Scottsdale Open Golf Tournament Courses

TPC 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.

They’ve had a go at Tom Weiskopf’s redesign of his revolutionary 1980’s layout twice now and the 14-under posted last year by Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama is a far cry from the 20-plus-unders of years gone by. Fowler drove it over the green and into the water last year at the par-4 17th, handing Matsuyama the playoff victory and adding another page to the “Wild-ride Closing Stretch” TPC Scottsdale storybook.

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.
WeKoPa Golf Club - Cholla Course
Even though it's often referred to the "original" course at WeKoPa these days, the Cholla course is the main attraction for many avid local players when they choose WeKoPa Golf Club for their daily, weekly, monthly golf-jones fix.

Built in 2001 by Scottsdale's own golf course architect, Scott Miller, the Cholla course tips out at 7,225 yards, but offers several, more entertaining tee boxes between there and the front tees at 5,289. Cholla is rip-roaring fun thanks to its constantly changing terrain and endless variety of risk-reward golf hole designs.

Cholla’s thrilling adventure across the Native American reservation of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation begins at the first tee. Have a look at the header photo at the top of this page. Elevated far above the first fairway below, you can play nearly any mid to long club in your bag. Your task is to determine how much, if any, you want to cut off the nearly 90-degree, downhill, dogleg left par-4, which plays much shorter than its official 351 yards. Pick a club, match it to a line and execute.

That’s followed up by a slight double-dog-leg par-5 that slithers its way gently uphill to a partially hidden green, and then it's onward to the dramatic, par-3 third which glistens like an emerald green jewel dropped into this natural, arid terrain.

Wow, whether you're two-under or four-over after these first three, fasten your seat belt because this Scott Miller thrill ride just keeps getting better all day.

New and improved for 2017 is the difficult par-5 eighth, which offers a signature “Kodak moment’’ shot into a green complex that is drop-dead gorgeous. The tee shot is launched from one of the highest points on the course to a fairway that’s too wide to miss, before breaking sharply to the right and down the hill. It’s your second shot that puzzles here.

The green complex in the distance is artfully tucked into a rocky box canyon, on the opposite side of a natural arroyo that was reconfigured with a bit more turfed layup room for 2017. A lay-up short of it leaves you a sticky, downhill, side-hill lie for your third that can be troublesome. There's plenty of room down there now so have a go at it this year.

If choosing your strategy's not enough distraction, just add the awe-inspiring backdrop beyond featuring the namesake Four Peaks mountain, pronounced “wee-koh-pah’’ in the native Yavapai language. The eighth is great fun and no matter what you card here, your eye-candy appetite will be satisfied.

The back nine is just as exhilarating, with a non-stop barrage of special par-3s, short and long 4-pars, and risk-reward par-5s – all with exquisite green complexes with elegant putting surfaces.

So how is it that the Cholla is often overlooked in favor of the Saguaro course if it’s really this much nonstop excitement? Well, call it the Coore-Crenshaw factor, as the design team of Bill and Ben, and their "minimalist" design philosophy are pretty popular these days. But a lot of those who rate golf courses for a living recognize this first offering at We-Ko-Pa has a lot more pizazz. We agree.

If you find yourself in need of an elevator speech comparing the two courses at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club use this:

"Cholla, the original course, is played through the air and Saguaro, the one Crenshaw did, is played on the ground. They may be the best onsite, sister course pairing in the desert southwest, and that's why next Saturday, I booked us for a 36-hole day!"
Grayhawk Golf Club - Raptor Course
Scottsdale Open veterans were pkeased with the two new Tom Fazio golf holes at the Raptor last year, 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 like 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.

The 10th, a 390-yard par 4, is a strategic hole where a creek cuts across the fairway on an angle. With a driver off the tee, it's easy to reach the water on the right side. If you go left where there is more room, the fairway is just 15 yards wide. The approach is to a green with two distinct tiers and water wrapping along the left side.

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.