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I played Crooked Tree early this morning for the first time and really enjoyed it. Good routing for walking, for which I paid $46. All the tees are close to the preceding greens, the only "long" walk is maybe 200 yards from #9 green to #10 tee. The yardage from the middle tees set up well for my game. The layout has a "core" routing, and is located in the middle of a county park with no houses surrounding the course.

Greens were in excellent condition, speed "average", about what you would expect at a "value" course. They did a good overseed job this year on the fairway and especially on the green surrounds. 

The main negative would be the bunkers. They had sand in them, were fine to hit out of, but were all full of a ridiculous amount of stones, most the size of coins. Probably the worst I've ever seen anywhere in that regard. It was like the sand wasn't run through any kind of "sifter" before it was installed. A very minor secondary negative would be that a few of the tees were severely unlevel.

Finished in 3:45 playing with 3 nice randoms with not much waiting. I booked about a week in advance and had no trouble getting a tee time around my preferred time.

I'd definitely play it again.
9 Likes.
I played Painted Mountain early in the morning yesterday for the first time. This is a shorter course through a housing development. I played the "tips", 6021 yards, par 70, 66.3/110. The course is easy to walk, though there are some transitions across low-traffic roads in the development. Take the walker shortcut through the cul-de-sac between #8 green and #9 tee.

Fairways had decent winter rye coverage for a value course and played firm. Rough is typical dormant bermuda/hardpan with some random tufts of winter rye that snuck in. Tees had decent grass coverage but a few were in sore need of leveling. Greens looked good but were very slow; probably the slowest I've played this winter in Phoenix, though this may be to protect them with the 90s heatwave over the next few days. I was only in two greenside bunkers but both had good sand consistency. I also felt like the back nine was in much better condition all around compared to the front.

Finished in a foursome in about 3:25 with only brief waiting on the folks in front of us and nobody behind us, though when we were finishing it looked like it was getting very busy/packed. The only staff member I encountered was the starter, who was very helpful and even got us out early as everyone in our group was ready to go before whomever was supposed to be in front of us.
9 Likes.
Played on a cold Sunday morning with a friendly resident of the community and flew around in less than 3 hours.

Everything was in excellent condition. Fairways lush, bunker sand great, typical dormant bermuda rough but not down to hardpan at this point in the year like you see on other courses. Didn't really run into any heavily watered/soggy spots except maybe one in a greenside depression that gets runoff. Greens were very smooth and healthy, you would have had to try hard to find a ball mark or any blemishes. Speed was typical for the Sun City West courses.

The restaurant in the clubhouse (Crooked Putter) was open for breakfast/lunch but I didn't partake.

Since the last time I played here, they have added a "white/gold" combo tee at 6077 yards, 69.0/120, which I tried this time and really enjoyed, especially in the colder temperatures. It isn't on the paper scorecards yet but they have an image of it posted at the clubhouse.

Great value as always for $55 to walk on a weekend morning.
6 Likes.
Played early on a weekend morning. Greens were in better condition than my last visit in December, pretty firm and quick by Sun City standards with most of the previously-bare spots recovered. Fairways are probably in a bit worse condition now, now that the bermuda is completely dormant and you can really see how patchy/thin of an overseeding job they did. Fairways are at least 1/3 dormant bermuda. The grass just seemed "grabby" and the ball wasn't rolling out well, even though conditions generally weren't wet. Bunkers had good sand and appear to have all been raked recently by the staff. I played very early and flew around in less than 3.5 hours. Good value for $49 at prime time during peak season. Very easy course to walk. Friendly staff. I think it plays more difficult than the fairly low slope/rating due to the large trees tightly lining most holes and the fairly small greens that generally slope up from front to back.
7 Likes.
Played Cerbat Cliffs for the first time early on Friday afternoon. I got out ahead of a bunch of walk-ons that showed up right after me, played through a twosome on the front, didn’t really wait again until the last 3 holes when I caught the tail end of the morning rush. Finished in 2:50. $40 with cart. This is a municipal-owned course that exceeded my expectations.

Bent grass greens were in beautiful condition. Smooth, fast, receptive to approach shots. Fairways and rough both great. Tee box grass a bit thin/chewed up in spots. Bunker sand was average. The routing isn’t great for walking but it’s doable if you are a diehard; it is also slightly confusing if you don’t consult the map on the scorecard and pay attention to signs.

