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Played last Tuesday 8/25, goin off in the morning. As perhaps the most "non-deserty" golf course in the SE Valley, Ocotillo holds a softspot for me: no cacti, no desert scrub, no acres of dirt, just grass, waterfalls and water. Lots of water. Something like 3/4 of all holes have water either to the left, to the right, or meandering across the various fairways. A good rule of thumb when playing here is "If you can't see the landing area, then assume there's water down there. "

I played the Gold & Blue tracks, as the White track was closed for maintenance. Tee boxes and fairways in their usual good shape, as were the bunkers I was in. The greens, however, were less than ideal. I cannot recall ever playing on greens this slow, and on a course like Ocotillo, it should never happen. When I played my final hole, the 9th on Blue, I had about a 45 ft putt for birdie. Having experienced the previous 17 holes, I actually brought my putter back well past my ankles and made solid contact. Under normal conditions, that putt should have rolled about 20 ft off the green; instead, it ended up about 18" from the cup and left an easy tap in par. I also noticed the grounds crews loaded up their Gators with rolls of sod, which are being put in around many of the greens, particularly on the Gold 9.

Still a good track, with great amenities and excellent customer service, but those greens right now will mess up your game.

This club is located 45 minutes south of Gilbert (which is in the SE part of Phoenix), but you know what? It's worth the drive. In the middle of a scorching summer, PB still provided their golfers with near perfect conditions. Tee boxes were green and lush, never had a bad lie on the fairways all day (and even a sweeper like myself still managed to create divots on almost every shot), bunkers had perfectly conditioned sand that allowed for the shot of your choice, and the greens, while still coming off being punched a few weeks ago were still fast and true and held every shot into them. Another week and they'll be perfect.

The course plays long (7282 from the Gold tips, 6820 from the Blacks and the third set, The Whites, where I played from, measured out at 6552 yards). There are strategically placed fairways bunkers that can trip you up, but the fairways are typically wide enough to avoid them. The Par 4s seemed to alternate from a long one to a short one, so you don't feel like you're getting beat up hole after hole. The signature hole of this Gary Panks' designed course must be the 17th, a short Par 3 to a true island green very reminiscent of TPC Sawgrass. That's also the only hole where water could come into play.

Free driving range came with the round, and the service was excellent. Friendly staff in the clubhouse, the snack bar and the young lady who cleaned my clubs afterwards. Overall, a very playable course with terrific conditions and a staff that only enhances your experience. I paid $18, was more than worth that price. Will definitely make the drive down here again.

Living in Gilbert, I don't often drive out to the west side to play golf, but when I saw a $14 deal on GolfNow, I packed up my clubs and drove the 66 miles to Verrado. So glad I did.

As you would expect from a high end club, customer service was excellent, with someone taking my clubs and setting up my cart to the pro shop staff checking me in. Facilities include a huge grass driving range with all you hit balls available, a large chipping area and green, practice bunker and separate putting greens. All were in great shape. Carts are electric, and come stocked with ice chest, ball/club washer, GPS and even a couple of towels, along with 10 plastic complimentary tees.

Verrado is designed by Tom Lehman & John Fought, and has six different tee box options/combos to choose from, ranging from the Black tips (7258 yards) to Silver (6833) to White (6228). There are two other shorter tee boxes for seniors/ladies. They also have a Black/Silver combo (7036) and a Silver/White combo (6561), so everyone should be able to find a distance with which they are comfortable. I played from the Silvers (probably biting off more than I chew, but I wanted to truly experience the course).

As for the course itself, what a treat. Every hole is challenging, whether it be elevation changes, narrowed fairways leading into crevices and/or desert, fairways bunkers placed right in your landing area, or greens with false fronts. Playing from Silver meant I had six Par 4s measuring over 400 yards, including the 4th which measured at 454 yards, the 8th at 457 yards, the 16th at 449 yards and the finishing 18th measuring out at 457 yards. My drives are typically in the 225-230 yard range, so I definitely had my hands full, but, except for one hole, I never felt I had no chance at a par.

One of the trickiest hole might be one of the shortest: The Par 4 291 yard 13th. Uphill. A lot. And, if you're a big hitter who thinks he can reach it, the greens complex for this hole is the nastiest on the course. Steep false front which will send mis-hit chips back down to your feet a la Retief Goosen at the US Open a few years ago. The rest of the green has the most extreme breaks of any other green on this course, so play it carefully. This is followed by a Par 3 that drops as steeply as the previous hole! There's also the 8th hole, with a huge stone outcropping past the desert carry area that will play with your head.

As for course conditions, tee boxes were in good shape, fairways were outstanding and the rough could be thick and penal at times. I was in four bunkers (three fairway) and always had a fair chance to escape. Greens had been punched about 3 weeks prior, many were rolling true but there were still quite a few bumps in our putts. Another week or so and they should be perfect.

This is definitely a course you want to play if you can make out to the southwest corner of Phoenix. I will absolutely return at some point in the future.

Here's a pro tip for this course you would be wise to remember: Ladies' Club is held on Mondays here and the Mens' Club is on Tuesdays. If you want to play on either of those days, do yourself a favor and schedule an afternoon tee time to avoid the human glaciers playing out here.

