Play Where the Pros Play in Arizona

By Scott Behmer, Contributor

Tucson, Ariz. - Arizona is home to five PGA, Senior PGA, and LPGA tournaments, ranking second among western states. Arizona is so popular because of the almost rain-free weather, unique natural surroundings, and its excellent courses. Luckily for the average golfer, four of the five courses are open to the public and the other can also be played in certain tournaments. This means you have the chance to compare how you play each course to how your favorite pros have played it.

TPC Scottsdale Champions Course - Par-4
Watch out for the bunkers at Phoenix Open host TPC Scottsdale.
TPC Scottsdale Champions Course - Par-4
If you go

The Tournament Players Course of Scottsdale is host to the most-attended golf tournament in the world, the Phoenix Open. Fortunately, the course has plenty of open tee times so you can see for yourself if you, too, can drive the downhill, 335-yard, par 4 #16.

The TPC incorporates natural desert into the course only minimally, instead using water and thick rough to penalize errant shots. If the side the pros play is unavailable, you can still play the other 18 hole course. Each is a par 71 complete with full service clubhouse and locker rooms.

In addition, the golf shop has been ranked among the top 100 golf shops twelve consecutive years by Golf Shop Operations. And you know that any time you are playing a TPC course you're going to get your money's worth.

Also in Scottsdale is the Desert Mountain Golf Resort, used for the Senior Tour's first major, The Tradition. Held at the Cochise Course, desert lines every hole creating many anxious moments on the tee. Further, water comes into play on one of each nine's most difficult holes, the 194-yard, par 3 #7, and the 550-yard, par 5 #15. v Both dare you to flirt with the water if you want birdie. In fact, the water on #15 is so menacing that even with an easily reachable second shot, the pros just advance the ball down the fairway for their third shot. No matter when you play here, it's sure to be better weather than last March's snowfest.

Phoenix only hosts one Tour event this year, the Standard Register Ping at Moon Valley Country Club. It's closed to the public, but they do hold various tournaments when you can get in and enjoy this beautiful golf setting. It's a lush design with plenty of shade for summer golf. The greens are excellent. With smooth bent-grass surfaces you just need to start the ball on line and it's in the hole.

In March, Tucson hosts one of the LPGA's strongest fields at the Ping/Welch's Championship at Randolph North Municipal Golf Course. Randolph North is a former host of the PGA's Tucson Open and has hosted the LPGA for more than a decade.

There's nothing desert about this midwestern layout. Giant pine trees line the fairways and numerous bunkers guard the small greens. The greens, kept in excellent shape year-round, along with improved locker rooms and a new, large clubhouse to make this Arizona's premier municipal course.

Finally, Tucson National Golf Resort hosts the PGA's fourth oldest event, the Touchstone Energy Tucson Open. 27 holes of championship golf and one of Arizona's most decorated resorts create an ideal place to vacation. The pros play the green and gold nines, which also have a traditional midwestern layout, with mature shade trees lining the holes.

Tucson National makes exceptional use of water, providing definition to the layout and creating even more of a challenge to the great golf holes. Annually, the 445-yard, par 4 #18 is ranked among the Tour's most difficult holes. Water borders both sides of the fairway creating the most difficult drive in southern Arizona. Do well on this hole and your confidence will skyrocket.

Arizona is fortunate to host so many of the three Tours' events. They can all be played by the public, and they should be. They are five of the best courses in Arizona.

Scott Behmer, Contributor

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