I think many people only know this course as “that one you see off the highway passing through Kingman” but it is definitely worth a stop as conditions are great for the money and it has enough really interesting holes, particularly the ones in the hillside/rocky areas, to offset the dull ones.
8 Likes.
Played Kenny Mac early on Saturday 10/10, walked with three randoms. POP 4:00, could have been quicker but we had a beginner in our group, then caught the tail end of the early AM 9 holers that went off the back on #15. Paid $33 to walk, a great deal.

Course was in real nice condition overall, especially for the price. Greens were quick, somewhat firm, no bare spots, minimal unfixed ballmarks. Fairways were a little soggy being early AM, but had good grass coverage, bunker sand was good quality/quantity but a bit of a mess due to no rakes for COVID-19.

#9 fairway (par-4 around a pond) is cartpath only, it has been this way every time I've played here, there is a large curb on the path and a sign saying "don't jump the curb, if we catch you, you'll be asked to leave". I'm guessing someone rolled a cart into the pond on the right side at some point, hence the CPO on this hole.

Check-in line was long and only staffed by one person in the pro shop. No starter by the tee, the lone pro shop attendant calls you over the PA system. Sign stated they are no longer allowing solo-rider carts for COVID-19.

Easy course to walk, despite annoying transitions from 9 green to 10 tee, then 16 green to 17 tee, which will cause the riders to have to wait for the walkers to catch up.

The course closes for overseeding on 10/19. It is one of courses that is the latest to close for overseeding in the Phoenix area.
6 Likes.
I play Palmbrook often, most recently early morning on Wednesday 6/29. It's not the most exciting or interesting course, but it offers good conditions and excellent value. Palmbrook was one of the former three private clubs in Sun City, along with Union Hills and Sun City CC, but went public at some point in the last 10 years or so. It was originally intended for a senior clientele, but has been lengthened over the years, and it looks like they are building some new teeboxes to stretch the course to 7,000+ yards. You could pay more and get not as good conditions elsewhere in the NW valley area. I played the Silver tees, 68.9/115, 6300 yards. Regardless of tee choice, it is hard to lose a ball on this course. There is a pond on the par 3 #11, and a creek running through the middle of the back nine between fairways, but that's about it.

Today I paid about $31 with tax including cart and complimentary range balls. This course is very easy to walk, and they allow it (bring your own push cart), but I only do it during the cooler winter months. For COVID, Palmbrook is still allowing single-rider carts for anyone who wants one at no extra cost. No issues with bringing a personal cooler as long as there isn't booze in it.

The course is in great condition for summer in Phoenix; the only fault possibly being a few of the tee boxes which have some thin/bare spots. Greens were on the slower side given the recent heat but had almost no blemishes and had a very smooth roll. I think they are probably the best conditioned greens of the Sun City area courses right now. Bunkers sand was good. Driving range tee was in perfect condition.

Pace of play early in the morning has always been great here. Today we were the second group off, and played as a threesome in about 3 hours.
10 Likes.
Played a weekday mid-afternoon round as a twosome for $29+tax each. Finished in less than 3 hours with only some very brief waiting on two tees. Mostly singles and twosomes out on the course.

Certain fairways look like they had some trouble in the transition from winter to summer grass, quite a few bare spots on some holes. The greens visually didn't look great up close, seemed like a mix of grass types on several, but actually putted smoothly. Sand was of good quantity and quality but lots of bad lies due to lack of rakes currently. The course is playing just the right level of fast and firm without being ridiculous, that was the best part. Greens held short iron shots well, approaches were firm and you could run the ball up to the hole. Very enjoyable round. Sometimes a course can look a little haggard visually, but actually have great playing conditions like I experienced here.
8 Likes.
Played TPC Scottsdale Champions early Sunday morning paired with a threesome as one of the first few groups out. POP was perfect at 3:30. I've played here 3 times in the past 2 weeks.

The course is in truly excellent condition all around. The greens are probably the best I've played in the PHX area recently. Firm, yet receptive to short iron shots, no bare spots, smooth, on the fast side of average for an upscale public course. Fairways were very lush due to the heavy overnight watering this course is given, there were many wet spots due to my early tee time but a person playing later in the day would probably not run into this. Bunker sand is perfect as usual.

