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Played Talking Stick Golf Club - Piipaash (formerly South) course on Sunday March 22nd with my father for his birthday round even amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Got a hot deal from GolfNow at 12:19 pm for $78 (in comparison to around $120 for similar times) and we weren't paired with anyone else. We showed up and the course had signage for the updated policies in remedy of COVID-19 (place your own bags on the cart near drop off, freshly sanitized carts, only one person per group check in at pro shop, pool noodles in the holes to prevent touching flagstick and other features) and we headed off to the driving range with free practice balls before the round. The driving range is split into two parts: one for daily pay golfers and other for teaching/clinic/lesson groups. The daily pay golfers' area was quite slim, with plenty of balls and equally amount of divots present. I counted about 15 slots which isn't a lot taking into account there's two courses that share the range. Nonetheless, we were accounted for and off onto the course with help by the touch-free interactions with the ranger and cart staff.

Onto the course, the conditions were prime. The tee boxes were well lined, manicured and accepted plastic/wooden tees with little effort. The fairways were wide and exempt of any bare spots, beautifully lush with the occasional large divot but not in any way obstructing from approach shots. The rough surrounding the fairways and greens were quite lengthy from the recent rain and moisture; definitely adding to the aesthetic and also difficulty if the wide, forgiving fairways were missed. The greens were pure...yes there were pitch-marks that were in recovery mode but for the most part it was as pure as Arizona March golf can get. The bunkers were of great consistency. However, with the prior mentioned alterations to the golf course in reaction to the virus, there's no rakes (in order to limit transmission from human-object-human) which made for the bunkers to act like actual hazards. Fun twist but I definitely appreciated the rakes more now seeing how many bunkers I was in all day.

The Piipaash course is a wide open (similar to O'odham) course that finds its difficulties around the greens and near the edges of the fairways. Many fairways seem to favor the left to right ball shape with an aggressive line cutting the dogleg often intercepted by the multitude of fairway bunkers. The greens have tremendous slope that challenges even the best of putters (I was not one that day) and rewards the sharpest of iron players who can play their approach atop a crest and become rewarded with the ball rolling closer to the hole. I found myself loving the aggressive line all too much because of how wide and welcoming the course is presented only to find myself in a bunker or the rough a few too main times. However! When the aggressive line is executed, the golf endorphins kick in and make this course all the MORE enjoyable.

Informed by an ex-instructor at this course, Piipaash is the easier of the two to score low on but due to the greens and water present a lot easier to have a score balloon quickly; I unfortunately confirmed the former.

Great course(s) on a flat stretch of land inside of the social mecca of a Scottsdale casino quarter often filled with music performers during summer pool parties, this course is worth the visit currently.
Played on a beautiful September 6th Friday for a 10:48am tee time. Booked off the course's website for $37 which does not anymore include range balls. The bag drop assistant was present and pulled the cart around near the pro shop after we paid. The starter told us we were playing Gold to Blue combination and we were off on our way. The course was empty except for about 5 groups or so, but the cart girl was servicing us until after 1:00 pm which was near the end of our round. We finished in 3 hours and 40 minutes. Good pace for midday.

The course conditions were far exceeding what we experienced when I played a few months ago. The tee boxes were all pristine setting up a great visual into green and lush fairways and rough surroundings. The fairways were all very clean, sitting any ball that found the fairway up in a great lie. The rough was long all day; they even seemed a bit layered in the way the US Open has graduating rough the more you miss the fairway. I noticed that about 10 yards from the fairway the rough was reaching up to the top of my shoes, I loved the look and play. The fairway bunkers and green side bunkers were all superb with no over-watering present and they didn't seem hard at all (I wasn't in one all day thankfully but my dad was, he never complained of unplayable conditions). The greens, wow. I remember playing this course a year or two ago and they were horrendous; one day they'd be burnt out and covered in bare spots and the next they'd be shaggy and running at around a 5 on the stimp. Not today, they were clean, fast and receptive to every shot imaginable. Any putt stayed on the line it started on and was a joy to putt on all day.

This course is amazing when it's in the shape it was in today (Friday). Every hole looked how the course's website presents itself. We were both amazed at the shape it was in as we've been playing this course for over a decade now and it WAS on the decline these past few years, but today. Man. I'd pay over $50 in September if it stayed in this shape. Bravo to the efforts and money put into this place and hopefully in the fall/winter they don't lose it because I'm looking forward to returning quickly.
Played at Ken McDonald Golf Course at 9:36am for $28 with my 4some sunday group on August 11. There was also a lunch special offered at check in for two drinks and a lunch, don't know how long that'll last but I (two of the four declined) didn't take the offer. The customer service was ample, there were a long layout of golf carts awaiting our choosing and I only mention that because in the past I have had issues waiting for one to be cleaned and returned. This course has three practice greens with one full size bunker, and a lighted driving range with matts on certain days. Good, not great, amenities.

