Phoenician Golf Resort – Arizona Golf Courses
You might come here expecting to play desert golf but what you discover, and delightfully so, is tropical desert golf. The Phoenician golf experience might make you wonder if you veered off course and landed in Hawaii. This world-class resort combines playability with aesthetic beauty that belies its Sonoran Desert locale, with lush tropical scenery and impressive water features. There are three nine-hole layouts – Canyon, Desert and Oasis – which are played in combinations, and you can hardly go wrong with any of them. Photo ops seem to be everywhere you look.
There also is some history to this venue that covers 250 acres skirting Camelback Mountain and once was the site of Valley Country Club, which was razed to make way for the resort. Well-known Arizona architect Arthur “Jack” Snyder designed the new 18 holes, which opened in 1978. Homer Flynt redesigned them in the mid-1980s and Ted Robinson designed the final nine, the Canyon Course, about 10 years later. He also redesigned several of Flynt’s original holes. That’s a lot of input from architects with different design styles and yet it works, and does so splendidly.
Best known for its dramatic elevation changes and awe-inspiring views, the Desert is the most requested course due to its unique layout. Oasis is aptly named with its tree-lined fairways, tranquil water features and traditional layout. Canyon, defined by lush, landscaped terrain, is located on the southern slope of the mountain with sweeping views of the Valley of the Sun and is considered by golf purists to be the strongest nine. None of the courses are particularly long, but take a bit of advice and don’t try to overpower them. Accuracy is the key. Even from the back tees, yardages are 6,258 for Oasis/Canyon; 6,068 for Desert/Canyon and 6,310 for Oasis/Desert. One more tip: Everything breaks away from Camelback Mountain more than you think it will. As for the signature hole, make that plural.
There are enough for a week’s worth of golf, but the pars 3s are particularly impressive. They include a back-to-back pair at Nos. 7 and 8 on Canyon that measure 201 and 132 yards and both play over water to bunkered, picturesque greens. Desert has three strong par 3s, topped by No. 8, which is 120 yards but plays more like 80 because there is an 80-foot elevation drop from tee to green. Many a golfer has managed to air mail this putting surface. The highlight of Oasis is the finishing hole, a dynamic dogleg par 4 at 379 yards to a green that is fronted by water and backed by a palm forest. Another rare treat you will find on Oasis are comfort stations with marble-lined bathrooms and ceiling fans. That’s right, on the golf course.
But that’s nothing compared to the palatial resort, which has been named one of the top golf resorts in America by the Robb Report, Golf Digest and others. Amenities include 474 guest rooms, 73 luxury suites and 107 casitas, 10 restaurants and lounges, numerous retail shops, tennis courts, a spectacular cactus garden and an impressive art collection. Even if you don’t stay here, a tour of the facilities is a great way to cap off your day.