Duf­fer’s de­light

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - FRONT PAGE -

TEN days, 10 games, 10 dif­fer­ent tracks! Af­ter sam­pling a mix­ture of Ari­zona cour­ses, I came to ap­pre­ci­ate why the state has be­come such a pop­u­lar golf desti­na­tion for golfers.

Find­ing Man­i­to­bans on an Ari­zona golf course from Novem­ber to March is as easy as spot­ting snow­drifts in Winnipeg.

And since the United States hous­ing bust a few years ago, Man­i­to­bans have pur­chased prop­er­ties in a near-herd­ing men­tal­ity. There are ar­eas of Scotts­dale, Mesa, and Tempe that are viewed as Cana­dian sub­di­vi­sions be­cause of the pre­pon­der­ance of snow­bird pur­chases.

The avail­abil­ity of qual­ity golf op­tions is one of the prime mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tors that keep draw­ing Man­i­to­bans to the state.

Trav­el­ling with a fel­low Winnipeg golf en­thu­si­ast, our jour­ney would be­gin in Tuc­son on the evening of U.S. Thanks­giv­ing Day.

Ar­riv­ing at our Loews Re­sort prop­erty at 10 p.m., af­ter the drive from Phoenix, and not hav­ing eaten since lunch, we quickly dis­cov­ered find­ing an open restau­rant dur­ing this im­por­tant day of celebration was go­ing to be a chal­lenge.

Af­ter many tries, with even McDon­ald’s out­lets shut down, we fi­nally had to re­sort to choos­ing from what was avail­able at the near­est ser­vice sta­tion.

Af­ter aim­lessly wan­der­ing the aisles, there it was, pack­aged un­der a brand called Hun­gry Man. In­deed, that was me!

And it was Thanks­giv­ing Day af­ter all. So I cel­e­brated the oc­ca­sion with a frozen tur­key din­ner, which in­cluded dress­ing, mashed pota­toes plus all the trim­mings our Amer­i­can friends might have en­joyed ear­lier in the evening.

Af­ter al­most 14 hours of hunger, I con­cluded no home-cooked meal could have ri­valled this one at the time.

But our big­ger hunger was for golf, and with over 200 cour­ses in the Phoenix-to-Tuc­son re­gion we could only hope to cap­ture a taste of th­ese menu op­tions. But the va­ri­ety we went with did al­low us to cap­ture a sense of the qual­ity and dy­namic of Ari­zona golf.

For those plan­ning a visit to the area here is my overview of the 10 selec­tions that I ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing this Ari­zona visit.

There are two 18-hole cour­ses on this na­tive­owned land sit­u­ated just east of Scotts­dale.

While most mod­ern golf cour­ses are sur­rounded by hous­ing de­vel­op­ments that of­ten seem to in­fringe on the fair­ways, no such ob­struc­tions will be found at We-Ko-Pa.

Owned and op­er­ated by the Fort McDow­ell Yava­pai Na­tion, this course yields some of the most dra­matic views of the Sonaran Desert and the sur­round­ing moun­tains. We golfed on the Cholla Course, de­signed by Scott Miller. It is a rel­a­tively nar­row course with hill­side un­du­la­tions that bring their own chal­lenges.

While the views are spec­tac­u­lar it should be known this is a year-round cart-path-only club. As a re­sult, play will be slower, and de­pend­ing upon your ac­cu­racy there can be a fair bit of hill­side walk­ing in­volved.

Sand traps, desert, and moun­tain views are what the best PGA play­ers will face when they com­pete in the WGC Ac­cen­ture Match Play Cham­pi­onship from Feb. 17-23.

At 7,833 yards, and loaded with sand traps along the way, the best of pro­fes­sion­als will strug­gle to score well on this Jack Nick­laus-de­signed desert walk.

Luck­ily there are five tee boxes to choose from, so even the ca­sual golfer can en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence of this exquisitely struc­tured course.

Sit­u­ated only a few min­utes off the I-10, near the com­mu­nity of Marana, it is easy to get to from ei­ther Tuc­son or Phoenix.

Sit­u­ated in the heart of Phoenix it­self, this is a most en­joy­able course to golf.

With its va­ri­ety of el­e­va­tions, this is a track of­fer­ing many scenic op­por­tu­ni­ties, in a well-main­tained lush flow through the Ta­p­a­tio cliffs.

Highly rated by a num­ber of golf mag­a­zines it has con­sis­tently re­ceived Golf Digest’s four-star award over the past nine years.

Run by the world­wide Troon Golf or­ga­ni­za­tion, you will be well-greeted and treated through­out your time here, en­hanc­ing the golf ex­pe­ri­ence.

Sit­ting in the Dif­fer­ent Pointe of View restau­rant at the end of a game will cre­ate an in­deli­ble im­print of why the course was chris­tened Look­out Moun­tain.