The course has went through it's ups and downs and I have been one to be more enlightening of this Tempe City muni as I always felt it was a great value and on the upswing. I was right. The tee boxes here, of various lengths and difficulties, were nice and tidy without being too wet nor summer dried. The fairways had a nice green color hue to them offering up a plenty of lifted lies awaiting the club's impact for the approach. The greens were smooth on the front nine, with a few greens struggling to not die on the back nine (which I find ironic; they have dead spots on a few greens, most notably two par 3's of 11 and 13, even though they brag with their informational pamphlet visible inside the carts about why their greens are cut higher than most places which is to KEEP them alive). Anyways, the greens for the most part were well trimmed and rolled smoothly at around a 10.5 all day without being to baked or impacted by high approach shots. The bunkers were well textured, not crispy but not soaking wet. Fair to great conditions all day, especially considering this is a municipal course in the middle of August.

This course strategy is a fun, simple and rather flat layout with elevation changes that'll get your heart racing (sarcasm) however with the improving conditions year in and year out with customer service becoming more of a focal point...I can only see myself returning here more and more. Worth a play now, and when you'd like to save some dough and play in the winter without breaking the bank.
Played today August 4th at 9:50am at the Dinosaur Mountain course with my usual foursome for $48 which includes range balls prior. The resort parking lot is shared with the golf courses' parking lot so parking can be a burden but the cart guys grabbed our bags and we were led out to the first tee with the starter who pointed out the mountain called Dinosaur and a few other helpful tips. The carts had a cooler (there are no water stations on course!) and a club washer. The cart girl serviced us three times, even with temperatures reaching well into the 100's and offered cold, mango scented towels. Exquisite service throughout.

The course conditions were, to be expected, of the excellent variety. The tee boxes, which there are 6 of ranging from forward women's to the men's championship tips. They all were well trimmed and firm accepting of tees of varying height, even par 3's had limited divots that were nicely filled with seed (which there aren't any on cart). There was one hole that had a little sloping but just nearby at another tee position was new sod being laid so I know they'll be working on fixing that. The fairways were firm and never dried out, limited dry spots if any with any divots filled with seed as well. Most surprising was the perfect texture of the fairways without being too soft and too hard. The greens, well guarded by mounding throughout the course, were recently aerated however they are fair, smooth and well enough fast. Any missed putts in the group weren't because of the punching a few weeks ago. The bunkers, throughout the course are visible aplenty, were well textured and manicured allowing for any shot to be played in the fairway or green side.

This course presents itself throughout the mountains, obviously, perfectly. Nothing too obnoxious that some courses can be guilty of and there isn't any forced difficulty. The first hole is a prime example, the mountains are visible without being overbearing. A gentle incline into a well guarded green. The second is a par 3 with noticeable elevation change but the landing areas are large and there's plenty of room to miss. This can be expected while you play here, fun holes that present a great landscape for the day. The course strategy isn't too difficult either, fairways are generous and the greens are large. Bunkers are placed in the right areas with water only present on one hole and it's guess what? Not in your face but there if you miss poorly, with plenty of area to bail out and play it smart.

This course, and whole complex really, leads to a great day out in the desert mountain ranges of the east valley consistently. If you haven't played here, read this: if you want pristine conditions with a fair challenge without manufactured difficulties, great customer service year-round and some social media worthy pics...come play either course at Gold Canyon Golf Resort and you won't be disappointed.
Played with my usual Sunday threesome here at 11:02 am for $20 off a hot deal on GolfNow. This course never allows for singles to book so I've never played here, and the last time one of my partners in the threesome played here was some 5 odd years ago. We were excited. This course has an extensive history with being one of the first courses established around 1913, before Arizona was even officially a state. The service was acceptable, the cart guys grabbed our bags, we checked in, hit the bar to grab our drinks as there wasn't a cart girl out on the hot Sunday we played.

