10 places in Phoenix that women love to play

By Rebecca Larsen, Contributor

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Do women really want a different kind of course than men do when they play golf?

That was the question we had in mind when we set out to pinpoint 10 places to play in Arizona that women like. So we asked Mary Long, the executive director of the Arizona Women's Golf Association, what she thought. Long, who has a mid-range handicap, thinks her level of play as a woman definitely influences her choice of courses.

"I want a course that's long enough so that I have to hit well in order to score," Long says. "But it should not be so long that you can't reach the greens in regulation or not so short that I don't have to try hard to do well."

She also likes tees to give her a good shot at the fairway, not just because they make the length shorter. "Sometimes the women's tees are an afterthought. When you hit a drive, you think you're liable to hit a tree that's almost in front of you from the forward tees. Or when they set up the tee markers, they don't look at the direction. They have the markers lined up with the desert instead of the fairway."

We also think women appreciate scenery and mountain views more than men do. And they probably have their eyes on the size of the greens fee more than men. So here are 10 great places for women to tee it up in the Phoenix area from the east to the west and north to south and some in-between:

1. Legend Trail Golf Club in North Scottsdale - Legend Trail is a modified desert-style course with open fairways that will remind you a bit of the famous Grayhawk club. Architect Rees Jones designed this course (5,000 from the forward tees, 6,845 from the back) to appeal to all levels of players. In fact, Golf for Women magazine picked Legend Trail as one of the top 100 women-friendly courses in 2000. The fairways meander through the Sonoran Desert and offer great views of landmarks like Pinnacle Peak.

"There's very good service at Legend Trail," says Dennis Farrell, director of guest services at Resort Suites in Scottsdale, who says women guests often enjoy this course. "The course is a little more open. It's an adventure to play, but you don't have as much carry over the desert as you have at similar courses." Legend Trail is located at 9462 E. Legendary Lane in Scottsdale. Legendary Trail is just off Pima Road. Call 800-767-3574. Resort Suites can book customized golf packages for guests.

2. Legacy Golf Club in Phoenix - Travel down to South Mountain in Phoenix into an area that's being renovated, and you find this wonderful new resort and a great golf course. Scottsdale architect Gary Panks designed the Legacy, and what helps make his courses so playable is that the fairways have grass sidewalls that can keep your ball in bounds. The course opened only three years ago on what was once the Dwight Heard ranch, 7,500 acres of cattle, alfalfa and citrus. There are even some old ranch houses and silos here, preserved as a tribute to the past. This course is 5,471 yards from the forward tees; 6,816 from the back. The course is at 6808 S. 32nd St., Phoenix. Take Baseline Road to 32nd Street, and go north.

3. Mountain Shadows Golf Course in Scottsdale - "If you're looking for a place to play 18 in less than three hours, this executive course that's part of a Marriott resort is for you. Mountain Shadows is a favorite of Scottsdale golfer Sharon Gold, who told us she has played it over and over again: "It's really fun and it's so green." The course is 2,606 yards from the forward tees and 3,081 yards from the back tees with only two par-4 holes. Maintenance is superb. The big pines and palms are a blessing in warm weather. Friendly folks can help you get clubs in and out of your car, a rarity at many short courses. Mountain Shadows is located at 5641 E. Lincoln Drive, in Scottsdale. Call (480) 951-5427 or check out www.mountainshadowsgolf.com.

4. Starfire at Scottsdale Country Club - Another option is Starfire, a recently renovated older course near midtown Scottsdale. This is a 27-hole course with three nine-hole courses, where golfers put together two of the courses to make a full round. If you play the King and the Squire courses, for example, it's 4,792 yards from the forward tees and 6,011 from the back. This course is popular with local golfers because of its reasonable prices. It's well-maintained and has a sophisticated new clubhouse. Starfire is located at 11500 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale. Call (480) 948-6000 or check out www.starfiregolfclub.com.

5. Estrella Mountain Ranch Golf Club in Goodyear - This is a very playable course in the West Valley recommended by Mary Long of the Arizona Women's Golf Association. It's a challenging course designed by Jack Nicklaus II, son of Jack I, in 1999. It's an upscale course but offers lots of specials on rates at various times of the year. There are elevated tees and great views of the Sierra Estrella Mountains. The course is 5,124 yards from the forward tees and 7,102 from the back tees. The address is 11800 S. Golf Club Drive in Goodyear. Take I-10 west from Phoenix about 40 miles to Estrella Parkway and then go south six miles to Golf Club Drive and west to the course. Call 800-767-3574.

