Capture the Country Club Feeling at Scottsdale's Troon North Golf Club

By Jason Scott Deegan, Senior Staff Writer

Scottsdale, Ariz. - The anticipation heightens every step of the way. To any golfer, the chance to play golf at Troon North Golf Club carries an aura about it. The drive up North Scottsdale Road toward Troon provides some impressive scenery, which is just a teaser to what the day holds. The sun is peeping over the horizon, casting a glow over the famous Pinnacle Peak. Having left the city of Scottsdale, the desert landscape takes over, with its dense brush, towering cacti and rocky exterior.

When the Troon North sign emerges, it hits you -- Troon North is something special. Just the view from the parking lot is breathtaking. For many golfers who don't own country club memberships to acclaimed golf courses, Troon can give them that feeling, and more, for a day.

Yes, it's pricey. And yes, when it's not as pricey in the summer, it's generally hot, but for anybody who's addicted to this game, the opportunity to play the Monument or the Pinnacle courses can't be passed up. Both courses are traditional desert layouts, but each has a separate, distinct personality. Both boast five sets of tees, playing from roughly 7,000 yards for championship golfers and 4,980 for women and children, with bent grass greens and bermuda grass fairways.

The Monument, which is the original course on the site, opened up in 1990 and is considered the better of the two. Designed by the elite team of Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, it plays to a difficult 7,028 yards with a rating of 73.3 and a slope of 147 from the tips, the black tees.

The above average golfer could give it a shot from the gold tees (6,636 yards/71.0 rating/133 slope), but silver (6,246/69.8/129) is probably the place to make the round enjoyable.

The 7,044-yard Pinnacle, designed solely by Weiskopf, opened in 1995 with a rating of 73.4 and a slope of 147. It is the more scenic of the two courses, with grand elevation changes and vistas, but it is also more difficult.

Some golfers, myself included, consider it border-line too difficult. But every time you plop another ball out of bounds, look over your shoulder toward Pinnacle Peak and remember where you are and be thankful that courses like this one are still open to the public.

The accolades for the Monument are too numerous to list. Golfweek Magazine ranks it the No. 1 in the state and No. 22 nationally (of courses built after 1960). Golf Digest rated it No. 91 in the country, public or private, and as the 10th-best public course in the nation in 1997. Golf Magazine goes one step further, calling it the 70th-best overall course and the eighth-best public course in the country.

The Pinnacle isn't far behind. Golf Digest rated it the second-best new course nationally in 1996 and the eighth-best course in the state in 1997.

The two courses wind through an upscale neighborhood -- some of the houses cost up to $400,000 -- but many of the holes take vacations from the surrounding civilization, giving you the feel that you're in the middle of nowhere, lost in the desert.

The most memorable sights, the large piles of gigantic granite boulders, are strewn throughout the course, sometimes in the middle of play. Wildlife is abundant as well, including tons of bunnies, lizards and an occasional coyote.

Two pieces of advice if you play either course -- Take your complimentary yardage book with you everywhere (to avoid unforeseen trouble) and arrive early for the free range balls and putting green, so you can warm up, mentally and physically.

I played both courses in mid-August when the courses are supposed to be out of shape, but Troon showed virtually no signs of wear and tear from the summer heat. The grass on the tees was so green and crisp (even on several aerated tees), it had the appearance of Astroturf. Everything, except the desert, of course, was green, something I couldn't say for several of the other area courses I visited during the same time period.

There were only several minor problem areas -- several greens with cart tracks on them or one real rough spot near the 18th fairway, but nothing to detract from the otherwise immaculate conditions.

The Monument's signature hole is the par-5 11th hole, "The Saddle," which was honored as the No. 1 hole in the state by the Arizona Republic. It doglegs left to a wide fairway between fantastic granite formations. A desert wash 70 yards before the green gives long hitters a tough decision to make.

Two other par-5s, No. 9 "Hell Bunker" (yep, you guessed it) and No. 3 "Monument", are noteworthy. A giant rock, the monument the course is named after, sits smack dab in the middle of the third fairway, right where you want to hit your drive.

Other challenging holes to pay extra attention to, with your concentration and a camera, are the par-4s No. 4 "Balancing Rock", No. 6 "Gamble" and No. 10 "MacKenzie". On No. 4, first find the balancing rock, then try and find the green in two. It's guarded in front by a collection of boulders and on all sides by three steep bunkers.

The Gamble is a short hole (285 yards from the silvers), temping the foolish to drive the green. If you miss, four bunkers and more rocks short of the green are sure to gobble up your ball. To solve MacKenzie, an uphill par-4, stay out of the three fairway bunkers. The elevated, three-tier green is well-hidden by a large desert wash, which demands shorter hitters to lay up.

The par-3s will test four different clubs in your bag and your fortitude, ranging from 117 to 170 yards from the silver tees. The shortest of the four, No. 16 "Post Card," might be the best. If you don't hit the green, you're probably in the water, one of three bunkers, or the desert.

After a warm-up on the Monument (ha, ha), you should be ready to tackle the Pinnacle. Make sure you have enough film first. How much tougher is the Pinnacle? It almost has more bunkers on the front nine (47) than the Monument has on its entire course (48).

All in all, the 79 bunkers, the longer carries off the tee, the tighter fairways, the uphill climbs, and the limited chances to score (all the par 3s are more than 165 yards from the silver tees) can take a toll on your pride.

Still, the par-37 front nine, which has three par-5s, is generally considered the best nine at the facility, if not the state. Each hole leads you gradually closer to Pinnacle Peak. The granite piles here are nothing short of astounding, especially on the par-4 3rd hole, which is also home to nine bunkers. After the long uphill par-5 5th hole, the short 275-yard "Canyon Pass" has birdie written all over it.

Next, the "Lone Mountain" par-3, plays shorter than 220 yards with the major plunge from tee to green.

Many of the approach shots on the flatter back nine are somewhat hard to figure out unless you've played the course before. Four of them require another carry over desert wash with your irons. The uphill par-3 16th and par-4 18th are two of the better finishing holes.

The Troon experience doesn't end on the courses, either. The employees take care of your every desire, and the food in the bi-level clubhouse is outstanding. Although it didn't make the latest rankings, the pro shop at Troon was ranked among "America's Top 100 Golf Shops'' in '98, as selected by Golf Shop Operations.

The completion of the nearby Four Seasons Resort of Scottsdale, which is scheduled to open in December '99 on Alma School Parkway at the foothills of Pinnacle Peak, will only add to Troon's appeal.

The 1999 fees are as follows and might change in 2000: Sept 1-28 ($145), Oct. 1-28 ($160), Oct. 29-Jan. 20 ($185), Jan. 21-April 2 ($240), April 3-May 23 ($190), May 24-29 ($160), May 30-Aug. 31 (Mon.-Thurs. $75; Fri.-Sun. $90).

To make a tee time, which are in high demand in the winter-spring season, call (602) 585-0540. For more information, visit either or

Troon North Golf Club
28510 N. 103rd Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85255

Jason Scott DeeganJason Scott Deegan, Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Wrong info

    Jeff wrote on: Sep 23, 2018

    I think the author got these courses mixed up. "Monument" is a par 4 on the Pinnacle 18, the par 3 he mentions if u miss u will end up in the water is also the par 3 16 on Pinnacle course not monument.