We were off without warmup due to the driving range being simply foam golf balls into a 150 yard grassy area with a few trimmed "greens". The conditions on the tee boxes, with around 4 sets of tee to play from, were nice and acceptable of any tee. The fairways were a little overgrown, but noticeably lower than the rough. The rough was quite lush, it'll hide your ball pretty well and impact any approach shot. The greens, which we were warned of being slow, were pretty pristine. Soft and receptive on any shots into the green but rolled true with putts. Not seemingly baked at all and fun to putt on...once you were successfully on the greens. The bunkers, which all are SURROUNDING the small greens were a little inconsistent. Some were soft and well raked while others could be firm and packed a bit too tight. The only weird thing about the conditions was the absence of the fringe, it was basically trimmed greens and immediately off the greens was the rough and crabgrass.

This course is for sure a parkland style course, with very little desert seen if any and if you saw desert shrubbery it was because of the houses that are prominently lining the holes of this resort/hotel course. The fairways are rather accepting of errant tee shots but to score well, bring your sharpest of irons because these greens are the size of postage stamps. Every green was in great shape, which is great because you needed the ability to putt well with all of the greens being defended by at least one bunker, up to three surrounding the green complexes. My only gripe was this course strategically could be great if the greens weren't under 1,000 square feet because EVERY green is surrounded by bunkers. It's not necessarily target golf other than with the greens but the greens limit your options for approach shots, they need to be able to fly and stop quickly.

It was a fun course, albeit rather challenging with my below average iron game that Sunday, and with the conditions I'll be back but it's not for the everyday hacker that can't accurately control their irons. If you can't bring some swim shorts and a towel because you'll be at the beach all day.
Played Arizona Golf Resort with a $11 hot deal tee time off GolfNow at 9:52am on the 26th of July. The greens had recently been punched and sanded, just to state before hand so that's probably part of the reason that tee time was being offered. The last time I played here was a while ago, and since then their customer service has been improved. Cart guys were present in the hot summer morning hours and the pro shop offered fair service as well upon check in. They offered me a course yardage guide for free which is a nice touch often not seen at courses now, they seem to always be of charge around $5.

The course is in fair shape besides the green as mentioned. The tee boxes were definitely immaculate, firm trimmed grass with just the right amount of firmness to hold a tee wherever placed. The fairways were softer then usual at this time of year though trimmed just above the height of a tee box. The rough was rather high, though in some places of the course less prevalent than other spots. I'd say the rough was around two inches all day, enough to lose a ball that doesn't find the fairway. The bunkers weren't dry but not necessarily fluffy, enough to hit the shot of choice green-side or to approach the green out of a fairway bunker. The greens were aerated , looking to be about three weeks away from playable healing.

The strategy behind this course is rather plain, a few doglegs which entice big hitters to try to cut with little reward available as often times a closer approach not meaning any easier. The fairways on most par 4's have two sections, a lay up portion ending around 150 yards left to the green and a go for it section often spliced by a cart path. Rather interesting that each fairway is designed this way but it's nothing to sneeze at either. The course is rather flat with very little change in height from tee boxes to greens and houses lining basically every hole, I wouldn't venture to say this feels like a resort course but much rather a community course.

It's a nice course that you can play golf at during the summer, but with the tee times spread out no more than 7 to 8 minutes I'd say this course is avoidable during the winter/fall time when the tee sheet is filled to the brim leading to 5 hour plus rounds that I myself have experienced here versus the 3 hour round I played yesterday.
Played Papago Golf course, new home of the ASU Golf program, at 11am on Sunday July 21st for around $25 through a call to the proshop. The facilities of this course have recently went through extensive renovation as well as the pro shop and grill. The range is elite through and through, multiple stations available up to around 100 golfers, multiple chipping and bunker practice areas available with a large putting green awaiting your attention prior to teeing off. The Cartbarnguys, known largely from the presence on social media, offer pristine customer service and the beverage cart employees were present as well on this 100+ degree day. Bravo.

Now onto the golf course itself. The tee boxes, which there are five to select from, looked level and had ample amount of room to tee off from allowing a tee to be pegged of any choosing. The fairways were trimmed nicely, presenting a firm roll out with few divots in the fairway providing great opportunity to hit an approach shot. The rough is characterized with consistent boundaries prior to getting to the oh so present desert shrubbery and dirt landscape. Rough wasn't too high but could bury a ball deep if you hit into the grass that hadn't been trampled on by carts. The greens were aerated on the week of the 8th of July so they were a bit on the sanded, recovery side. Should be in amazing shape within a week or two more. The bunkers were great, fluffy and soft to hit from greenside and just a touch firm next to the fairways. They were noticeably machine raked about everywhere there were, and there are a lot of them around this track.