They are currently allowing solo rider carts. Pool noodles sitting about 1" below the edge of the cups. They are starting to put rakes back on the course. The only minor annoyance is that they have no drinking water on the course and since last week they put the coolers back on the carts and no longer let you bring your own cooler. You can put your own stuff in the cart cooler, but it only hold about 2-3 bottles of water. So, I had to stuff 3 extra water bottles in my bag and put my cooler back in the car. Would have been easier if I could have just shown them I didn't have booze in it or whatever and kept it with me.

Free range balls as usual and the range tee turf was in perfect condition.
11 Likes.
I played Ambiente on a Saturday with a tee time around 11am. Played with three nice random guys as a foursome and finished in 4 hours. Tee time intervals were 10 minutes, and we only waited maybe only once or twice.

Greens were in absolutely beautiful condition. Extremely smooth. Just the right amount of firmness. They were the highlight of the conditions. Speed was on the quick side but not unreasonable. The fairways are holding up well in the heat. No notable burnt out spots. Tees were great except for the "tan" tee box on #18 which was oddly overgrown like they forgot to mow it.

The sand in the bunkers is a coarse/gritty type that I actually like. It was apparent that the bunkers were probably all raked by the crew in the morning and there were few footprints.

The only negative on the conditioning, and this is an extremely minor negative if I have to fault the course for something, was that many of the green collars were almost completely burnt out. Fine if you are in a position to putt off them, but otherwise hard to hit a wedge off burnt toast.

COVID-19 procedures included a PVC pipe inside the cups for the ball to rest on, no rakes or divot fill bottles, and single rider carts for anyone who wanted one. I wasn't crazy about the cart guys were still touching peoples' bags/clubs without asking both before and after the round, though.

I love the layout of this course and always play it during the warmer months when I can find a good deal as it is cost prohibitive during winter.
9 Likes.
Walked a quick round at Deer Valley early on a Sunday morning for $50, paired with a friendly SCW resident.

The Phoenix area received a tremendous amount of rain the day before, with much flooding on certain streets. Deer Valley drained pretty well, but some of the ponds were enlarged and the water had submerged some of the cartpaths. As a result, Deer Valley had a cartpath only rule for the day, but I walked so it did not affect me. Still I was getting good roll in the fairways, green approaches were a little soft, but the greens maintained their firmness.

The greens were a little slow due to the rain but were immaculate. Same for the greenside aprons. Rough was typical dormant Bermuda. Fairways were in great shape as were the bunkers.

Deer Valley is not the most difficult of the SCW courses - it's probably the easiest of the 4 regulation courses - but it is the one I enjoy playing the most. I think it is the most fair in that pretty much any time you miss a green on an approach shot, you always have a reasonable chance to get up and down. Over on Trail Ridge and Grandview, some of the green shapes/sizes make this extremely difficult or impossible depending on hole location. Some long hitters take issue with the relatively short length of this course from the tips (6547). I played white (6080) and as a short hitting better than average player, I find the course layout sets up in an enjoyable way for my game.

Potential customers should recognize that this course is part of a middle class retirement community, and therefore they run a pretty efficient/no frills operation to presumably keep costs down. The rental carts tend to be older (the residents mostly have their own anyway), there are no "bag boys" or beverage carts, etc. The benefit of this is excellent course conditions pretty much all year long, and very fair pricing.

Looks like those of us who signed up for the GK event at this course in a few weeks will find some great conditions.
11 Likes.
I played Trail Ridge in Sun City West early on a Sunday morning. In my opinion it is the most difficult of the 4 regulation-length SCW courses for the average player.

The conditions were excellent all around, as they usually are on the SCW courses. Greens were blemish-free, smooth, rolled at a good pace, firm but not ridiculous. Fairways had no imperfections that I saw. Typical dormant Bermuda rough, and the bunkers were in good condition. I wish I could be more descriptive but there was really nothing possible to complain about!

Paired with a friendly resident of the community, we finished in well under 3 hours with me walking and him riding. This is an easy course to walk, and the rate to walk for a non-SCW resident was $50 vs. $62 riding. It's a great value.
8 Likes.
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