A tougher TPC could challenge the pros

By Rebecca Larsen, Contributor

PHOENIX, Ariz. - The PGA Tour is considering a plan to make the TPC Stadium Course in Scottsdale longer and tougher for the pros who play in the Phoenix Open.

Other courses on the tour have been doing the same thing to deal with players who can hit longer than ever and have clubs that keep breaking records. But the TPC at Scottsdale is probably among the easiest courses on the tour anyway. Mark Calcavecchia set a tour scoring record, for example, by shooting a 28-under in the 2001 Open.

"The proposed changes are in the hands of the tour competition committee," says Greg Hoyt of Paradise Valley, the chairman of the 2004 Open for the Phoenix Thunderbirds who run the event. "It's up to them; we don't have much to say about it."

One part of the plan would lengthen the course by 200 to 250 yards from the current 7,089 yards. The tees would be lengthened on holes 6, 9, 14, 15 and 18. New bunkers would be added on Nos. 2 and 18 and bunkers would be enlarged on Nos. 5, 13 and 18.

Tom Weiskopf, who co-designed the course with Jay Morrish in the mid-1980s, drew the plans for the changes.

Hoyt also says that the Open, which has had sponsorship troubles over the past few years, has gotten Xerox to return as a partial sponsor for next year. The Thunderbirds will continue to seek a title sponsor, he says, and if they secure one, Xerox will bow out. "We have several proposals out to numerous people, but there's nothing concrete yet," he says.

Cool rates get cooler as temperature soars

Green fees are always low in summer in Phoenix-Scottsdale, but it never ceases to amaze you how different they are and how few people seem to take advantage of them.

For example, Troon North in North Scottsdale, always ranked up there with Pebble Beach as one of the greatest courses in the world, is now going for $75 Monday-Thursday and $90 Friday-Sunday. This is compared with $240 weekdays and $275 weekends in the winter season, when tee times are hard to come by. The desk clerk says that during the summer, it's generally very busy from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m., but after that traffic on the course dies down. Phone: (480) 606-1000.

Other bargain rates

At the Raven at South Mountain in Phoenix, the rate is $69 Monday-Thursday and $79 Friday-Sunday. Twilight, which is 3:30 p.m., fees drop to $39. All this compares with a peak winter rate of $169. Phone: 800-767-3574. At McCormick Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale, rates are $40 Monday-Thursday and $49 Friday-Sunday with an everyday rate of $33 after 2 p.m. There's also an Internet special at mccormickranchgolf.com of $33 everyday any time. The winter time green fee was $145 a round. Another bargain is at Phantom Horse Golf Club at Pointe South Mountain Resort in Phoenix, a round before 9 a.m. Monday-Thursday is $49 and $59 Friday-Sunday. Every day of the week, green fees drop to $29 if you go out after noon. During the winter, the green fee was $129 a round.

Of course, temperatures the past couple of weeks have been around 110 from time to time. And lots of players must be asking themselves, can you really play your best golf in that kind of heat? So here are a couple of tips:

• It really is better to play in the morning than the afternoon. On the hottest days, temps start out in the 80s at 7 a.m. and reach their peak at 4 p.m. And they don't come down that quickly after that.

• Parts of the Phoenix area are a bit cooler than others. It's cooler in Scottsdale than Phoenix and it's cooler in Cave Creek or Fountain Hills than it is in Scottsdale. But still it's not that much, we admit.

• Maybe you should play a short 18, like the Mountain Shadows executive course at the Marriott Resort in Paradise Valley. Fees there are now $30 Mondays through Thursdays and $35 Friday-Sunday, compared with $68 and $78 in winter. Phone: 800-767-3574

• The best cooling device? Take an extra golf towel and dip it in your ice chest and put it around your neck for quick relief.

Priciest of the pricey almost ready to open

One of Scottsdale's most costly private golf clubs, The Golf Club of Scottsdale, is nearing completion and should open for play in November, according to Ashley Pasko, assistant to managing partner Mark Isakson.

Pasko said sales are "right on target" and have reached 38 of the 50 possible charter openings. However, Isakson told us last year that he had 35 charter members signed up.

Charter memberships cost $200,000 now and have 90 percent equity. Once they are all sold, the cost will go up to $250,000 with 80 percent equity. A couple of other clubs in the Scottsdale area - Estancia and Desert Mountain, for example - are in the same ballpark, about $200,000 to $225,000.

The course, designed by architects Morrish and Dick Bailey, is being built near the famous Troon North public fee course and will be located between Dynamite and Dixileta on 122nd Street. A clubhouse will be up by the end of 2004.

The big attractions of the course are that it will border state preserve lands and will have no residential development. Although the cost is high, a golfer doesn't have to buy real estate in order to be a member as you do at places like Desert Mountain.

If you have the money, the phone number is 800-767-3574

A course that could disappear

Mountain Shadows Golf Course, the 18-hole executive course that we mentioned previously as a great place to play in summer, is in some danger of being plowed under for a residential development.

Those who love this popular 3,081-yard course on Lincoln Avenue in the Paradise Valley area will be upset of course, but not as upset as the homeowners that live along Mountain Shadows' fairways.

At any rate, the threat is not imminent, according to Shannon Linahan, general manager of the Marriott Mountain Shadows resort that includes the golf course. "It's a little premature at this point to get worried," she says. "We don't know what the owners will do. We don't think that they'll proceed until after summer and they'll be seeking a lot of input from the homeowners."

The course and resort are actually owned by Host Marriott Corp., a completely separate entity from their managers, Marriott International.

What's being considered for the property is a new residential development and resort that wouldn't include a golf course. "We won't know until the plans are filed," says Linahan. "It would also be a blow to the 375 people who have memberships at the course."

Mountain Shadows is located at 5641 E. Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale, Ariz. 85253. Phone, 480-951-5427

Rebecca LarsenRebecca Larsen, Contributor

Rebecca Larsen is a former features and assistant features editor for the Marin Independent Journal, a medium-sized daily paper located north of San Francisco. She has also worked for the Milwaukee Journal and for a Chicago public relations firm. She has a bachelor's in journalism from Northwestern University and a master's from the University of California at Berkeley.

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