Tournament Courses for the 2020 Scottsdale Open

Tournament Players Club of Scottsdale - Stadium Course
It’s certainly a thrill to step to the tee and hit a shot at the world famous 16th hole arena with your partner while playing in the Scottsdale Open. It’s a bucket list moment and the only thing missing is the roar of the crowd from the 20,000 seat, 3-story high grandstand structures that completely surround the 163-yarder.

But as much fun as it is play to play the TPC Scottsdale Stadium course just before the pros jet in for the Waste Management Phoenix Open, watching them handle the same golf course on television a few weeks later may be the most savory part of the adventure. These guys? They’re really good.

The pros have had a go at Tom Weiskopf’s redesign of his revolutionary 1980’s layout three times now and the 17-under posted last year by Hideki Matsuyama and play-off loser Webb Simpson is beginning to approach the 20-plus-unders of years gone by.

Although the split-fairway at the par-5 thirteenth is gone, Tiger’s boulder is still there. And the much tougher 14th, now requiring two solidly-struck shots, both decidedly uphill, is the perfect introduction to the unmatched risk-reward finish that holes 15 through 18 have delivered since Day One.

Weiskopf assembled 5 years of the Tour’s Shotlink data and reconfigured his original bunkering scheme to match where the data showed today’s pros are driving their golf ball – actually reducing the total number of fairway bunkers in the process. Together with the relocation and rebuilding of 4 green complexes, and new putting surfaces for all 18 greens, the Stadium Course presents both the tour player and the recreational player as much of a test as they wish to select, and a day well spent taking it on.

Of the 29 courses that make up the PGA Tour's TPC chain, the TPC Scottsdale is generally ranked just behind the signature TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, FL, home of the Players Championship. But the Stadium does something that Sawgrass will never do: provide seating and unobstructed views of the action for over 100,000 fans per day on its ubiquitous mounds, which provide a natural amphitheater on almost every hole.

The Stadium Course opened for play in 1986 and was built at the urging of then-tour commissioner Deane Beman, who wanted an "arena" layout that could host the massive half-million a week Phoenix Open galleries the tournament attracts; it's the best attended golf tournament in the world. Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish teamed up to create the design. They began with a flat piece of land adjacent to the Central Arizona Project Irrigation Canal and moved several million cubic yards of earth to create the undulations that define the course and mounding where the 100,000 fans per day cheer on the best players in the world.

Although the TPC Scottsdale lies in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, the Stadium Course features a traditional design with the nearby McDowell Mountains as a backdrop. The generous fairways are a tee ball bombers dream and the pros card some of the lowest scores of the PGA Tour season during their competitive week here; but it's no pushover now. For them, or for the weekend warrior.
Troon North Golf Club - Monument Course
Way back in 1989, Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish created a masterpiece called the Monument, which captured Golf Digest’s “Best New Public Golf Course’’ award when it made its debut. It was a revolutionary moment in Arizona golf, as the Monument’s dramatic desert landscape setting and impeccable playing conditions raised the bar for public daily-fee golf, certainly in the Southwest and perhaps nationally.

Weiskopf still chuckles about what he and former partner Morrish wrought. “What’s funny today is that back then most golf people thought a daily fee of $80 or $90 would never fly,’’ he said. “Now they’re charging well over $300 and people are standing in line to play the golf course.’’

Today, the original Monument course layout no longer exists, as its original front nine was paired several years ago with the front nine of the second layout built at Troon, the Pinnacle Course, a solo-Weiskopf design produced after he and Morrish stopped collaborating. The respective back nines of the two courses were paired up to play together as well.

Reshuffling the nines of the two courses improved circulation around the 36-hole facility and with all the spectacular golf holes built there, finding a consensus pick regarding which “new” layout is the better test is more than difficult - it remains a toss-up among most avid players to this day.

