With renovations and rerouting, Troon North's Pinnacle golf course in Scottsdale is now walker friendly
Scottsdale has earned its reputation as a golf town with great scenery and long desert courses fit for pros and amateurs in golf carts. But Troon North Golf Club's Pinnacle course is trying to change that reputation, thanks to a walker-friendly revamp and redesign.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Golf in Scottsdale is known for a lot of things: striking desert and mountain scenery with nary a blade of grass out of place, and course designs fit to challenge the pros.
But a long-standing assumption about Scottsdale golf courses is that they're built amongst real estate developments and walking is an afterthought. Troon North Golf Club is hoping to change that perception, thanks to a redesign by original designer and British Open Champion Tom Weiskopf. The result is two new golf courses with improved playability.
Troon North is one of the catalysts for the Scottsdale golf's lofty reputation. The first of two courses, the Monument, opened in 1990 and quickly set the standard for premium desert golf in the Valley of the Sun. The Pinnacle course at Troon North was added six years later in conjunction with a residential community, and walker friendly it was not, down to the half-mile cart ride between the ninth green and 10th tee.
"If you looked at the way the Monument and Pinnacle were routed before the renovation, it didn't make a lot of sense," said Brett Brooks, manager of marketing communications. "That's because they were built six years apart from one another."
Weiskopf himself admitted that changing the routing was something he considered as soon as the Pinnacle was laid out.
"The course reconfiguration is something we contemplated in 1996 when we built the second course," Weiskopf said. "Both courses can now be played exactly as the land dictates."
Of course, when both Troon North designs are rated as frequent No. 1 and No. 2 offerings among the top public access golf courses in Arizona, it's hard to want to mess too much with a good thing.
But Weiskopf and Troon thought they could make their facility even better and undertook the project.
With a few exceptions, the front nines of the two golf courses were combined to form today's Monument, and the back sides of the two courses formed today's Pinnacle. Greens on each were reseeded with Pennlink's Creeping Bentgrass, bunkers were remodeled or removed, and the Pinnacle course was molded into more of a tumbling links-style look.
Troon North's Pinnacle Course: The verdict on walkability
I chose to take up the Pinnacle's claim that it's walker friendly first-hand. It should be mentioned that just because the Pinnacle is walker friendly now, it's still not an immensely popular option to do so, considering cart fees are baked into the green fee, and the other three members of my group chose to ride.
When you're the only walker in a group of three riders, it can be difficult if there are long drives between holes or roundabout paths around desert washes. That said, I was able to keep up with my group during most points in my round with one exception. The third hole is a long par 4 with a pretty long carry over desert to reach the fairway. After teeing off, I thought I saw a path between the tee and fairway I could take, which eventually led me into a dead end of cacti and shrubs. I was stuck, and it took me a moment to find my way out. This is really the only issue with the Pinnacle for walkers.
It's still usually best for walkers to follow the cart path out to the fairway rather than take the straight line through desert, unlike at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club's Saguaro course, where straight dirt "pro paths" have been created between the tees and fairways.
The walks between holes are very manageable. There is never a need to jump on the back of a golf cart for a ride to the next tee, and you can usually figure out which direction the next tee is at the green. Hopefully over the next couple of years, Troon North can slowly build some walkways between some of the tees and fairways to aid walkers even further.
Stay and play in North Scottsdale: The Boulders Resort
If you plan on playing many of north Scottsdale's top golf courses such as Troon North's Pinnacle and Monument, as well as Grayhawk Golf Club's Talon and Raptor, stay at the 1,300-acre Boulders Resort, with two golf courses of its own, as well as one of Scottsdale's top golf schools headed by Director of Instruction Donald Crawley. The resort also offers golf packages with not only its two courses but most of the top surrounding Scottsdale clubs as well.
Set beneath a collection of incredible 12-million-year-old boulders, the Waldorf Astoria-brand resort features a community of 160 guest "casitas" as well as one, two and three-bedroom villas for larger groups. On site are seven restaurants, Golden Door Spa and for more active guests, rock climbing and tennis.
December 15, 2009