com)—the cover subject of our Fall issue—the project aims to promote Tubac’s vibrant arts scene and tourism by filling the town with colorful javelina sculptures painted by area artists. thejavelinaproject.org

K is for Kierland Golf Club, the 27-hole facility affiliated with the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa near the Kierland Commons retail and entertainment area in northeast Scottsdale. Ranked by Golf Digest as one of “America’s 9 Most Cheerful Golf Courses,” Kierland lets you traverse the Scott Miller-designed course via Segway, GolfBoard Golf Bike or TurfRider scooter. You can even play in a kilt and afterwards do “research” in the resort’s Scotch Library. kierlandgolf.com

L is for the award-winning La Paloma Golf Club at the sumptuous Westin La Paloma in Tucson. Jack Nicklaus designed the three nines—Hill, Canyon and Ridge—in harmony with surrounding desert. Open only to hotel guests and club members, La Paloma is also part of the Troon Privé network. westinlapalomaresort.com

Westin_La_Paloma_Golf_Club
La Paloma Golf Club

M is for Marana, the town 25 minutes northwest of Tucson that’s home to the 36-hole Gallery Golf Club and 27-hole Dove Mountain Golf Club—both of which hosted the WGC Championships. Contact the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, about its 63-hole World Match Play Golf package comprising both courses. ritzcarlton.comwhisperrockgolf.com

N is for Notah Begay III, the PGA Tour professional and NBC Golf Analyst who co-designed Sewailo Golf Club with Ty Butler for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s spectacular Casino Del Sol in Tucson. The home course for the University of Arizona golf teams stretches to 7,400 yards and features five sets of tees, 14 acres of lakes and 40,000 native plants. casinodelsol.com

O is for the Orange Sky restaurant atop Talking Stick Resort. Delectable cuisine matches with the sunset views that inspired the restaurant’s name. Talking Stick Golf Club, walking distance to Rockies “home” games during Spring Training, boasts two 18-hole Coore-Crenshaw layouts—the links style O’odham Course and tree-lined Piipaash Course. talkingstickresort.com

P is for Papago Golf Course. Phoenix’s foremost muni has taken the place of ASU Karsten as the home of the Arizona State University golf teams for the next 30 years. With alum Phil Mickelson designing the team’s range and a five-acre short-game practice area, Papago also features a new $5 million clubhouse with a large dining room and patio seating that overlooks the golf course and the Papago buttes. papagogolfcourse.net

Q is for Quintero Golf and Country Club, the formerly private Rees Jones/Steve Weisser design that recently crashed Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses as Arizona’s top-rated public course. Located west of Phoenix in Peoria—also home to the worthy Trilogy at Vistancia—the 7,208-yard layout rollicks memorably through the area’s diverse and magnificently scenic landscape. quinterogolf.com

Raven_Golf_Clubs_Verrado
Raven Golf Club

R is for Raven golf clubs at Verrado and Phoenix. The John Fought-designed Raven at Verrado in Buckeye (northwest of Phoenix) provides a country-club experience, while the Gary Panks/David Graham design formerly known as Raven at South Mountain, suggests a location in the North Carolina pines. The latter is an easy hop from Sky Harbor Airport, making it a good choice as the first or last round during your visit. ravengolf.com

S is for Show Low, a town—similar to Sedona and Flagstaff—not exactly known as a snowbird golf destination but as a potential reprieve from the Front Range’s sweltering summers. Situated at 6,200 feet in the White Mountains 165 miles northeast of Scottsdale, Show Low’s Torreon Golf Club is a year-round, pine-lined haven with 36 holes of Robert Van Hagge golf, access to skiing and an attractive “Taste of Torreon” try before- you-buy package. torreon.com

T is for Troon Golf, the Scottsdale-based management company with more than 200 public and private courses in 31 countries. Its Troon Rewards card earns points at high-end courses such as the 36-hole Troon North Golf Club (troonnorthgolf.com) in Scottsdale and Whirlwind Golf Club at Wild Horse Pass (whirlwindgolf.com) in Chandler; The Golf Club of Estrella (estrellagolf.com) in Goodyear; and others, including the above-mentioned Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, Westin Kierland, Sewailo and The Boulders. Troon Privé, its private network, has privileges at Peoria’s Blackstone at Vistancia (vistancia.com), Flagstaff ’s Pine Canyon (pinecanyon.net), Wickenburg Ranch (wickenburgranch.com) and more. troongolf.com

Whirlwind_Golf_Club
Whirlwind Golf Club at Wild Horse Pass

U is for the University of Arizona’s former home course, Arizona National Golf Club. Annika Sorenstam and Jim Furyk had already left when the course opened in 1995, but Natalie Gulbis, Rory Sabbatini and recent grad Lorena Ochoa all honed their chops on the Robert Trent Jones Jr. layout in Tucson’s Santa Catalina foothills. arizonanationalgolfclub.com

V is for “Verde,” a word that greens up a trio of stellar private golf developments along the Verde River in the McDowell foothills near the Tonto National Forest. The oldest, Rio Verde Country Club (rioverdearizona.com), boasts two courses, six tennis courts and a flood of amenities; the 36 holes at Tonto Verde (tontoverde.org) sport some of the state’s best greens; and the course at Verde River Golf & Social Club (mytrilogylife.com/verderiver) recently underwent a Tom Lehman revamp (and currently accepts daily-fee play) as it became part of Shea Homes’ new Trilogy at Verde River Community.

W is for the Waste Management Open otherwise known as the Greatest Show on Grass. Some love the raucous atmosphere, some hate it, but last winter’s spectacle drew a record 719,179 fans to the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale. The three-story stadium setup on the notorious 16th hole invites a level of rowdiness unseen at any event other than the Ryder Cup. See for yourself Jan 31– Feb 3. wmphoenixopen.com

X is for Xtreme. At least that’s how Bob Parsons, the multibillionaire creator of PXG (Parsons Xtreme Golf ), spells it. Get custom-fit at PXG’s Scottsdale headquarters with the same brand of equipment used by Zach Johnson, Pat Perez, Lydia Ko, Billy Horschel and Colorado’s own Wyndham Clark. Or splurge on the PXG Xperience, which includes VIP lodging, transportation, dining, the full-bag fitting and rounds on Scottsdale National’s Mineshaft Course, The Other Course and The Bad Little Nine—all of which Parsons also owns. pxg.com

Y is for the Yavapai Nation, which owns the two striking layouts at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club— the Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw-designed Saguaro Course and the Scott Miller-designed Cholla Course. Golfweek rates Saguaro as the best public course in Arizona, and Golf puts both in the top 50 among the Top 100 Courses You Can Play. wekopa.com

Z is for Z’Tejas Grill. With locations in Chandler and Paradise Valley, this shrine to Southwestern fare serves skillet-fresh cornbread with honey butter alongside its signature green chile barbacoa enchiladas, Smoked Chicken Chile Rellenos and dozens of similarly piquant dishes. ztejas.com


Colorado AvidGolfer Magazine is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.

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