Winter is in full swing here in northern Utah. Ski resorts are humming and there’s snow on the golf courses. Happy holidays! For those like me who may want to get out of the cold and play some golf in some warmer weather, I’ve got some suggestions for you in the Phoenix/Scottsdale Arizona area. Here’s where to play and where to stay!
Here’s a short list of awesome golf courses in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area I highly recommend. Below is my top five, but there are many more great courses one can experience.
Quintero Golf Club
Quintero is a par-72 Rees Jones design roughly a 45 minute drive from Scottsdale. Rees Jones is the son of one of golf’s all-time greatest golf architects, Robert Trent Jones.
Quintero is a mountainside course featuring challenging and scenic elevation changes. Rees Jones does a great job with desert/mountain golf course terrain. The fairways are generous but strategic bunker placement puts a premium on accuracy.
Boulders Golf Resort
The Boulders Golf Resort offers fantastic golf and resort accommodations, renowned as one of the best in the U.S.A. Boulders features 36 holes of golf, the North Course and South Course.
The North Course was designed by Jay Morish and features dramatic panoramas as it winds through huge boulder formations. The South Course, also Jay Morrish, is slightly more challenging than the North. The South requires more accuracy off the tee and better course management.
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club offers 36 holes of highly popular and challenging Arizona golf in the Cholla and Saguaro courses. We-Ko-Pa is located on Indian land and the natural terrain is the foreground to views of the area’s mountains in the distance. No homes on the courses.
Cholla is designed by Scott Miller and provides a tough test with narrow fairways and thick desert to eat up errant shots. The Saguaro is the newest course, designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore. “Crenshaw and Coore” are two of the top modern golf architects whose style tremendously routes their courses through natural, rugged styling. If you haven’t had a chance to play a Crenshaw/Coore course, you really should do it. They’re fantastic.
Grayhawk boasts 36 holes of fantastic Arizona desert golf in the Talon and Raptor courses. The Raptor course was designed by famed golf architect Tom Fazio and features large fairways and highly undulating greens. The errant approaches at the Raptor are often met by deep bunkering. The Talon Course was designed by David Graham and Gary Pranks. The Talon is ranked as one of the “Top 100 in You Can Play U.S.” Tee shots are very challenging at the Talon, especially in the back nine which features many holes in box canyons.
Grayhawk is also known as professional golfer Phil Mickelson’s home course in Arizona.
Troon North features two courses, the Monument course by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, and the Pinnacle Course by Tom Weiskopf.
Below is a shot of the Pinnacle course from one of the last HOG World Tour Arizona trips.
The Monument is rated the #1 public golf course in Arizona. Both courses epitomize Arizona/desert target golf. The Pinnacle course is rated the 3rd best course in Arizona.
I recommend staying at Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley, Arizona. The resort is tremendous, featuring spacious individual accommodations, restaurants, and nearby activities including hiking, swimming, golf, tennis and more.
Above is a photo of my fantastic accommodations from the last HOG World Tour trip to Sanctuary. Winning.
Put It All Together
Scottsdale is a great golf destination, with year-round great weather and very enjoyable and interesting golf courses. Get out of the cold this winter and join your golf buddies for a fantastic golf trip to the desert. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of putting your trip together, I recommend taking advantage of one of the Scottsdale golf packages from Phoenix Scottsdale Golf. Not only will they help you put together a great golf buddy trip to Scottsdale, they’ll save you money.
I had to take a moment to soak in what was happening yesterday. I was in one of those “special golf places” which leaves memories for a lifetime. The contrasting green of Punta Espada Golf Club and the blue waters of the Caribbean were really making me thankful for the opportunities I’ve been able to capitalize on through my 11+ years of hard work on one of the internet’s top golf blogs.
Punta Espada Golf Club is a Jack Nicklaus signature design golf course in the Dominican Republic. Hole after hole lines the Caribbean with dramatic views and thrilling and challenging tee shots over the water. I couldn’t help saying to myself numerous times, “Pebble who?”
I’ve played more Jack Nicklaus courses than I can remember, but this one is different. Many of Jack’s courses can look a little too similar to me, but this one is a one and only, unique experience. Perhaps it’s the terrain. Perhaps Jack was completely in the zone when he designed it. Probably a bit of both.