This is a Scotts­dale golf ex­pe­ri­ence that should not be missed.

There are two cour­ses from which to choose, de­signed and then re­designed by Bri­tish Open cham­pion Tom Weiskopf. Both re­ally are won­ders to be­hold.

We golfed on the Mon­u­ment track, aptly named for its huge gran­ite stone struc­tures that stand as stat­ues in the mid­dle of fair­ways.

The club­house of the Ven­tana Canyon golf club is sit­u­ated im­me­di­ately ad­ja­cent to the Loews Ven­tana Canyon Re­sort, which was our ac­com­mo­da­tion dur­ing the Tuc­son por­tion of our stay.

There were more changes in el­e­va­tion on this course than any we golfed dur­ing the en­tire 10-day pe­riod. The sig­na­ture third hole of this course is a par-3 el­e­vated tee box that tra­verses over 100 yards of cac­tus and canyon be­fore it drops into a tight, un­du­lat­ing green many yards be­low.

Only the fittest would ever at­tempt to walk this course and still hope to achieve a rea­son­able score.

At 6 a.m. in the Sono­ran Desert, it’s chilly and we’re wrapped up in a cou­ple of lay­ers as the sun, just be­low the hori­zon, teases us with what will surely be a hot day. For now, we’re shiv­er­ing and wait­ing for the mas­sive silk fab­ric in bril­liant shades of orange and yel­low to un­furl. It’ll be our trans­porta­tion over the Sono­ran Desert for the next cou­ple of hours.

Once we’re up, up and away, it’s not long be­fore the chill is gone. A whoosh of hot air en­velops us from the flame that pro­pels what is the old­est hu­man air­borne trans­port.

Our cap­tain — this is an air­craft, af­ter all — re­gales us with sto­ries of bal­loon­ing the rich and fa­mous, such as Mick Jag­ger’s fam­ily over the French coun­try­side.

But we or­di­nary scenery-chasers are hav­ing just as much fun. The beauty of the desert is its pre­dictable same­ness.

As one Na­tional Ge­o­graphic scribe writes, “The Sono­ran Desert is an ecosys­tem in need of a pub­lic-re­la­tions makeover.”

Be­cause of its con­ve­nient prox­im­ity, we golfed both of the Ven­tana cour­ses.

It proved to be an ex­cel­lent de­ci­sion, with the Canyon Course of­fer­ing an en­tirely dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence than the Moun­tain Course.

This course might be re­named the na­ture course for its abun­dance of wildlife we spot­ted along the way.

A bob­cat that shad­owed us along a hole was par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing. The ebb and flow of the canyon stretches its way along­side the desert homes that ring most of the course.

At­tached to the Westin Kier­land Ho­tel, the pack­age of­fer­ings at this club are unique.

Here you can forgo golf-cart trans­porta­tion in favour of a spe­cially de­signed Seg­way golf trans­porter. As another part of the op­tional ex­tras, guests can take ad­van­tage of the in­no­va­tive Fore-Max golf train­ing fit­ness pro­gram.

My mus­cles were plenty sore af­ter our ses­sion. With the CD I brought home, I trust I will im­prove my flex­i­bil­ity and strengthen those mus­cles that are most ded­i­cated to the golf swing.

While this is, in many ways, a typ­i­cal re­sort golf course de­sign, it, too was one of the more en­joy­able games we had.

Men­tion the name Robert Trent Jones Jr. and you will find golfers ask­ing for di­rec­tions to the course he de­signed.

Owned by Cana­di­ans, Las Sen­das is not only a trib­ute to the de­signer, but it is as scenic and chal­leng­ing as any you will find.

Sit­u­ated on the east side of Mesa, it has been de­signed to ap­peal to those who de­mand lux­ury and qual­ity of play at the same time.


The only thing we found frus­trat­ing was the lack of yardage mark­ers, with carts that did not in­clude GPSs.

When I ques­tioned man­age­ment about this, their re­sponse was to­day’s golfers are al­ways bring­ing their own dig­i­tal de­vices, so that in­vest­ment was not deemed nec­es­sary.

As many cour­ses as there al­ready are in Ari­zona, more are still be­ing built, with Am­bi­ente the lat­est ex­am­ple.

It is the sec­ond course at JW Mar­riot’s Camel­back Inn, and is a no­ta­tion of what may be com­ing in new

This may be the only course we played that strayed so com­pletely from the pure desert golf con­cept. In many ways it felt like we were golf­ing on a Manitoba track, but here with palm, pine and eu­ca­lyp­tus trees rather than the leafy green sur­round­ings we see at home.

The course was rel­a­tively flat, and was far and away the least ex­pen­sive op­tion we en­coun­tered.

It was fun to play and made for a most en­joy­able day.


Gran­ite boul­ders punc­tu­ate the Troon North golf track.

The 18th green by Loews

Ven­tana Re­sort.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.