Home Field Advantage: It’s Arizona Time

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE IIT"S ARIZONA TIME: 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.

Fountain Hills / (480) 816-1234 / www.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.

Scottsdale / (480) 922-9283 / www.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!

Goodyear / (623) 386-2600 / www.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 over-read 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.

Carefree / (480) 488-9028 / www.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.

Mesa / (480) 807-5400 / www.LongbowGolf.com

Located 30 minutes east of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Longbow Golf Club is a popular tournament venue that is also well known as a “second shot” course. General Manager Bob McNichols guides you around the facility:

Testing Par 3 – No. 16 has a green sloping downward and away from the front right entrance to the green. The player is wiser the second time out on this challenging par 3.

Toughest Par 4 – Formerly the 18th hole in the original course routing, the fourth is a challenging dogleg left with lake frontage from 200 yards out to the back of the green. Mean Green – The elevated 10th green slopes away from the middle in all directions, like many greens at famed Pinehurst No. 2.

Best View – Red Mountain and the McDowell Mountains are framed perfectly looking north from next to the fourth green through the teeing area of the fifth, and on to the beach bunker and green complex of the sixth.

Eat/Drink – For the past two years Longbow Golf Club has won the “Best Burger in Mesa” challenge sponsored by the Mesa Chamber of Commerce. Add to that some made-inhouse potato chips browned and salted to perfection. Enjoy both on the large patio next to 18 green.

What’s New? The recently installed Longbow Toptracer Range makes practice perfect with swing stats sent via an app to your smart phone. Coming next is RV parking for overnight stays and plays. A 111-room Hilton Home2 Suites at Longbow is set to open in spring 2021.

Wickenburg / (928) 668-5535 / www.WickenburgRanch.com

The Big Wick course at Wickenburg Ranch more than lives up to its name, with outsized views of the surrounding landscape and its fair share of memorable holes. Steve Outlaw, Director of Golf, surveys the scene:

Top Par 3 – No question that this is the 13th hole known as “Big Water.” A 246-yard downhill shot from the tips over water, it usually plays into a prevailing wind.

Memorable Par 5 – “Round the Bend” is another name for No. 5, the No. 1 handicap hole where the elevated tee shot must avoid trouble down the right side. A precise layup is required short of the wash to setup the best approach. Then you have an uphill approach shot to an undulating green with multiple levels.

Tricky Green – The multi-tiered green on No. 5. With the undulating surface, finding a straight putt is unusual. Bunker(s) To Avoid – With four of the five par 5s featuring uphill approaches, avoiding the greenside bunkers on all of them is crucial to good scoring.

To Score Well – You must hit your approaches to the proper sections of the greens, and lag putting is extremely handy if approach play is not your strength.

Best View – Featuring vast views of the course and Vulture Peak, the 14th hole is definitely the best place to take in the scenery.

Eat/Drink – Shaved beef and cheese sandwich at Jake’s Spoon; Li’l Wick fish tacos at the Watering Hole; rosemary ginger margarita or the Jack Skellington cocktail.

Chandler / (480) 940-1500 / www.WhirlwindGolf.com

Located just 11 miles south of downtown Phoenix, Whirlwind Golf Club is home to two courses — Devil’s Claw and Cattail — that both celebrate 20th anniversaries this year. General Manager Louie Unga shares some key points about the layouts and more:

Taxing Par 3 – The 12th on Devil’s Claw has a well guarded, double-tiered green with bunkers on both sides and water on the right.

Beefy Par 5 – No. 12 on Cattail, one of the longer par 5s at Whirlwind, has water that can come into play on two shots. Gnarly bunkers also protect a green that is a bit smaller than most on the course.

Scariest Green – The 14th green on Cattail lies right next to a water hazard and slopes severely toward it. It’s so intimidating that you might most be tempted to bail out to the right, but that leaves an even more intimidating pitch shot. Aim for the middle of this green.

To Score Well – Know your yardages, especially while playing in the afternoon when the wind often kicks up.

Best View – The seventh on Devil’s Claw (featured on the cover of this year’s global Troon Card brochure) offers a beautiful view of “Dragonfly Falls” against the backdrop of the Estrella Mountains.

Eat/Drink – Must try the PB&J Buffalo burger or the signature Cubano Mexicano sandwich. The wings in the Sivlik Grill are the best in the Valley. Try them with house made Scorpion Nectar sauce.

What’s New? A complete renovation of bunkers and tee boxes on Cattail is scheduled for the summer of 2021.

