January 31, 2013
Compliments of our friends at Travel Golf, here are a look at four of the best “fly-under-the-radar courses” in Scottsdale and the West Valley that won’t break the bank. Why not play Arizona this year?!
– The Daily Tee
The Raven is a facility that delivers an elite round of golf without commanding two or three benjis for the privilege (midweek time slots can be had for as low as $50). The Raven’s location just south of Sky Harbor International Airport means the property doesn’t boast the million-year-old boulder piles like Troon North and Boulders Resort. Instead, the course’s beauty is man-made. More than 6,000 Georgia Pines were imported. Designers Gary Panks and David Graham sculpted rolling mounds and giant bunkers to create a grassy, free-swinging layout more akin to the Carolina Sandhills.
Despite much fanfare when it originally opened, the Raven lacked its “A-game” in recent years. But OB Sports assumed management in 2010 and performed some major housekeeping. The Raven should reap the rewards this spring, when happy golfers begin to spread the word.
Another facility that demands a second look is the McDowell Mountain Golf Club (formerly Sanctuary Golf Club). Phil Mickelson led an ownership group that took over the Sanctuary in 2010. Mickelson’s team, along with architect Randy Heckenkemper, revamped the facility to suit both tourist swings and low-handicappers. Playing corridors were widened and some bunkers were filled in, though the back tee yardage was extended to more than 7,000 yards and the practice facility was enhanced to attract range grinders. The project completed this month when the new 11,000-square-foot clubhouse opened, just in time for prime time.
At the historic Wigwam Resort, the Gold Course blends classic bones with modern stoutness. The course plays 7,430 yards from the back tees, long enough to host the Patriot All-America, a top collegiate event. The parkland design by Robert Trent Jones Sr. features raised and intricate greens and directional fairway bunkers, making it one this area’s finest plays for lower-handicap players. For the rest of us, the 6,348-yard gold set provides for a most pleasant and unique round. You also won’t be fishing around desert or tip-toeing around “jumping Cholla” for errant drives; this course is wall-to-wall grass and a mix of mature, native and imported trees that frame each hole (save 40 percent on tee times at GolfNow.com).
Toward the westernmost edge of the Valley is the Raven Golf Club at Verrado, another desert play luring golfers away from the epicenter with great rates and a championship layout. One of the Valley’s newest courses and part of a budding residential development (yes, locals throughout the desert admit the market has picked up quite nicely in the past few months), Verrado’s back nine winds up and down foothills to deliver great variety with scenic downhill holes and tough uphill ones. The higher tee boxes showcase wide fairways you can swing away at, plus a unique view of the distant Phoenix skyline miles to the east.
Story and images courtesy of Brandon Tucker of TravelGolf.com.