Gainey Ranch Golf Club: First class resort golf with pretty scenery

By Maggie Edwards, Contributor

SCOTTSDALE, Az - What could be better than golf in Arizona? How about golf in Arizona at a first class resort?

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale and Gainey Ranch Golf Club are located in the heart of "where it's happening" Scottsdale, Arizona. (For those who care, you should know that it is only 5 minutes from the new Nordstrom store which opened to great fanfare this week).

The hotel setting is almost Hawaiian-like in its openness and tropical feel. Check out the myriad pools, all interconnected and complete with water slide and waterfalls. There's even a sandy beach lest you miss the flavor of the ocean.

If you eat at the Italian restaurant, you might be lucky enough to reserve a couple of spots on the gondola whose gondolier serenades you around the Hyatt lake after dinner.

Beyond the lake lies three 9-hole golf courses-The Lakes, The Arroyo and the Dunes. You can choose to play only nine holes if you happen to believe that constitutes a round of golf, but any combination of two offers the average golfer a sufficient challenge. Besides, Gainey Ranch is really very pretty, and the houses are spiffy to check out.

My favorite combination is Lakes/Arroyo. The slope from the women's tees is l20; it's only about 5400 yards, but six of the nine holes on the Lakes course have water. The holes each offer something different, so don't get lazy and forget your course management. The finishing hole is a good par five with water on the right and all around the green, complete with a water fall.

On to the Arroyo course. If you don't know what an arroyo is, that's okay. Just remember, you can't ground your club when you're in one, nor can you drive your cart in it. (For you non-desert dwellers, it's a gully carved out by water and full of natural grasses). Anyway, the arroyo course has several of those gullies, strategically placed, and only two holes with water. The ninth hole has water on the left side and cuts around the green. The view is awesome, and when the pin is in the back, it's a real challenging shot to the green. The arroyo is probably the more difficult of the two courses.

The Dunes is shorter but, as the name implies, full of moguls. It's a fun course and easier to score on, but not as scenic as the other two.

The greens are Bermuda and slow most of the time, but the breaks can be a bit deceiving. Putt 'em to the back of the cup. The courses are in their best shape in the fall and winter. But then the greens fees are also peak then-$l38 for l8 holes for the hotel guests (who, incidentally share the course with a private membership) Summertime finds the course less than perfect because of the heat, but it costs $85 for l8 and play is faster. The hotel cuts their rates in the summer as well, not to mention the restaurants are less crowded. Summer is definitely worth a visit if you care about things like that.

And, if your golf game really gets frustrating, forget keeping your head down and start craning your neck for the celebrities who live around the course. You have a choice of Jason Kidd, Charles Barkley, Vince Coleman, Roy Green and the Credence Clearwater Revival drummer.

After all that, you can go to the nineteenth hole and celebrate or pay up. Then look forward to a relaxing evening at the Hyatt listening to the famous Estaban.

Maggie Edwards, Contributor

Edwards grew up in Glenwood Springs, Colo., playing golf and skiing, then moved many places, the most recent of which was Boston until landing in Phoenix. An 8 handicap, she likes to play competitively and hates to play slow.

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