Talking Stick Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona: Coore/Crenshaw hit it big with 36 great holes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Start with 36 holes of championship-caliber golf, add in a world-class resort and top it off with a luxurious casino and you've got your next vacation destination in Scottsdale: Talking Stick Resort.

The two Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw-designed golf courses at Talking Stick Golf Club -- the North and South -- offer players a wide variety of golf challenges. And we do mean wide -- as in the fairways here are wide enough to land a plane. That's the good news. The bad news (okay, it's not bad news, just tough) is the greens are bordered by enough bunkers to lead players to think they are in a desert. Well, technically you are, but you get the picture.

The tree-lined North Course at Talking Stick Golf Club (more than 9,000 trees line both courses, with 4,500 brought in to add to the test and the beauty of the South Course) is the play of the day on this trip and it's one that shouldn't be missed.

This 7,133-yard layout is immaculate and the design impressive. The service - impressive.

"The conditioning of the courses here is always priority no. 1," said Director of Golf Jeff Sorkness. "We also pride ourselves in our customer service. We really want to show players a great time when they come out to Talking Stick."

That service comes into play right away when the outside-services staff steps up and whisk your clubs away to a waiting cart as you prepare to check in. A trip into the spacious clubhouse is next, where the staff is friendly and informative (always expected, but not always received).

Then it's out the doors to check on the spacious practice facility (there's enough room here for everyone to spread out and relax as they get ready for the round.)

Talking Stick Golf Club: Not a house in sight

Ah yes, the round. Talking Stick Golf Club is nestled in the heart of Scottsdale, yet there's not a house in sight as you tour the 36 holes. "It's just a great, relaxing atmosphere," Sorkness added. "We get a lot of people who come here to play and afterwards make plans to come back to play again."

On the golf course, players will step up to the tees and eye acres of wide-open spaces, as fairways are generous -- very generous. In fact, if you don't hit most of these fairways, maybe golf isn't your game.

There's nothing tricky about Talking Stick Golf Club. What you see is what you get. What makes this golf course a challenge is your play into and around the greens. More than 100 bunkers come into play on the two courses combined and, especially around the greens, the steepness makes for tough up-and-down shots.

"The bunkers definitely will test players," Sorkness said. "And around the greens they can be very deep. It really makes players think a little more on their approach shots."

One of Talking Stick Golf Club's signature holes -- and one of Sorkness' favorites -- is the par-4 12th hole on the North. The 392-yard, par-4 hole (named Red Mountain Gambler) features a split fairway. This hole, unlike most others, doesn't have the huge fairway as a target. Rather, there are two targets. The left side provides a wide-open look at the green with the approach shot but is a tougher fairway to hit (think about landing your tee shot on a patch of grass about the size of huge green). The right side offers a much larger target (the good news) but the approach shot must carry a ravine and stop on a postage-stamp sized green (the bad news). This is a great risk/reward hole.

And, you'll probably have a gallery when you play this hole as the green cozies up against a barbed wire fenced area that is home to about two dozen horses that will peak over as you putt out. If you've got an apple with you, toss it over. They will appreciate it.

"Every hole here is a challenge," Sorkness said. "It's a great golf experience. People just love it. It's forgiving and playable ... and that's a great combination."

Talking Stick Golf Club: In the clubhouse

The Wildhorse Grille is a popular spot before and after golf rounds. With a wide variety of menu options and a stunning view of the seventh hole, this is a great place to unwind. The hospitality and service are exceptional.

Talking Stick Resort

Talking Stick Resort is complete with 497 rooms and suites, an impressive spa, plenty of fine dining options -- from casual to elegant -- and, of course, a casino with more than 800 slot machines as well as table games. Add all of that together and Talking Stick Resort has become one of the places to go -- whether it's for a romantic getaway for two or a corporate outing. Add in the 36 holes of championship golf and you've got the makings of a perfect outing.

Talking Stick Golf Club: The verdict

Calm and tranquil, Talking Stick Golf Club is relaxing, challenging and enjoyable. What else is there when you're talking about golf?

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 16-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas and has teed it up for magazine profiles with celebrities including comedian Bill Engvall, actor Jeffrey Donovan (USA's Burn Notice), ESPN personality Colin Cowherd, NASCAR's Kurt Busch, Collective Soul's Ed Roland, the Baltimore Ravens' Jonathan Ogden and many others.

Related Links

Remember when Tiger Woods enlisted nine fans from the raucous gallery to move a boulder on the 13th hole at the 1999 Phoenix Open? It won't happen that way for you at the TPC Scottsdale, but the Stadium Course still offers plenty for the everyday golfer. Visit and you'll find anything but a typical desert golf course, Mike Bailey writes.
3 Min Read
More from the author
2 Min Read
May 16, 2016
A round at Royal Links Golf Club in Las Vegas lets you take on replicas of 18 historic holes that have been used in the British Open rotation. From the clubhouse-turned-castle to the monuments paying homage to the game, you'll find yourself feeling a world away while only miles from the Strip.
2 Min Read
March 16, 2015
Golf and Las Vegas go hand-in-hand. Add in March Madness and you've got the makings of a great outing. Whether it's for just one weekend of the event or the entire two weeks, you'll have plenty of time to check out the golf courses and hoops excitement. Just make sure you start making those tee times early because, like the NCAA basketball tournament, you've got to be in the field to be part of the excitement.
2 Min Read
November 12, 2014
After a five-year hiatus, Reflection Bay Golf Club at Lake Las Vegas is back, and it's better than ever. Bill Bowman has more from Sin City.
3 Min Read
September 23, 2014
Variety, value and views. It's that simple when you're talking about the Palm Valley Course at Golf Summerlin. This Billy Casper/Greg Nash-designed layout is the original Golf Summerlin course, opening in 1989. It's also the longest of the three, and the design -- with a variety of challenges in the length of the holes -- makes tremendous use of the land. If you're looking for a solid round at affordable prices with nice Las Vegas views, you've come to the right place, Bill Bowman writes.
3 Min Read
June 16, 2014
Mesquite, Nevada boasts seven top-flight courses that offer enough variety and challenge that you can play a different one every day and not feel like you're playing the same hole day after day. With that in mind, here's Mesquite Golf 101: Your guide to teeing it up.
3 Min Read
June 13, 2014
The front nine at The Palms Golf Club near Mesquite, Nevada is a rolling, resort-style course with palm-lined fairways, numerous ponds and a plethora of bunkers to test golfers' accuracy. On the back nine, however, prepare for desert golf at its finest. The variety of holes, the challenges and the views make The Palms a course that will appeal to everyone in your group, Bill Bowman writes.
2 Min Read
September 6, 2023
Golf course logos come in a huge variety of styles, making hats, shirts and other accessories from pro shops very collectible. What are your favorite logos?
4 Min Read
September 14, 2023
Here's a look at the history of golf handicaps, how they are calculated, and where you can get one.
12 Min Read
August 30, 2023
Get to know every hole at the Home of Golf, the mother of golf courses around the world.
2 Min Read
September 6, 2023
This terrific twosome in Nisswa, Minnesota, is one of the anchors of golf in Brainerd, one of the Midwest's best golf destinations.
Now Reading
Talking Stick Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona: Coore/Crenshaw hit it big with 36 great holes