I’ll be posting my full review in the next few weeks. If you’re planning a Caribbean golf stay and play, I strongly recommend Punta Espada Golf Club.
The final golf day of the 2017 Michigan HOG World Tour event took place on the Wolverine Course at Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City. The Wolverine is a very playable Gary Player signature design which doesn’t beat you up and as tired I was at that point it came as a relief.
I started out birdie-birdie and quickly checked out the course record, LOL. A couple more birdies on the front and I turned in a surprising 2-under 34.
Trying not to completely gag away a good round I managed a 3-over 39 on the back for a rather unexpected and welcomed round of 73, one over. Somehow I had the green reading and speed dialed in.
I’ll be posting a full review of the Wolverine course soon. Stay tuned.
Next up The Bear and boy was it…
One of my bestest golf buddies has a great gig as a pilot. He is able to stop and play golf in many great places and when he finds good ones, he sends me photos. After seeing his latest batch I was inspired to post about Oak Quarry Golf Club, located in Riverside, California.
The course was designed by Dr. Gil Morgan/Schmidt Curley Designs and has won numerous awards. The course plays to a par of 72 and rates vary depending on date and time between $40-$95.
I dig the layout, even from the few pics I’ve seen. This one is definitely on the HOG radar and I hope to bring the HOG World Tour there soon.
Oak Quarry Golf Club Image Gallery
On my recent trip to Morocco I had the opportunity to stay at some truly special and unique places, and I’m excited to share those places and experiences. Today’s review/share is of the Villa Mandarine, in Rabat Morocco.
Before I cover the Villa itself, let’s get some geography information. Rabat is the capitol of Morocco. It is located on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, about one hour northeast of Casablanca.
The city’s population is roughly 580,000. I’ll cover nearby attractions and activities later.
Villa Mandarine Overview
Villa Mandarine is a small, secluded oasis minutes from all the action in Rabat. It’s practically in a residential area, hidden behind a wall around the edge of the property, which is traditional in much Moroccan architecture.
Inside the grounds is a practical rain forest of vegetation, immaculately maintained. The three-acre estate features 700 orange trees and tons of flowers.
Small trails wind around and lead to sitting areas, sculptures, activities, and of course the villas themselves.
There are 31 villas and 5 suites at Villa Mandarine. Each villa has a large main room, entry, large bathroom and fantastic terrace overlooking the grounds.
The quarters are very warm and welcoming, as are the hotel lobby, restaurants, and bar. The luxury rooms are so inviting and relaxing, it’s hard to decide whether to stay in or venture out to the terrace, or the grounds to soak in the mellow vibe.
If you can’t relax here, there’s probably no hope for you.
Along with the beautiful and serene gardens, guests can lounge at the swimming pool and hot tub.
If you fancy a game of ping pong, you’re covered. I had a great match with fellow golf blogger and golf buddy John Duval, from IntoTheGrain.com.
Food & Beverage
The restaurant at Villa Mandarine is fantastic. I enjoyed several meals there, featuring traditional moroccan dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are selections for every possible palette, including a kids menu. Lunch out on the terrace was particularly great, between the excellent food and the fabulous environment.
Villa Mandarine’s bar/lounge is great. Every possible drink is served and the atmosphere is very warm and inviting. I could kick myself… well I have actually been kicking myself, for not enjoying some of the Cuban cigars there.
Nearby Attractions and Activities
There is some fantastic golf nearby, at Dar Es Salaam Golf Club. Dar Es Salaam is an award winning Robert Trent Jones, Sr. design, lined with mature trees and featuring some tremendous golf holes.
In the city of Rabat one can find fantastic shopping and dining at the Medina. Be sure to rock the Kasbah. For sightseeing I recommend visiting the historic Hasaan Tower, and the Mausoleum of Mohammad V. Don’t forget to visit the Royal Palace.
Last but not least, Rabat is on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Visit the beaches and you’ll see why Morocco is a well known secret haven for surfing huge waves.
A visit to Morocco should be on everyone’s bucket list. The sights, tastes, sounds, golf, and experiences will be remembered and cherished for a lifetime. Villa Mandarine fits right into that formula, providing a tremendous, welcoming, and comfortable home base.