Now that that is out of the way, let's talk about the course. Scottsdale Silverado is not overly long (6313 from the tips, 5734 from the Whites), but it is a very enjoyable layout. The back nine is a bit more spread out and scenic (and ends with its signature Par 3 18th hole over water), but the front nine has its challenges as well, particularly the #6 and #8 holes, which are longish Par 3s with major trouble to the right on each of the holes.

The course was as green as I've ever seen it, and that's saying something. Probably has a lot to do with the unseasonable rain we've experienced this month. Regardless, there are few bare patches to be found anywhere on the course. Tee boxes in good shape, though some are getting worn and a couple beginning to crown slightly, though nothing that impacted my swings or its results. Major plaudits to the bunkers: I was in 5 today, and each one had fluffy sand allowing me to concentrate on my swing and not worrying about my blade bouncing off the surface and sending a ball screaming across the green. Allowed me to get up and down 3 times (including a rare spinner at 18 that checked up 2 feet from the hole).

Probably the weakest part of the course were the greens. While they were in good shape and held shots into them, the members here clearly do not fix their ball marks, and many putts by both me and my playing partners had more bounce than should be expected.

Finally, a quick shout out for the customer service today. As the Mens Club was in full force when I arrived, I had to park in an overflow parking lot a long way away from the tee shop. One of the starter crew saw me and sped over in a cart so that I did not have to carry my clubs all the way back to clubhouse. Cart girl came by 4 times today (twice each side) and the clubhouse guy was also helpful. A very fun afternoon of golf.

Played Thursday 5/28, 11:30am tee time, but went off at 11am.

Summer hits, and the course becomes near deserted as the day wears on. Teamed up with another single, just another twosome on the course ahead of us, who let us through on #4 and we did not see another group until we made it to #14.

Course is in great shape. Just a long green carpet of fairways awaits you on nearly every hole. Rough can be patchy, especially if you mis-hit an iron on a Par 3, but great lies all day long in the fairway. Tee boxes in good shape, though some wear on the #12 island green tee box. Greens were holding shots into them all day, soft enough to leave ball marks that needed repairing but still quite fast. My playing partner, who clearly played here a lot, only needed 23 putts to complete his round, which attests to the general smoothness and readability of the greens.

Bunkers were the only questionable part of the course. While some had clearly been restored and had plenty of white sand in them, many others were very hard packed and rocky, and it was like hitting off of hard pan. Hopefully, Lone Tree will finish restoring all the bunkers in the near future.

No cart girls present during the week, so bring your own drinks. Driving range, putting green and chipping green all available for warm-up. Price on GolfNow was only $15; you cannot beat the quality of the course for that rate. PoP clocked in at under 3 hours.

I usually enjoy playing The Duke. Customer service is always a priority here, and the huge driving range, putting and chipping practice areas and the bunker practice area are the best in the SE Valley.

I felt the course was already drying out, and it's never been mistaken for lush. Wide fairways on many holes give you ample opportunity to miss and still be in play, though fairway bunkers do frequently come into play. Not much in the way of rough, and balls are quite capable of ending up in the multitude of desert areas surrounding most holes.

Greens were very hard and very fast, but perhaps more disconcertingly, starting to show the same issues around their edges that plagued The Raven for a couple years. One hopes the greenskeepers get it under control sooner rather than later. Speaking of which, the grounds crew was really out in force, and it seemed as though we were surrounded by a tractor, mower, sprayer and/or tiller on virtually every hole. Critical tip: remember to bring plenty of bug spray along with your SPF40, as the mosquitoes are out in force and very hungry.

Overall, a good, not great experience today.


Played Memorial Day, morning tee time.

The Links is a short course (5,787 from the tips, 5,172 from the Whites, where most here play) with no bunkers, water in play on about half the holes and generally tight fairways. The course is lined with hundreds of mature trees and many other short bushes which can trap your ball if you go offline. Greens were simply outstanding, rolling fast and true all day and were probably the course's best feature. Playing from the Blues (Back tees), there are at least 2-3 holes on the front nine where trees are in a direct path between the tee box and the green. Fairways were green and in good shape, though a few overwatered patches appeared sporadically. I felt the front nine was definitely more challenging than the back, as it featured several holes with blind first or second shots.

As for the facilties and service, the clubhouse guy was friendly and got me out early, and the cart lady came by multiple times on both the front and back nines. There is no driving range here; it was removed several years ago for reasons unknown. A nice little clubhouse also features inexpensive breakfast and lunch items. Overall, the Links is a pleasant if not overly challenging course.

Played Trilogy for the first time this season. Exemplary customer service as always. Course was green and in great shape. Tee boxes flat and well cared for, greens hard, firm,and fast with little ability to create ballmark in them. Most greens complexes are very large, but being on the wrong level can lead to 3 putts or even putting off the green. Bunkers appeared to be in good shape, though some in the fairway were overwatered and had mud in them. Only disappointing feature would be the driving range, which was fairly well chewed up already and featured very tight quarters between hitting bays. A shotgun starting tournament made pace of play quite slow for a near noon start, clocking in at 4 hrs and 15 minutes.

