America's modern golf capital? Scottsdale puts six courses on Golf Magazine's Top 100 list
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Any question that Scottsdale is the capital of modern U.S. golf might have been put to rest with the latest edition of Golf Magazine's "Top 100 Courses You Can Play" list.
Six golf courses in the Scottsdale-Phoenix area made the list, by far the most of any single city region. California and South Carolina are the only states with more golf courses in that top 100 than Arizona, with 10 and seven respectively, but those courses are scattered throughout the states; the six Arizona golf courses on the list are within driving distance of each other.
In fact, you could easily play Scottsdale's studly six on a single trip.
"To me it's just another indication of how great the golf is here," said frequent Scottsdale visitor Eric Dixon. "That's why I keep coming back. You hear a lot about other spots on the West Coast these days - like Chambers Bay. A lot of my buddies want to make a Chambers Bay trip and we probably will.
"But that's one course. I keep telling them it's not the same thing we're used to in Scottsdale. You can get spoiled as a golfer going here."
Part of that is because the very best golf courses in Scottsdale have not lost a step. Troon North's Monument and Pinnacle golf courses are as much regulars on this list as James Gandolfini was at the Emmys during the height of the Sopranos. For 10 straight years, both Monument and Pinnacle have been in the magazine's Top 100.
The difference this time is that after a two-year overhaul by original designer Tom Weiskopf, Pinnacle's moved ahead of its attention-stealing sister course. Pinnacle is now tops in Arizona, 21st overall in America, up from 59th in 2006. Monument was 21 in 2006, but it's still in the Top 50 now, coming in at 45th.
Troon North is no longer the only two-course Top 100 facility in greater Scottsdale. We-Ko-Pa Golf Club - the house-free, buzzed-over club on Native American Indian land that debuted its first golf course in 2001 and came out with its second in 2006 - now has the recognition that many in-the-know Arizona golfers long felt it deserved.
The Scott Miller-designed original course (now named Cholla) comes in at No. 35 in America, while the new, walking friendly, more open Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw brainchild Sagauro Course debuts at 44.
"The competition's so intense in Arizona golf that if you stand up to the quality of the other top courses around here, you know you're going to be among the best in the country," said We-Ko-Pa Director of Golf Operations Derek Crawford. "As a new facility, we knew the standards were very high."
Grayhawk Golf Club's Talon Course and The Boulders Club's South Course, both built in the 1990s like Troon North, helped set those standards. Grayhawk's Talon ranks 87th and Boulders South 90th, rounding out Arizona's selections in the Top 100.
Tucson - Scottsdale's more desert-natural rival two hours away - did not place a single golf course in the list. But some think that could change with the 2009 opening of the new Jack Nicklaus course at Dove Mountain, which will host the World Match Play Championship in February.
What clearly has not changed is Arizona's importance in the golf world - especially Scottsdale.
"People talk about the new restaurants and clubs or whatever in Scottsdale so much now that you can almost forget the golf is still pretty damn spectacular," Dixon said.
Unless you actually go play it. One round at one of Scottsdale's studly six is an undisputable reminder.
Click here to see the complete Golf Magazine list.
October 10, 2008