Scottsdale's Kierland Golf Course One of Valley's Most Playable

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Kierland Golf Course is loaded with "ability" - playability and variability. At Kierland, golf architect Scott Miller has designed 27 holes of top shelf golf that glow with an aura of player friendliness often unseen in desert courses.

"Kierland is a fun golf course," says Director of Golf Dale Balvin. "You can play here without losing a dozen golf balls. It is totally player friendly."

In fact, Kierland is so friendly, the omnipresent sign of the desert course - the cactus - is devoid from all three sets of nines. Instead, this unique layout of ever-changing terrain sports thick strands of Buffalo Grass, charming desert trees such as Ironwood and Mesquite, and quasi high desert landscaping more reminiscent of a New Mexico than the Sonoran Desert.

The variability at Kierland stems from the three different nine hole tracks, each which bring something different to the golfing table.

The Acacia Nine has numerous elevation changes and lots of bunkers. Water comes into play on both the 7th and 9th Holes, but the generous strands of desert trees that line each fairway will take you mind off of everything but the beauty at hand.

The Ironwood Nine is a links style course with a number of native strands of grass as well as rolling hills and creative mounding. No Phoenix area facility would be complete without a desert style course, and the Mesquite Nine at Kierland fills this role in perfect, yet player friendly fashion.

While playability is at a premium on each of the nines at Kierland, don't go thinking there aren't challenges to be had at every turn. All told, the course sports 300 bunkers, and the rolling fairways and elevation changes call for stances over the ball that are about as stable as Jerry Springer episode.

One of the truly unique aspects of Kierland is the lack of conspicuous cookie cutter homes and townhouses so typical of other desert developments.

"The course is set in an almost park-like setting," says Balvin. "There are no buildings on the interior of the course."

Not only does Kierland offer up Links, Desert, and Parkland style golf, it is also home to a Golf Digest Golf School. Refine you game, hone your skills, and head out for whichever brand of golf floats your boat. Life is good in Scottsdale.

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of from 1997 to 2003.

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