Scottsdale Silverado Golf Club: Scottsdale's secret public golf course flies under the radar

By Chris Baldwin, Contributor

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Secrets in Scottsdale golf last only slightly longer than secrets in the world of celebrity starlets. Sure, you'll hear about Britney Spears going out clubbing without her underwear again faster, but golf courses in this town cannot keep anything quiet that much longer.

Scottsdale Silverado Golf Club - 18th Hole
Scottsdale Silverado's 18th is a par 3 finish you'll remember.
Scottsdale Silverado Golf Club - 18th HoleScottsdale Silverado Golf Club - GreensScottsdale Silverado golf courseScottsdale Silverado Golf Club
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Silverado Golf Course

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Silverado Golf Course in Scottsdale is a championship course that is as scenic as it is challenging. The layout features elevated tees that offer stunning views of the surrounding Camelback and Mummy Mountains.

18 Holes | Public golf course | Par: 70 | 6313 yards | Book online | ... details »

Which makes Scottsdale Silverado Golf Club a complete anomaly.

This is the Scottsdale golf course that nobody knows about. It's right on Indian Bend Road, smack dab in the middle of the every trendy desert city's heavy traffic corridors. Heck, you could finish munching on one of Patsy Grimaldi's delicious thin pepperoni slices in Old Town and be on the first tee in under 10 minutes.

Yet, Scottsdale Silverado carries less name recognition than Scott Baio's hairdresser's third cousin.

Part of this is due to the unique setup of the club -- Silverado is a cooperative partnership between a group of private businessmen (and dedicated golfers) and the City of Scottsdale. And none of these parties seems too concerned with whether tourists ever find their way to the course.

Instead, you find a group of steadfast regulars and a marshal who hovers like a mother at her daughter's wedding out on the wide-open fairways.

Anyone can play Scottsdale's secret course, though. And if you do, chances are you'll be treated right. Silverado is the type of course where the clubhouse guys only charge late afternoon stragglers the cart fee (around $26 bucks) to get in as many holes as they can.

If you're looking for a good cool-down course, a place to get in more golf before the sun sets, Scottsdale Silverado is a good choice too. This is also a great track to play that first round in the Valley of the Sun if your game's been in winter hibernation back home. Or if you simply want to lower your handicap, play Silverado several times.

This is a 6,313-yard course with a slope rating of 108 -- that's no misprint. At Silverado, everything is in front of you the same way the plot is to a Sylvester Stallone movie. The fairways are wide, the forced carries are few and hardly scary, and the lies are great.

That's right, great. This is one of the few easy courses you'll find in really good shape. At Silverado, green means very green. In fact, Silverado removes a lot of the intimidation from golf. People who dread how they're swinging can show up here and leave feeling pretty good about themselves.

Rough is as hard to find as Dick Cheney often is.

"It's not all about kicking you in the fanny," golfer Mabel Irving said. "I hate those desert courses that just want to kick you in the fanny. Here, you can play a friendly game with another couple and both the husbands and the wives have a good time."

The greatest danger at Scottsdale Silverado does not come from any obstacle, it's the parallel fairways. When someone else is swinging, you might be ducking. You've never seen so many guys on the wrong fairway -- and sometimes the wrong green -- hitting back across to the hole they airmailed.

It's hard to tell whether this is because golfers swing with more reckless abandon at Silverado or because Silverado brings out more golfers whose swings are naturally wayward.

Silverado certainly gives you a good look at everything you're swinging at. Most of the tee boxes are slightly elevated -- in Florida they would be considered huge elevation changes, here in the desert they're minor bumps and ridges — and they provide a great window of all that's in your way.

You don't really find yourself squeezed in at all until you get to the ninth tee and find trees on either side of the driving corridor.

Not that you're likely to mind. It's just nice to be in on a green so secret that many Scottsdale golf vacationers know as much about it as they do the area's libraries.

Scottsdale Silverado Golf Club: The verdict

If you can get on Scottsdale Silverado Golf Club in the afternoon for $45 or less (and you often can even in high season), it's a quirky secret worth checking out.

There are six par 3s. Many are straight-on shots, but No. 18 is also a par 3 and the finisher has you shooting down from a raised tee to a green running along water across from the clubhouse. This would be a fun hole no matter where it was, and that may be the best thing about Silverado: It has some holes that are as much of a blast as a Will Ferrell movie.

Like No. 5 -- a par 4 that's 303 yards from the back tees and as inviting as your grandmother on Thanksgiving. This is the hole where mere mortals have a legitimate chance to reach the green with a little roll.

Maybe that's why Silverado stays secret: The regulars want to keep the unexpected highs to themselves.

Chris BaldwinChris Baldwin, Contributor

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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