6. Grayhawk Golf Club's Talon and Raptor courses - Women golfers often hesitate to pay the steep green fees at places like Grayhawk. The truth is, that women, just like men, thoroughly enjoy the service and superb conditions that higher prices bring. So pamper yourself. Both these courses - one by Tom Fazio, the other by Gary Panks - are wonderful blends of desert and traditional. You'll find rolling, jewel-green fairways, superb par-3s and lush landscaping. From the forward tees at Raptor, the distance is 5,309; from the back it is 7,135. From the forward tees at the Talon, the distance is 5,143; from the back it is 6,973. Grayhawk is located at 8620 E. Thompson Peak Parkway in Scottsdale. Thompson Peak is off Scottsdale Road. Phone 800-767-3574.

7. Rancho Manana Golf Club in Cave Creek - Adobe buildings and walls, quaint archways, cactuses mixed with masses of flowers - the ambiance definitely sets a romantic mood at the Rancho, if that's possible at a golf course. The course winds its way up a mountain and back down again. "It's hilly," says one Scottsdale golfer, Pat Kassul, "but it's not too long." That doesn't mean this course (4,436 yards from the forward tees, 6,004 from the back tees) isn't a challenge. Fairways are narrow here, elevated tees require long, lofted shots onto greens below, and you have to cross at least one canyon in a split fairway situation. Rancho Manana is located at 5734 E. Rancho Manana Blvd. in Cave Creek, right off Cave Creek Boulevard. Call 800-767-3574

8. Ocotillo Golf Club in Chandler - Are women golfers more afraid of water than men are? Even so, this is a place to face your phobia and conquer it. There are more lakes, streams, ponds, fountains and waterfalls, than you ever thought possible in the desert. It's a traditional course and a long one, but seeing the waterworks is an experience in itself. There are three nine-hole courses here - the Gold, the White and the Blue. You put together two nines in order to make up 18. The truth is, if you play this course with a man, he'll hit as many balls into the water as you do. Distance on the Blue: 2,569 from the forward tees; 3,325 from the back. Distance on the White: 2,565 from the forward; 3,188 from the back. Distance on the Gold: 2,559 from the forward; 3,404 from the back. Ocotillo is located at 3751 S. Clubhouse Drive, Chandler. From Scottsdale, take 101 South until it becomes Price Road. Turn right on Dobson, left on Ocotillo until you hit Clubhouse Drive. Phone: 800-767-3574

9. The Dinosaur Course at Gold Canyon - This is a daunting course for women - and men. But the views of Superstition Mountain and nearby canyons are so breath-taking it's well worth the damage that the Dinosaur can do to a handicap. Director of golf Scott Scherger says women like his course because of the views and elevated tees. "We've moved up some of the forward tees to make it more woman-friendly," he also says. In fact the course is only 4,921 from the forward tees (6,584 yards from the back) and is a par 72 for women, compared to par 70 for men. The most fun is on the par-3s - like No. 5 and No. 14 - when you perch on elevated tees that seem to be miles above the landing area below. If you're good at lofted shots, you'll have a shot at par every time. The toughest part is the par 5s with moguls like a ski run. Be careful on the slick, undulating greens. If this course intimidates you, try the flatter, shorter Sidewinder next door. Gold Canyon is located at 6100 S. Kings Ranch Road in Gold Canyon. Take Highway 60 east from Phoenix about 50 miles to the town. Call 800-767-3574.

10. Orange Tree Golf Course in Scottsdale - So maybe you've tried some of the tougher courses on our list - the ones with desert and canyons to cross and now you'd like to relax with something traditional. Orange Tree is that kind of course with wide, forgiving fairways and a little bit of water as well. Some golfers might consider this layout old-fashioned, but it can also be very relaxing. Scottsdale golfer Pat Kassul likes to play this course in the summer because of its mature classic trees. The distance here is 5,704 from the forward tees and 6,775 from the back. Orange Tree is located at 10601 N. 56th St., Scottsdale. From Scottsdale Road, take Cactus Road to 56th Street and turn left. Call (480) 948-3730 or check out www.orangetree.com.

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
  • Lifetime Television

    amy wrote on: Apr 4, 2005

    Lifetime Television is coming to your twon looking fo 4 diverse women for a "Day of Pampering and Beauty".
    Nominate a desrving women to be a candidate to recieve this special treatment.
    Log onto: http://autonomy.tv/beauty