After about two full months off of golf travel (I played a couple casual rounds locally earlier this month), I was finally back on the road for a quick two-day trip to the Phoenix-Scottsdale area which I love. There is certainly no shortage of amazing golf here.
The main reason for my trip will be revealed in the third of my four course reviews that I will post sequentially throughout this coming week. That particular round led to some connections that would allow me to access two of my top Arizona “wish list” courses without having to pay lofty peak season rates.
The first round of my trip was at a place I’ve been dying to get back to for seven years: Troon North Golf Club in Scottsdale.
The Pinnacle Course at Troon North was one of the first courses I had played in Arizona. That was back in 2012 as the kickoff to an incredible state-by-state road trip that took me all the way out to Kansas City and back. At that time, Pinnacle was widely regarded as the top course at this incredible facility, which is why I chose to play it first. I sure loved it. During the time in between my visits, they have made some renovations to both courses.. As a result, it is now very common to see Monument listed just as high—in many cases, higher—than its counterpart on “best in state” rankings.
Both courses at Troon North were designed by Tom Weiskopf, and I also see Jay Morrish listed with the Monument Course on GolfAdvisor. No matter how you want to rank them against each other, they are two fantastic courses with complementary styles and settings.
Troon North offers everything you want when you visit Scottsdale to play golf. We’re talking dramatic desert course designs that can be stretched out and played at a championship level or softened a bit for casual resort play, depending on which tees you select. We’re also talking about beautiful scenery with sweeping vistas and a lot of natural elements in play like giant boulders, saguaro cacti and wildlife sightings (rattlesnakes, bobcats, coyotes, javelina, gila monsters and of course plenty of roadrunners). There are houses along both courses, but nothing that really detracts from the scenery.
The Monument Course offers somewhat deceptive angles from the tee boxes. Things often appear narrower than they actually are with bail-out areas obstructed by the desert surroundings. This kind of lulls you into a false sense of confidence on the front nine as you can get away with some slightly wayward shots. However, that starts to change on the back nine as things really do get tighter and every shot is more demanding.
A number of holes stood out to me. On the front nine, you have the 3rd hole (aka “The Monument”) that features a very unique and large boulder right in the middle of the fairway of this dogleg right par-5.
The back nine really gets going with the 11th hole (“Dynamite Ridge”), which is an uphill par-5 with one of the narrowest fairways out here and an uncomfortable tee shot. The back nine never really lets down in enjoyment after this with the stretch of 15-17 really giving you the signature holes.
The 15th (“Canyon Pass”) is a short and tricky uphill par-4 that might be drivable for some. The 16th (“Lone Mountain”) is the signature par-3 that is long, but downhill and offers a great elevated tee view. Speaking of views, the 17th (“Westward Look”) is a long par-4 with another fantastic elevated tee box vista.
It’s rare that I come out to Arizona during the peak season because courses are so crowded and expensive, so it was a special treat to play Troon North in late March. All I can say is that the conditions were exceptional and just about perfect on every level. Some spots were a little bit soft and still wet from the overnight watering (my group teed off at 7:20 with a four-hour pace). Otherwise, it was lush and green from edge to edge. The rough was the thickest, deepest and toughest rough I have played in quite some time, ranging from 4-6 inches in length and just extra grabby. The greens were nice and rolling well at ideal speeds, picking up a little pace as the round went on and things dried out.
It’s safe to say that you cannot go wrong with whichever course you choose to play at Troon North. They are equally magnificent, and hopefully you have an opportunity to play both. It is not cheap here, so it’s all about how much you want to splurge to play two of the nicest courses in a region loaded with top-shelf desert resort golf.
Some pictures from Troon North Golf Club (Monument) (3/28/19):
(Click on any picture below to pull up a gallery slideshow.)