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90 2009 GREATER PHOENIX ULTIMATE GUIDE TO LIVING HERE recreation by Jake Poinier G olfers love lists. But more than that, they love checking off the places they've played — and comparing scorecards ( and opinions) afterwards. With more than 200 choices, the Valley creates more 19th hole arguments than it resolves. Perfect foursome Nonetheless, a side- by- side comparison of the major golf magazines would dictate that the foursome of We- Ko- Pa, Troon North, Talking Stick and Gray-hawk should be at the top of anybody's leader board. Arizona's reputation as a resort town plays heavily into the equation as well, with Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, Golfweek and Condé Nast coming in near agreement as to the " must play" destinations: Four Seasons Resort at Troon North; the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess; the Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa; Longbow Golf Club in Mesa; Westin Kierland Resort & Spa; and Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa. Travel + Leisure Golf also makes mention of the Phoenician as " Best for Family Trips" and the Four Seasons Resort at Troon North as " Best for Buddy Trips." Greener grass With some of the nation's heaviest play, the top courses occasionally need a bit of TLC. One of the most notable face lifts in the past year included TPC of Scottsdale's former Desert course, which recently re- opened after a $ 10 million makeover to lengthen the layout to 7,100 yards, among other tweaks. The work obviously paid off, earning the course a # 41 ranking in Golfweek's " Best New Courses" list. Kudos are also flowing for Troon North Golf Club's revamped new 36- hole configuration. The Monument course's place among Golf Digest's " 100 Greatest Public Courses," and both courses' place among Golf Magazine's " Top 100 Courses You Can Play," appear to be secure for years to come. Perhaps the most intriguing renovation in town is Papago Golf Course, built in 1963 and for a long time considered the best public golf course in the state. The course, tucked against the Papago Buttes, was designed by William Francis ( Billy) Bell, whose portfolio includes renowned Torrey Pines ( where Phil Mickelson played in high school) in San Diego. The course reopened for play in December 2008. Sometimes, of course, it pays to take the path least traveled — undoubtedly a relative descriptor in the golf- crazy Valley. An hour east from downtown Phoenix in the Superstition Mountains, Gold Canyon Golf Resort's Dinosaur Mountain track ranks among Golf Magazine's top 10 underrated courses, while Travel + Leisure names the Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa and Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort among the country's most underrated golf resorts. Par for the Course Believe it or not, you'd need to tee it up four days a week to play every course in the Valley in a single year The Valley of the Sun boasts more than 200 golf courses, making it one of the top golfing destinations in the country. photo: The arizona republic recreation

2009 GREATER PHOENIX ULTIMATE GUIDE TO LIVING HERE 91 Five photo finishes ASU Karsten, Tempe The 18th hole on this Pete Dye links layout was named one of the most difficult holes in Arizona by Arizona Golf Journal, while Western Links Magazine calls it " one of the best finishing holes in the West." SunRidge Canyon, Fountain Hills This 432- yard par 4 plays longer and tougher than the scorecard shows— adjacent to a lake and uphill, with a progressively steeper grade. Named one of the Valley's Best 18 by The Arizona Republic. Eagle Mountain, Fountain Hills Another occupant among the Valley's Best, this hole ( nicknamed " That's Golf") drops nore than 100 feet from the tee box to a wide fairway. Troon North ( Pinnacle), Scottsdale It's No. 1 when it comes to No. 18s — with a backdrop of Pinnacle Peak, The Republic's readers and expert panel selected this as numero uno in the Valley. TPC of Scottsdale With water left and a fairway bunker ready to eat up near-perfect drives, this fine finisher for the PGA TOUR's FBR Open is arguably the most famous 18th on the list. GOLF DIGEST: Greatest in Arizona 1. Forest Highlands Golf Course ( Canyon) Flagstaff 2. The Estancia Club Scottsdale 3. The Stone Canyon Course Oro Valley 4. Pine Canyon Flagstaff 5. The Club at Seven Canyons Sedona 6. The Rim Golf Course Payson 7. Desert Forest Golf Course Carefree 8. Forest Highlands Golf Course ( Meadow) Flagstaff 9. The Golf Club Scottsdale 10. Troon Golf and Country Club Scottsdale 11. Whisper Rock Golf Course ( Upper) Scottsdale 12. The Golf Course at Chaparral Pines Payson 13. Quintero Golf and Country Club Peoria 14. Desert Highlands Golf Course Scottsdale 15. Whisper Rock Golf Course ( Lower) Scottsdale 16. The Gallery Golf Course ( North) Marana 17. The Mirabel Course Scottsdale 18. Desert Mountain Course ( Chiricahua) Scottsdale 19. Silverleaf Golf Course Scottsdale 20. Troon North Golf Course ( Monument) Scottsdale 21. Talking Rock Club Prescott 22. Blackstone Country Club Peoria 23. Desert Mountain Course ( Renegade) Scottsdale 24. Desert Mountain Course ( Geronimo) Scottsdale 25. The Gallery Golf Course ( South) Marana GOLFWEEK: Best You Can Play in Arizona 1. We- Ko- Pa ( Saguaro) Fountain Hill 2. We- Ko- Pa ( Cholla) Fountain Hill 3. Troon North ( Monument) Scottsdale 4. Talking Stick ( North) Scottsdale 5. Boulders Resort ( North) Carefree 6. Ventana Canyon ( Mountain) Tucson 7. Golf Club at Estrella Phoenix 8. Laughlin Ranch Bullhead City 9. SunRidge Canyon Fountain Hills 10. Grayhawk ( Raptor) Scottsdale 11. Boulders Resort ( South) Carefree 12. TPC Scottsdale ( Stadium) Scottsdale 13. Troon North ( Pinnacle) Scottsdale 14. Wigwam ( Gold) Litchfield Park 15. Arizona National Tucson 16. Talking Stick ( South) Scottsdale 17. Grayhawk ( Talon) Scottsdale 18. Ventana Canyon ( Canyon) Tucson 19. Apache Stronghold Globe 20. Whirlwind ( Cattail), Chandler photos: The arizona republic TOP: The Boulders INSET: The Pinnacle course at Troon North