The course presents itself as a tough stern championship worthy test, as it should being the home of a prestigious golf team in ASU. You must be able to drive your driver with accuracy and with distance to shoot a score out here. The bunkers are all placed in JUST the right spot making you sweat if the weather doesn't do that already. The greens have enough room to hit them if you do miss the fairway, however the amount of blind shots and multiple tiers in them make hitting the right spot a key. The golf and service is great, the price at this time of year around the $25-$40 range is doable, but I must say...for a prestigious course to have below average signage to navigate the course, no GPS on carts and a surprising lack of cart paths, more must be done. I understand how this may come off but if they want to tout being a Phoenix hidden gem and a championship worthy layout, the small things need to be accounted for.

All in all , a great course and viable challenge with an incredible amount of views of the adjacent cities and natural landscape but there are some views on the course that could use a touch up.
Played as a single for $11 off GolfNow June 27th at 1:00pm in this Queen Creek, neighborhood golf course. The staff inside the club shop was apt, it was the PGA Professional there that welcomed me and offered me to play alone as I showed up 40 minutes early to check this place out. I've heard of this place as a meat and potatoes golf course, and I would be inclined to agree. The staff wasn't too present, but it's summer. I don't blame them. I prepped my cart myself and was on my way.

The course presents itself as a high school/muni type community course so conditions are wavering. The tee boxes were trimmed nicely and allowed for really any setup among the 5 tee boxes. The fairways were good, nothing lush or perfectly trimmed but allowed for approach shots to have spin and accuracy when needed. Fairways sat the ball up well, however the edges of the fairways and rough is where things may get dicey. The rough was infested with that crab grass weed, not really any type of grown out rough but more so untrimmed weeds that only seemed maintained by the tires of golf carts. The sand in the bunkers were raked but nothing fluffy or noticeably immaculate. The greens were small and very soft, held true when putted upon without any visually present divot marks. The fringe was very prevalent, well cut and held any missed green shots allowing for any green side wedge shots to be played, I was thoroughly impressed with them.

This place is a golf course, one that is playable and enjoyable. I shot my best score relative to par ever here and throughout the day, I was looking around and just taking everything in trying to think of how I would encapsulate what this course presents. It's not really challenging, nor is it long in any fashion, the design doesn't capture the minds of what some would seek but it did leave me with this; it's a place to tee it up and knock a little ball into a hole. The tee boxes had trimmed grass, the fairways had a good consistent texture, the greens were nice to putt on and hit shots into, the bunkers had sand...isn't that a golf course?

I'd say if you haven't played this course but have heard about it, you might want to drive out here and play. If you've played it once and don't live close, you might not return and stay to replay it again and again. But hey, not every course will be a must play, and that's okay.
Played with my usual threesome on Sunday the 23rd of June for a hot deal of $10 per player off GolfNow. Pulling up as I stated in my review of this course last year, you're presented with a course that seems below average. However once you're on the grounds, the club house (recently renovated last year or so), the bar and grille, the ample putting greens, private instruction area near the 10th hole and the medium sized practice tee, you realize that's not the case. The service was great. We walked up and were offered to tee off whenever we were ready. So, we did.

The tee boxes were manicured well, with the mow patterns visible in the fairways and greens from the tee boxes. The boxes were all lush with no severe damage nor visible need of leveling. The fairways were firm but not rock hard and often presented your fairway finding drive sitting up in the grass. The rough was noticeably different in the way it was mowed height wise, but did not present any difficulty in finding the ball nor with your club selection to accurately hit the green. It was kinda just, different than the fairway. Not bad though. The greens were very pristine, no severe pitchmark damage and the roll on putts was fair and true. What I was most impressed with, was the definition of the mowing pattern on the fairways and greens. You usually don't see that at a cheap, retirement community golf course.

This course is fun, and worth the summer rates. I know, from what I've heard , that this course is impossible to get on when the snowbirds are in town and it's always packed when the weather is below that certain temperature that I can't quite figure out, probably 75. My preferred golfing temperature is 100 plus, so it's always empty and a great day out here. It's a good test for all your clubs, a chance to shoot a low score and fun to have a course to yourself during the summer. Worth the green fee for sure.
Played the renown East Mesa Las Sendas at 8:20am for a hot deal off GolfNow of $34 on the 6th of June. Long story short, I woke up late due to my own fault and didn't make it to the course until 9:10ish and they helped and completely made me feel like there was nothing wrong. Showed up, cart guys grabbed my golf bag from my car in the parking lot, went to hit a few at the practice tee as every tee time includes practice balls and I was on my way. This course's staff is perfect in every sense. Great start.

