June Notebook: Try this Doubleheader in the Desert

By Rebecca Larsen, Contributor

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - The Tournament Players Club courses in Scottsdale have cooked up a deal that sounds as if it's aimed at only the hardiest of golfers. During the height of the torrid summer season, for only $80, you can play the TPC Desert Course in the morning, have lunch at the Desert Grill and then move on to play the TPC Stadium Course in the afternoon.

Believe it or not, more than 2,500 golfers played these 36 holes in one day last summer and lived to tell about it, according to Russ Norris, the TPC marketing director. Sounds like some of these folks may be capable of running from rim-to-rim at the Grand Canyon next.

"We did it for the first time last summer," Norris says about the double deal, "and this spring we got calls from San Francisco and from all over the United States from people who wanted to know if we'd do it again."

The price is definitely right for this offer. You can play from June 16 until Sept. 9 at a great discount. Regularly, the daytime summer rate is $42 for the Desert Course at the TPC (6,369 yards from the back tees and 4,554 yards from the forward tees) and $92 for the Stadium (7,089 yards from the back tees and 5,567 yards from the forward tees). In the winter, the prices are almost double that amount at the Stadium Course, which, by the way, is the site of the Phoenix Open. Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish designed the courses in 1986.

No coupon is necessary to play the 36 holes. Just call up and book a tee time, up to seven days in advance for any Sunday through Thursday. Norris recommends starting by at least 11 a.m. or you might not finish this ordeal by sundown. But it's ok, too, to fudge a bit and just play the front nine at the Desert Course, he says.

For tee times, call 800-767-3574.

Thunderbirds Golf Club Summer Deal

A similar deal is available this summer at the brand-new Thunderbirds Golf Club, 701 E. Thunderbird Trail, in South Phoenix. Every Tuesday is Play-All-Day day. For $39, you can play as many holes as you can and get a complimentary hot dog and drink as well. For tee times, call 602-305-7755. Web site: www.thunderbirdsgolfclub.com.

New Resort News

Three huge luxury resorts in the Valley of the Sun are nearing completion and expect to open in December 2002 or soon thereafter, and all, not surprisingly, are next door to top-notch courses in the Phoenix area.

Marriott's $293 million Desert Ridge Resort & Spa will be Arizona's largest, with 950 rooms, including 85 suites. Desert Ridge is located in northeast Phoenix near the Wildfire Golf Club, which has two courses, the Palmer and the brand-new Faldo. According to the press packets, the lobby of this massive hotel will spill out onto "sparkling blue waterways and majestic palm-lined paths accented by vibrant desert wildflowers." Address: 5350 E. Marriott Drive, Phoenix. Phone: 480-905-0004. Web site: www.marriott.com.

Not too far away from Desert Ridge is the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, a $180 million, 11-story resort with 750 rooms, located near the 27-hole Kierland Golf Club in Scottsdale. Also close to the Westin Kierland is a very popular Scottsdale shopping center, Kierland Commons, home to J.Crew, Crate & Barrel, P.F. Chang's and the Cheesecake Factory. Address for the Westin: 6902 E. Greenway Parkway, Scottsdale. Phone: 800-767-3574. Web site: www.westin.com.

The south of Phoenix area will have the $125 million Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa, with 500 rooms near the Whirlwind Golf Resort, home of the Devil's Claw and Cat's Tail courses on the Gila River Indian Community. This destination resort is 11.5 miles south of Sky Harbor airport. Local attractions are the Wild Horse Pass Casino and a pool area that includes a waterslide set among waterfalls and bridges overlooking the Gila River. Address: 5594 Wild Horse Pass Blvd., Chandler. Phone: 602-225-0100. Web site: www.sheraton.com.

Is it really possible for visitors to Phoenix to fill up more than 2,000 new hotel rooms? "We've had 2,000 new rooms added at one time in the past and managed to fill them," says Jay Haffner, director of golf at SunRidge Canyon Golf Course in Fountain Hills. "Typically, when something like this happens, there is a lot more advertising and promotion done outside the state and business picks up for everyone."

Eagle Mountain Benefits from TV Time

It pays to be on television. Jay Pennypacker, director of golf at the Golf Club at Eagle Mountain in Fountain Hills, says that business picked up dramatically after Eagle Mountain was the setting for a Canadian Tour event this past spring. "We've been booked solid," he says. "We asked people how they heard about us and 27 percent of them said that they came to play after seeing us on the Golf Channel."

If you're one of those who turned in to see this spectacular course in the McDowell Mountains above Scottsdale and were hoping to get in 18 this summer, Pennypacker warned us that the course will close down from July 15 through Aug. 15 while the maintenance staff replants the greens.

Eagle Mountain will be changing from bentgrass to a tiff dwarf grass on its greens. The problem, according to Pennypacker, is that bentgrass, although it can produce a very smooth, velvety surface for golfers, is harder to maintain in the desert, particularly because the water in Arizona has been increasing in salinity for the past few years. "The edges of the greens have been wearing away," Pennypacker says. The new grass should resolve that problem.

For tee times at Eagle Mountain before the closure, call 800-767-3574.

Longbow Closes for Redesign

Owners of Longbow Golf Club in Mesa have announced that the club has closed to public use earlier this month and is expected to reopen on Dec. 1, 2002.

During the closure, the 18-hole golf course will be redesigned to fit into a new business park development that will surround the course. Tucson golf course designer Ken Kavanaugh is doing the redesign. He originally designed the course in 1997. Longbow is located at 5400 E. McDowell Road, Mesa 85215, near the intersection of Higley and McDowell roads. Phone: 480-807-5400. Web site: www.longbowgolf.com.

Arizona Hotel Summer Bargains

Besides the cheap rates at golf clubs this summer in the Phoenix area, there are incredible bargains at the hotels next door to the courses. Consider these:

• $79 a night at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort, a block or two from the Tournament Players Club courses. Phone, 888-273-0614. Web site: www.scottsdaleplaza.com.
• $119 per weekday night or $149 per weekend night at the Boulders Resort, off Tom Darlington Drive in Carefree. The Boulders has its own fabulous golf courses. Phone, 800-767-3574
• $59 per night at the Gainey Suites Hotel, 7300 E. Gainey Suites Drive, Scottsdale, very close to McCormick Ranch Golf Club, which has two courses, and Starfire at Scottsdale Country Club. Phone, 800-767-3574.

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.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment