SCOTTSDALE ARIZ – With its top-notch public courses and warm winter weather, Scottsdale has long been a haven for golfers looking for some classic desert golf.
Now they have even more choices with the opening of some new desert courses along with a brand-new Four Seasons Hotel in this upscale Phoenix suburb.
SunRidge Canyon was designed by Keith Foster, who has done several courses in Texas, and is one of the newer courses in the area known by locals as the Valley of the Sun. As the name would suggest, the par 71 course sits in a canyon, but Foster did a brilliant job of incorporating the desert landscape in this public golf layout.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of thorny cactus plants on the property, but the Foster design makes it appear it appear as if he didn’t disturb a single one.
The front nine is fairly flat, while the back side is played up and down the hills of the canyon. The front nine doesn’t return to the clubhouse and the holes are spread out, so golfers feel like they’re on their own private layout. SunRidge Canyon is a pretty an inland layout as you’ll find anywhere in this golf-rich nation.
The closing holes are the three best, with a long, switchback par 5 — measuring 578 yards from the back tees — and the cliff-top par-3 17th, which plays two totally different lengths, depending on where the flag is placed. The finishing hole is an uphill par 4, with a creek on the right and a severely undulated green.
Grayhawk, which recently hosted the Tiger Woods Williams, World Challenge tournament, has 36 holes — the Talon, designed by Dallas’ David Graham, and Raptor courses.
While not as beautiful as SunRidge, perhaps, Grayhawk provides all the challenge any seasoned golfer could want.
Be wary of the super-slick greens, the humpback green which can yield some wicked pin placements and the dozens of deep bunkers.
Winter golf is expensive and business is brisk, but, with the views and the top courses, you’ll certainly get your money’s worth here.