The course had just come off of the NAIA College golf championship, so I was expecting tough, tough conditions matched with pristine conditions. I in fact, got BOTH. The tee boxes were manicured and had rocks leading to the boxes (even color coded to the tees you were playing from) which were lush and level everywhere. A few par 3's had divots, but they were all filled with sand. The fairways were a little wet to start the day off, but dried up as the heat of the afternoon showed up as expected. The rough was around 2 to 3 inches all day, without bare spots to be found and the desert rocks were even raked if you strayed that far off path. The fairways, to be noted, had recently been punched but they never led to a bad lie. In fact, I counted about one fried lie all day in the fairways. The greens were the stars of the show, as they were as pristine as I've ever seen and they were rolling true and FAST. The fringe was a few feet wide on every green, the surrounding rough was just as lush as the fairways. Great, if not perfect conditions on every hole. In early June, this is amazing.

The course itself is designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and has a bit of a Pete Dye feel to it at times, with a few blind tee shots and tempting lines...if you only view the line that's given to you. Many times, I'd stand on the tee or from the fairway thinking there's no 'easy' or correct line, but it more times than not was over a bunker or hazard. Risky golf was often the best line, with rewards being given out very rarely with this postage stamp sized-green defended course. The greens were its main defense, with the fairways and many approach shots yielding a requirement of JUST a well struck shot. But once on the green, every putt, even 2 footers, needed to be read and hit accurately. 3 putts were a plenty.

This course is very fun, and if you're reading up to this point of my review you should probably do yourself a favor and head over to their website or GolfNow and book a now. Generous staff, great prices for their nearby competition (Longbow, Red Mountain Ranch, Gold Canyon, etc.) and the course strategy/condition is among the purest. Great round, even if it wasn't the best score, that I look forward to replaying here shortly. Pictures of the course to come, however for a real life view...GO PLAY!
Played this course on Sunday, June 2nd for $16 at 10:15 am with a booked threesome. This course does have a practice range, putting greens without a chipping green and some water/drinks prior to heading to the first tee. We checked in with ease as the cart guys offered us our carts as we pleased; when we approached the first tee we were notified a single had just booked last second with us and we were off.

The course was set up (from tips it plays 6,224, ladies at 4,774) fast and firm from tee to green. The tee boxes were trimmed well and allowed any peg in the ground and didn't have much visible wear (yet, it's early in the summer season). The fairways were green and bounced well with a limited amount of approach-shot divots. The rough and surrounding areas weren't anything to hide your golf ball from but they did impact the spin into the green, which was very important taking into account the greens. NOW, for the greens. First off, this is a retirement "resort" for snowbirds and the older crowd with cheap prices, however these greens were amazing. Fast (at least an 11 on the stimp) and firm, no wedge I hit made an indentation on approach no matter how high I hit them. Every putt was true and tough, the slope on some of the pin placements maaaayyy have been illegal but playing on these greens made for a fun day.

I've written a review each of the past two years for this course, unfortunately no other greenskeeper member has even with it being a value play. The price, the time it takes to play 18 on a Sunday with a foursome playing from 3 different tees (under 4 hours) and the ease of which an enjoyable round appears is outstanding. I've played my handful of Nationally recognized courses in Arizona and other states (notably South Carolina, the mecca of great courses) however I find myself continually smiling as I leave from this course due to its staff, quality of shape and price. Play this course, shoot low and enjoy a day in east-ish Mesa.
As a follow up to my previous review for Ocotillo we returned to play, the exact same threesome, to play this course on September 2nd, 2018 around 11 o'clock for $30. We didn't return in the time allowed for the previously mentioned "improved promise voucher" but the price was right and we decided to revisit.

This review is strictly going to harp on conditions as I've review APLENTY for strategy and service review. Now...the conditions in comparison to early July to middle of August were vastly VASTLY improved. Are they perfect? No. But the bare spots in the fairway almost requiring pick-clean-place in nearest grass is no more. The rough was still "short" but penal if in the thick-er than fairway stuff. The bunkers were also improved, machine raked fairway bunkers and green side bunkers soft for the occasional (rare) up and downs. The greens were the among the largest of pieces of this place improved. The bare spots disappeared, seemed extremely softer and more watered. The greens actually rolled true as opposed to a guessing game; on these crazy curvatures greens that is needed.

The course definitely improved quite a bit, but it's a bit away from flawless as Ocotillo pictures themselves as being. They've laid new sod, placed a lot of time and effort in the small things and continue to water even in the middle of the day. So I'm hopeful it'll only continue to be better.
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