Maricopa / (480) 367-8949 / www.AkChinSouthernDunes.com

Consistently living up to its reputation as both a quality tournament venue and a fun layout, Ak-Chin Southern Dunes remains one of the purest golf experiences in Arizona. General Manager Brady Wilson shares his knowledge:

Tricky Par 3 – The sixth, which can play 248 yards from the tips. The challenge here is a green complex designed for a 9-iron (the hole was lengthened shortly after being built to avoid having two short par 3s on the front nine) that plays to a hybrid yardage.

Toughest Par 5 – The third has a forced carry off the tee, large bunkering on both sides of the fairway, and a two-tiered, undulating green.

Complex Green – No. 9 green has a large bowl in the middle right of it that captures any errant approach shots, the back tier is shaped like a saddle, and the front tier slopes hard from left to right, towards the bowl.

To Score Well – Some of the best and truest greens in the Valley should result in more makes than misses.

Best View – Standing in the ninth fairway you can see the clubhouse in front of you beyond the green while behind you loom the Estrella Mountains.

Eat/Drink – The famous milkshakes, of course. Also highly recommended are the house smoked chicken wings; get them plain with salt and pepper and have all the dipping sauces on the side.

Scottsdale / (480) 423-2449 / www.GolfThePhoenician.com

Nestled at the base of Camelback Mountain, the course at The Phoenician continues to get rave reviews after debuting a new routing and multiple new holes in 2018. Director of Instruction Michael Lamanna explains why:

Best Par 3 – The fifth can play 223 yards uphill from the back tee and is guarded by bunkers left, short, and right.

Memorable Par 5 – No. 18 is a perfect risk/reward hole where a lake might come into play off the tee and then definitely on the approach shot, creating some serious pressure if you go for the green in two.

To Score Well – You must be skilled at reading greens. Many of the green complexes here have four different drainage areas, which makes reading them a challenge.

Best Views – The highest point on the course is at the 13th tee and 14th green. You’ll have fantastic panoramic views looking down at central Phoenix, the McDowell and Superstition Mountains, Papago Mountain, and the Arizona State campus.

Eat/Drink – The Phoenician Tavern in the clubhouse features craft beers, cocktails, and pub grub in a fun, sports bar atmosphere.

What’s New? Golf carts are outfitted with the “Shark Experience,” featuring high-definition touch screens and builtin speakers for playing music and watching live sports, news, and entertainment, along with GPS yardages.

Phoenix / (602) 866-6356 / www.PointeGolf.com

This aptly named layout has many peaks and valleys, not to mention some of the quicker greens around the greater Phoenix area. Brett Trenter, Director of Golf & Recreation at Lookout Mountain Golf Club, shares his advice regarding the course:

Testing Par 3 – The tee shot on 16 is all carry. A large greenside bunker is not a good bailout; neither is long and there is very little fairway on the left side of the hole.

Memorable Par 5 – If you find the fairway on No. 7, you’ll be tempted into making poor club choices as the lay-up might not appear worth it. The green sits elevated and has a slight false front that really steepens back to the fairway.

Bunker To Avoid – The large bunker fronting the green on the first hole. The pin is typically placed right behind it, making it an especially tough shot because you’re just starting the round.

To Score Well – Keep approaches below the hole. The greens are usually of considerable speed, and chances of making putts from above the hole are minimal. Just two-putting from above is a victory.

Best View – The panoramic scenery from the 10th tee is so good it has its own hastag: #highestteeinphoenix.

What’s New? Three annual membership options: full access; weekdays (Mon. – Thur.); and twilight golf.

Scottsdale / (480) 585-7700 / www.TroonNorthGolf.com

The original Troon facility, home to the Monument and Pinnacle courses, Troon North remains a must-play for both locals and visitors. General Manager Brian Thorne provides many reasons why that reputation still stands after three decades:

Top Par 3s – The 16th on the Monument Course is a tough downhill shot (244 yards from the back tee) that can play 1-2 clubs shorter with the elevation change. The sixth on Pinnacle is a deceiving downhill shot to a wide green that is not very deep; you cannot miss long or left.

Tricky Greens – The fifth on Monument has large but subtle breaks, repels balls to a collection area on the left, and is a tough green to hit despite it’s size. The fourth on Pinnacle has a smaller green severely sloped from back to front with a subtle swale in the middle. Putts here always break more than you think.

To Score Well – You must hit fairways on both courses!!

Best Views – On Monument holes 15-18 you can see the entire north Valley up to Cave Creek. From the third tee box on Pinnacle, you can see the white roof of State Farm Stadium (home of the Arizona Cardinals) 30 miles away in Glendale.

Eat/Drink – Shrimp tacos, short rib sliders, prickly pear margarita.

Indulge Your Inner Thrill-Seeker! Experience Arizona’s finest courses at the best available rates, plus check out vacation packages or plan group outings by visiting TroonGolfAZ.com!

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