Played early Tuesday morning off a GN tee time. Upon arrival, no more than 10 cars in parking lot, looks like MB is starting its summer season.

I was most looking forward to seeing if the renovation of the bunkers (long this course's worst feature) was completed. Happy to say that it has been completed, and they've done a terrific job of making their biggest blight into a positive course feature, even on the large fairway bunkers. I was in only one (fronting the uphill 9th green) and came out of it quite easily, leading to an easy up and down.

As for the rest of the course, tee boxes were green if a little overgrown in areas. Fairways were in excellent shape, rough was cut slightly higher as is the norm here. Greens on the front nine were fast and true, but, sadly, on the back nine, the greens had been punched (with no maintenance notice on GN or from the pro shop). Definitely caused a few putts to look more like Pachinko balls than golf balls.

Driving range is in great shape, no cart girl to be found (who could blame her, with only 15 people on the course, tops). PoP was around 2.25 hours.

Played 5/12 @ 10AM, off of a GolfNow special as a single.

Ken McDonald is a busy local muni, its layout is a generally flat parkland style course with some mounding and a few gulleys to catch stray balls. Side-by-side holes are separated by a large number of mature trees.

The most notable feature of KM, in my opinion, are its bunkers. There are more than you'd expect from a typical muni and many of them are very, very large. At least six are also supported by dastardly railroad ties, which can create unplayable lies (or forcing you to pull a Rocco Constantino at the British Open to get your ball onto the green) . While there is a decent amount of sand in most bunkers, much of it is packed quite firmly and, because the bunkers do not have lips, you can actually putt out them quite successfully (I did from the two bunkers I was in and got up and down from both, with one of my putts hitting the stick and rolling 18" away).

Though mostly flat, the fairways do often cant to one side or the other, forcing balls to run just off into the sporadic rough. This can be especially dangerous on the Par 4 9th hole, where a severe left to right tilt can send balls to a watery lake grave. Despite there being water around 6-7 holes (not including the canal), the 9th and the Par 5 15th hole are the only holes where you really have to worry about these hazards, unless you're really, really not very good.

The setup at KM lends itself to slow play, particularly before the turn at the short Par 4 7th, followed by the Par 3 8th and then a cartpath only Par 4 9th. You'll often find 3-4 groups stacked up waiting to play. Marshals here do little speed pace of play, and simply drive around looking grumpy and unfriendly. The groups surrounding my twosome had no concept of ready golf, and the college kids behind us actually hit into our cart once on the Par 3 8th hole and whizzed one by my head on the Par 4 17th, with nary a "Fore" or an apology offered.

Don't expect better service in the clubhouse either. The kid who checked me out didn't give me a cart key and when I went back inside to get one he told me to wait until the threesome he'd paired me with arrived. A short time later, he called my name along with another single who was given a cart but had no idea I was paired with him, so he drove off to the first tee with me in chase.

The course itself is in solid shape: tee boxes green and flat, fairways well cared for (though there were a number of odd bounces) and greens in good shape and running faster than before.

Played Wed 5/6, 10:30 tee time but was allowed off early at just after 10am.

Late Spring conditions: Tee boxes in good condition, mostly green and level, though some tee locations were at the end of the tee box so some crowning did occur. Fairways and rough have recently been punched, so odd bounces and rolling next to those little dirt clods was the norm. I'd recommend waiting 1-2 weeks before playing here for better conditions. Greens were fast firm, in very good shape and a bot quicker than the norm. Bunkers were in fair to poor shape; some had enough sand in them for a solid recovery shot while the majority I looked at seemed a bit thin and rocky.

PoP is picking up here: completed the round in 2.5 hours, with multiple groups allowing me to play through almost immediately. Reminder: there is no driving range here, so warm up before you get to Painted Mountain. Also, bring your own coolers and ice; the gas-powered carts here do not come stocked with either, and while the cart lady is always around, you'll want to have ice available to keep you cool in the AZ summer months.

Played Viewpoint today @ 11:15. Viewpoint is one fo those courses that is just inundated with out-of-town Snowbirds in the winter, but once the heat kicks in, the course can be near empty, as it was today.

Conditions for late April were a bit disappointing. Much more dry throughout the course than usual, particularly in the rough. There were a few holes here where the rough was so deep you could lose your ball even a yard off the fairway, but that is no longer the case. Fairways themselves had some dry areas, though the closer to the greens you got, the greener the fairways became. Tee boxes were in good shape, though some of the Par 3s showed wear and need to be moved. Greens were receptive and moderately paced, nothing crazy here.

If you play during the week, don't expect cart service during the summer (6 month) period). Bring your own drinks or your own ice chest, because the only water station is located at the bathroom by the 8th hole going out (which is also used for the 12th hole coming back).

In the summer, Viewpoint is a nice, inexpensive, no-frills course that won't beat you up (5,660 yards from the regular tees, 6,324 from the Championship tees). I enjoy the short par 4s, of which there are many, as it gives me a chance to really work my 7I-PW game, and, if there's no one behind me, practicing a couple shots in to the hole.

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