Kierland Golf Club: Traditional Layout Features Golf For All Skills

By David R. Holland, Contributor

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - It's a scene repeated daily on the target-style desert courses in Arizona.

A high-handicapper addresses his ball, knees are wobbly as he peers at the 185-yard forced carry over a natural desert dry wash filled with rocks, cactus, hiding places for rattlesnakes and the spiny-branched ocotillo.

He swings and immediately reaches in his back pocket.


Frustrated reloaders will smile more at Kierland Golf Club. It's traditional and player friendly, and its immaculate conditions and challenging holes will please golfers of all skill levels.

And sweeping views of Mummy Mountain, Camelback Mountain, Pinnacle Peak and the McDowells give the layout an attractive panorama.

Designed by Scott Miller, the three nine-hole layouts - Mesquite, Acacia and Ironwood - are named for the trees that decorate Kierland. There are a few forced carries and none you can't master.

Each nine plays with a diverse style created by differences in the landscape. There are elevation changes of up to 75 feet, some created when more than 1.3 million cubic yards of dirt were bulldozed to create lakes and more than 300 bunkers. You will also see the contrast of golden-colored Buffalo grass against the hybrid Bermuda fairways.

"You won't see a single cactus on the course," said D.J. Flanders, Facility Manager. "Golfers know Kierland is noteworthy for its playability and our top golf instructors at the Golf Digest Golf School."

One can't miss the new hotel either. The 750-room Westin Resort at Kierland will open in December 2002 and is directly adjacent to Kierland Commons Main Street, a classy 38-acre "urban village," which includes a town square and dozens of upscale shops, galleries and restaurants.

Kierland also has a new clubhouse which includes locker rooms, a high-end restaurant and an 1,800-square foot retail center.

Most agree that the Acacia-Ironwood nines are the best 18-hole combination at Kierland. Acacia's strength is its elevation differences, while Ironwood is dotted with lots of tall grasses and water features. The Mesquite nine is pretty much straightforward, but all three have interesting and challenging finishing holes.

"Kierland is my favorite layout in the Valley," said John Harkins of Phoenix. "Conditions are great all the time. The service is superb, you can hit all the warm-up balls you want and it is not target golf. You can play without losing a dozen golf balls. I like that the most. When you see all the construction that's been done the past year on the hotel and clubhouse, you get the feeling these people are serious about being the best in Arizona. It is managed by Troon Golf, the best management company in the business. Oh yea, and there are no cookie-cutter homes lining the fairways."

Kierland will present you with generous landing areas in the fairways and some parallel fairways. The bentgrass greens are medium in size and have subtle undulations.

Ironwood's signature No. 9 is a possible eagle par 5. It's only 495 yards from the back, but water travels the entire right side You will have to negotiate a huge trap that crosses the fairway 100 yards out, but most solid drivers of the ball can reach the green in two.

Acacia's finishing hole has a backdrop of the new hotel, a downhill tee shot with a lake left and hilly slope bordering the right fairway boundary. It's 531 yards from the back and has a two-tiered green.

Mesquite's No. 9 is 427 yards from the back, a par 4, and is fronted by a large lake carry on the approach with six sand traps guarding the front entrance to a diagonally-placed putting surface.

If your knees tremble at forced carries, Kierland is the forgiving place for you.

Tournaments, Honors at Kierland

The 1997 USGA Women's State Team Championship and the annual Scottsdale Golf Championship. Honors: 1996 Nominated "Best New Public Golf Course by Golf Digest. 1999 Nominated "Top 100 Women-Friendly Golf Courses". 1999 Voted Troon Golf "Newcomer of the Year". 2000 Voted Troon Golf "Most Improved Facility".

Directions: From the Phoenix Airport, drive north on 44th St., when you come to Tatum Blvd turn left, once you reach Greenway Pkwy turn right, then head over to 66th St and turn left again, drive a short distance to the course entrance.

Sightseeing in Phoenix

Tour Bank One Ballpark, the home of the 2001 World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. BOB is located south of Heritage and Science Park. Behind-the-scenes tours are conducted Monday through Saturday. Tours are not conducted during some winter months. Hours vary according to game days and events, so call ahead.

Bank One Ballpark is located at 401 E. Jefferson, in downtown Phoenix. Log on to: for more information.

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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