Great Scott! Seven days of golf in Scottsdale
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Seven days to play golf in Scottsdale? It's a dream vacation -- until you figure out which courses you're going to have leave out of the itinerary.
Scottsdale, in particular north Scottsdale, is a golfer's paradise. You can't hit a 3-wood without hitting a golf course that's made somebody's top 10 list.
Here's seven courses that you can't pass up, and if you decide to stay in one of north Scottsdale's swanky resorts, you'll never have more than a 15- to 20-minute drive. So grab the sunscreen and enjoy.
Scottsdale golf trip: Day 1
To get the vacation off to a great start, play the TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course, which hosts the PGA Tour's Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Stand on the infamous par-3 16th tee and imagine 20,000 fans booing if you miss the green. Try to bust your drive over the lake and sand trap on the par-4 18th, like the pros routinely do. Go for it in two on the par-5 15th.
The par-71, 7,216-yard course also employs forecaddies, which is convenient if you start to go John Daly off the tee.
Dinner and drinks: Try Oregano's, a funky Italian joint on Shea and Scottsdale Roads. It has some of the best pasta and pizza in town, and for dessert, the Pizookie. Just don't count the calories.
Scottsdale golf trip: Day 2
The Monument, a par-72, 7,070-yard layout, plays like a links course in the desert, giving golfers the ability to play bump-and-run shots around greens. The Pinnacle, a 7,025-yard, par-71 design, is desert golf to the extreme, featuring what seems like an endless run of uphill holes, elevated greens and huge, deep bunkers. It's undeniably one of the toughest courses in the Valley.
Dinner and drinks: Try Mastro's Steakhouse, which features steaks ranging from eight to 48 ounces.
Scottsdale golf trip: Day 3
Kierland Golf Club is one of the most unique playing experiences in the Valley. The club features three nine-hole courses, golfers can rent Segways to carry their clubs, and a bagpiper serenades golfers as they finish their round in the late afternoon.
Oh, the fairways are generous and there's not a single cactus on the property. In Arizona, that's called a pardon.
Dinner and drinks: P.F. Chang's China Bistro, at neighboring Kierland Commons Mall, is a perfect place to relax after 18 holes.
Scottsdale golf trip: Day 4
For a change of pace, head to McCormick Ranch Golf Club in central Scottsdale. The old-school property, which opened in 1971, features the Palm Course and the Pine Course, both coming in at more than 7,000 yards.
With three 40-acre lakes at McCormick Ranch, water comes into play on 15 of the 36 holes. You'll think you've been teleported back to the Midwest or South.
Dinner and drinks: Don & Charlie's is a Scottsdale institution that features great steaks and ribs. If you're there during spring training, you'll likely bump into a few Major League Baseball players.
Scottsdale golf trip: Day 5
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club features two outstanding courses. The 7,225-yard Cholla Course is an intimidating desert layout that features spectacular scenery and was named by Sports Illustrated as one of the top 10 new public courses after its 2001 debut.
The Saguaro Course is a throwback. Designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, it's built for walking, with greens close to tees. Also, at 6,966 yards from the back tees, it's not as difficult to play as the Cholla.
One of the best features about We-Ko-Pa is its location. There isn't a single home, townhouse or condo on the property.
Dinner and drinks: The Ahnala Mesquite Room at Ft. McDowell Resort is a high-class restaurant featuring everything from chops to fish. And as an after-dinner treat, you can do some gambling at the casino.
Scottsdale golf trip: Day 6
By now you're probably tired of losing balls in the desert, so for a break head to Talking Stick Golf Club just off Interstate 101 and across from the spring training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies.
Talking Stick's North Course and South Course, both designed by the team of Coore and Crenshaw, have some forced carries over desert, but they're not nearly as penal as some of Scottsdale's harder tracks.
Both courses have wide fairways and inviting greens. The North is more of a bump-and-run course, while the South is more traditional with its tree-lined fairways. Either way, your scorecard won't have as many crooked numbers as it might at, say, Troon North.
Dinner and drinks: To keep the casual theme going, try Ventura Grill. It offers several specials, such as 35-cent wings on Wednesdays and happy hour every weekday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Scottsdale golf trip: Day 7
To finish off your vacation with a bang, save yourself time to play 36 holes at the Grayhawk Golf Club, which has some of the best service in the Valley and two challenging courses in the Raptor and the Talon.
Grayhawk's Raptor Course has several classic risk-reward holes and elevated greens that are protected by deep bunkers. The Talon Course is all about the greens; they're huge, multi-tiered and incredibly fast. It's vital to get your ball on the right tier; otherwise you'll be three-putting all day.
Dinner and drinks: By now you're probably tired of driving, so grab a huge burger and cold beer or glass of wine at Grayhawk's Phil's Grill, named after Phil Mickelson. Our recommendation: The blackened swordfish sandwich.