TPC Scottsdale Stadium Golf Course

ADDRESS: 17020 N. Hayden Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85255
TYPE: Resort
HOLES: 18
PHONE: 480-585-4334
WEBSITE: www.tpc.com/scottsdale

Arizona Golf Authority AZGA Golf Course Buzz: Of the 29 courses that make up the PGA Tour’s TPC chain, the TPC Scottsdale is generally ranked just behind the signature TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, FL, home of the Players Championship. But the Stadium does something that Sawgrass will never do: provide seating and unobstructed views of the action for over 100,000 fans per day on its ubiquitous mounds which provide a natural amphitheater on almost every hole.

15th hole at TPC Scottsdale Stadium Golf Course

#15 Hole at TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course

Playing golf at the site of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, one of the PGA Tour’s longest-running events, has plenty of appeal, but even without that distinction, the Stadium Course stands as one of the best daily-fee facilities in Arizona.

The front nine is a stern test and the back nine is an ever thrilling ride home, especially the closing stretch at 15, 16, 17 and 18; it’s considered one of the great risk-reward tour finishes in the professional game; more on that later.

The Stadium Course opened for play in 1986 and was built at the urging of then-tour commissioner Deane Beman, who wanted an “arena” layout that could host the massive half-million a week Phoenix Open galleries the tournament attracts; it’s the best attended golf tournament in the world.

Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish teamed up to create the design and delivered a championship layout beyond everyone’s expectation. They began with a flat piece of land adjacent to the Central Arizona Project Irrigation Canal and moved several million cubic yards of earth to create the undulations that define the course and mounding where the 100,000 fans per day cheer on the best players in the world.

Although the course resides in the Arizona Sonoran Desert, the Stadium Course features a traditional design with the nearby McDowell Mountains as a backdrop. The generous fairways are a tee ball bombers dream and the pros card some of the lowest scores of the tour season rota during their competitive week here; but it’s no pushover for the weekend warrior.

The Stadium plays to even par 71, but is rated at 74.6 with a slope of 138 at the 7,216-yard professional tees. Three additional tee boxes are available at 6,525, 6,049 and 5,455.

Weiskopf, a local resident, has returned to “tweak” his setup several times and says, “It’s playing now just like it was meant to play in the beginning”.

The front nine plays a few shots tougher than the back, for amateurs and pros alike. The 554-yard par-5 third offers an enticing, deep but narrow, green complex elevated above and beyond an arroyo that gobbles up any miss-hit second or third-shot approach. The par-4 fifth is 453 yards of O.B. right and lush desert left; the approach must carry a natural desert area fronting the green. The eight, a par-4 stretching 470 yards, is just a workout due in part to the fact that once you leave the tee box, the next level lie you find on this hole is at the bottom of the cup.

The Stadium’s greatest appeal though is the four hole finishing stretch where the Waste Management Phoenix Open is often decided on Super Bowl Sunday afternoon. It all starts at the 552-yard par-5 15th with water left and the island green. Any reasonable tee ball makes the large island seem reachable, a generous apron fronts the green and safety-net bunkers are positioned right and left. But the island target often proves elusive with a fairway metal or long iron.

That’s followed by the now-infamous par-3 16th, where tens of thousands of fans are collected together in stadium-style seating which completely encircles the 162-yarder. The player-fan interaction here is unique, not only in golf but in the history of professional sports. The atmosphere is electric, it’s exciting for fan and sportsman alike, and it’s always managed in the spirit of good, clean fun.

Weiskopf placed his trademark drivable par-4 of 332 yards in the 17th position at the Stadium Course. Water noses out beyond the leading edge of the green on the left and wraps around the entire backside. Tee balls placed short or right of the green require a tricky pitch from a very tight lie to one of several unique pin placements on an enormous green. With only one hole to go on tournament Sunday, it’s a professional gambler’s dream. The best? Andrew Magee’s hole out from the tee still stands as the only par-4 ace in PGA Tour history.

The par-4 438-yard 18th demands precise placement of the drive between water left and bunkers right. The green is modest in size and falls off to chipping areas both in front and on the left side; tricky chips. Two bunkers guard the right; they’re deep, avoid them. You approach this green from the south, Phoenix and the Salt River are behind you which is where the ball wants to go. Keep your approach shot between you and the hole, that’s under the hole; you can make it from there.

As you would expect, the practice facilities here are stellar and several local resident tour players hone their trade here. The 27,000 s.f. clubhouse is a showpiece and the TPC Grille prepares some of the finest steaks and seafood offered in Scottsdale. Libations on the patio at sunset are a great way to ease into the evening as well.

But mostly, people come out to play and appreciate where Phil Mickelson won twice, Mark Calcavecchia won three times and Tiger Woods hit the modern-day “shot heard ’round the world” at the 16th. Yeah, it really is fun to play where the pros play.

Be sure to read the Arizona Golf Authority AZGA Course Buzz for the Stadium’s sister course TPC Scottsdale Champions Course.

Arizona Golf Authority AZGA “Local Hang” for the TPC includes the Clubhouse TPC Grille and Four Peaks Grill and Tap, located just south of the course in the retail center on the southeast corner of Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard and Hayden Road.

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