Location: Scottsdale, Ariz.
Course architect: Jack Snyder
Renovation: Phil Smith 
Tee — Yardage | Rating / Slope:
Summit — 6,518 | 71.8 / 129
Junction — 6,003 | 69.6 / 124
Switchback — 5,350 | 68.2 / 119
Trailhead — 4,594 | 63.2 / 105
Summit — 6,518 | 78.0 / 138
Junction — 6,003 | 75.7 / 134
Switchback — 5,350 | 74.5 / 131
Trailhead — 4,594 | 68.0 / 122
Saturday morning green fee: $$$$$ [$250; in-season, January-April]
Caddie service: No
Walker friendly: No
Fairways: Bluegrass and rye, mix
Greens: Bentgrass and Poa combination
Starter: Since the mid-1980s, The Phoenician Resort has set the standard for luxury accommodations and service in the Phoenix area. The final piece of the resort’s massive 2017 renovation was to bring its 1980s-style golf course into the 21st century, which resulted in reducing the course to 18 holes from 27 and making it more welcoming for resort guests and competitive players alike. The renovation was led by highly accomplished Scottsdale-based golf course architect Phil Smith, who has partnered with Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf at various times during his distinguished career.
Smith replaced the mounding and undulations that characterized the old “target” course. In its place, Smith went with a new aesthetic, which is to “clear the land, grass it and make it look like an integral part of the landscape,” he said. The 10-month, $10 million process resulted in a complete renovation of the desert landscape. There are larger greens with more pin placements, fewer blind shots and reoriented hazards, which now challenge better players and allow 90s-and-above shooters to feel comfortable rather than overwhelmed.
Play because …: Those who played the course in its previous iteration will be interested to see how the removal of 45 acres of turf and the use of heavy equipment have helped to smooth out the routing and give the course a completely different look and feel. The 27-hole set up was a logistical challenge, especially for first-timers. Those who have never played the course will enjoy The Phoenician because it looks like a golf course that has been integrated into the land and offers stunning views of both the city and valley while being a pleasure to play.
Takeaway: The new Phoenician offers an enjoyable day on the course, perfect for travelers, families, and handicappers of all numbers. Holes Nos. 1-7 meander through a neighborhood of luxury homes, but beginning with No. 8 the mountain vistas and long views to neighboring communities are a joy. The course is one that builds momentum with each passing hole and the final three make a golfer want to return and play again soon.
THE RATINGS [1 to 10 scale; 10 being the highest]
Food | Beverage: 9.0
Pro shop: 9.0
Course difficulty: 7.0
Pace of play: 8.0
THE COURSE | Scorecard
Best par 3: No. 3 [169 | 149 | 105 | 124 yards]
The tee shot is to a perched and undulating green that’s surrounded by bunkers, offering plenty of drama early in the round. Honorable mention goes to No. 11, which features a dramatic downhill tee shot and has spectacular views of Papago Park mountains and downtown Phoenix.
Best par 4: No. 16 [377 | 343 | 303 | 252 yards]
A completely new hole thanks to the renovation, this hole has fabulous views of the aforementioned Papago mountains from the tee. The green was dropped 10 feet during construction to enhance playability and emphasize the awesome views. Holes Nos. 9, 12 and 13 also are great par 4s, which speaks to the overall consistency of the course.
Best par 5: No. 8 [495 | 470 | 398 | 339 yards]
This plays uphill and yet is a reachable two-shot par-5 hole. The bunkering on this hole is spectacular. The approach to the two-tiered green finds the pin partially blind from the right side of the fairway, while the left features a small run-up to the green. The second shot requires strategic thinking by golfers who actually think strategically on the course.
Rater: Barry Cronin