Our case is pitched this way: The front nine on the Pinnacle, now the Monument’s back nine, was the better of the two original Pinnacle nines. When you combine that "better-nine" with the Monument course’s original front nine, which is where a Monument round still starts today, and includes the signature one-of-a-kind, par-5 third hole aptly named “Monument,” we’ll tee it up there every time. Unless we're playing Pinnacle today, which is all good too!
Grayhawk Golf Club - Raptor Course
Scottsdale Open veterans have been pleased with the two new Tom Fazio golf holes at the Raptor for the past two years, numbers 15 and 16, as well as the redesigned seventeenth. The original 15th and 16th had to be sacrificed for land planning purposes, necessitated by changes to the original community masterplan drafted in the mid-1990's.

Grayhawk has always provided the finest high-end "member-for-a-day" experience, complete with country club amenities and facilities, and deservedly has hosted a number of pro tour events over the  years. The first was the Andersen Consulting World Match Play, the pioneer tournament that launched the World Golf Championship (WGC) series.

Designed by Tom Fazio in 1996, the big, bold and somewhat brazen Raptor also was the site of Tiger Woods' Target World Challenge in 1999 that produced local favorite Tom Lehman as its champ, as well as several other high-profile events. Golf Digest has named it one of the Top 10 public courses in Arizona.

The new 437-yard par-4 15th presents a generous, left to right sweeping fairway that most tee balls will find. The second shot plays a bit uphill to an ample-looking green. Looks can be deceiving, however, and a swale lurking in the center of the putting surface will collect any marginal approach shot and feed it off the back-left of the green.

The new sixteenth remains a 3-par affair. The raised green is articulated with three distinct tiers, and angles away from the tee box. Yardage to the front-left pin position measures 129, and back-right requires a 168-yard carry. Any shot that doesn't find and hold the putting surface will be swept away to the tight-turf chipping areas that surround the target.

These two new golf holes required a re-design of the seventeenth which many may find produces a better match between what is now a mid-to-short iron second shot and the original false-front, "not a flat spot on it" 17th green.

Now playing at 331 yards, here's the good news: the fairway has been widened on the left side with new turf and removal of an original fairway bunker. The bad news is that now, should you knock your tee ball too far up that inviting, turfed left side of the fairway, you'll be blocked from the green by the mature mesquite tree that has been living there since day one.

Raptor has has yielded plenty of low scores and plenty of clunkers, the primary difference is keeping it in the short grass. That sounds simple, but the transition areas at Grayhawk can be visually intimidating. There's plenty of room out there - trust it - and calmly make your move. Keep it in the fairways and you'll be pleased with your card at the end of the round.

Scottsdale Open Golf Grayhawk Raptor Aces and Eights
There are several memorable holes on Raptor, including No. 8, a 135-yard par 3 called "Aces and Eights" that has served up plenty of both. Its name is a reference to a poker term known as a "dead man's hand," supposedly four of the five cards Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he was shot in the back in Saloon No. 10 at Deadwood, S.D.

Raptor's terrific par-5 finishing hole plays downhill at 521 yards and is reachable in two by most, but a large lake hugs the right side and the fairway and green both pitch toward it. The approach apron is narrow, with large bunkers guarding the left side, and shots blasted from them run severely downhill, and often into the hazard.

The course has plenty to offer, which is why it also hosted such events as the made-for-TV Tommy Bahama Challenge Matches (2004-05) that pitted young guns from the PGA and European Tours in a Ryder Cup-style format with the comedic duo of Gary McCord (U.S.) and David Feherty (Euros) as captains.
It's also hosted the Tommy Bahama Desert Marlin, which attracts notables from the PGA Tour in a preseason shootout, and formerly served as the site of the Open, a PGA Tour Fall Series event.

If that's not enough Tour flavor, Grayhawk has also sponsored superstar Phil Mickelson on Tour since his rookie season in 1993. The club prides itself on service and it shows from drop-off to pick-up. Practice facilities are first rate and it is the site of the (Peter) Kostis/McCord golf school.

After your round, don't miss one of the best 19th holes in the State, known as Phil's Grill. If the prime-rib sliders don't blow you away, go for Phil's (non-vegetarian) favorite - half-pound barn burger, haystack of fries and a root beer.