The articles on this website, which are the copyright of the Yorkshire Post and Chris Stratford, may NOT be reproduced in part or whole without permission. All rights reserved.
Central Park, New York
The Rocky Mountaineer
Johanna Beach, Australia
Hluhluwe Reserve, KwaZulu Natal
Tecina GC, on La Gomera island
Portuguese cakes, bought by weight
Kingsbarns’ entrance and clubhouse
Killeen Castle, just outside Dublin
Slieve Donard hotel, N Ireland
Nefyn GC, North Wales
Return to Home Page
GOLFERS have notoriously brittle levels of concentration as they prepare to play a shot. It is said that Ryder Cup star Colin Montgomerie, for instance, can be put off by a butterfly landing too heavily in an adjacent field.
So was my equilibrium threatened when, preparing to chip onto a green at the Desert course at the fabulous Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, I observed a notice saying, "Caution, possibility of rattlesnakes in desert areas"?
Not in the slightest; partly because I had been forewarned that it is a very, very remote possibility, and partly because it would not surprise me if Arizona's acute sense of hospitality extended to their wildlife. It was easy to imagine, as I searched for my ball, the rattlesnake enquiring solicitously: "Were you playing a Nike 4?"?
Club selection acquires a new meaning in Greater Phoenix, which boasts more than 200 courses, but my stay in the area was only short. So I was restricted to playing at The Phoenician – which has three nine-
But together they afforded me a taste of playing the sport in an environment of breathtaking beauty, never more so than when treated to the Arizona sunset which produced a stunning backdrop of silhouetted mountains, cacti and – in one truly memorable moment – a circling eagle.
What strikes the visiting player immediately is the lushness of the turf, a sharp contrast to the arid scrubland which both abuts and weaves through the Devil's Claw course at Wild Horse Pass.
Here it is all too easy to be distracted by a combination of the scenery, wildlife and evocatively-
It's easy to see where such a relaxed attitude springs from, here on this tranquil resort built two years ago on the Gila River Indian Reservation, home to the Pima and Maricopa Indians. Wild Horse Pass is not only a resort, but also a celebration of the land owners' history, heritage and culture, containing as it does artwork and artefacts in the traditional designs of the tribes.
It is difficult to imagine a more serene or awe-
There are plenty of other options here for those who find they can resist the lure of the golf courses, including a casino, tennis, the Aji Spa, where you might pamper yourself with a massage, body wrap or facial, four pools including an 111ft waterslide, and riding at the Koli Equestrian Center where glimpses can be caught of wild horses which roam around the resort's perimeter.
Dining options include the Kai restaurant where, as part of Wild Horse's philosophy, local produce is central to its authentic Native American cuisine. Should you visit and the pecan-
Wild horses would have been needed to drag me away from here, had it not been that duty called. And so we moved from Phoenix to nearby Scottsdale and The Phoenician, a 250-
But it will not surprise you to learn that it was The Phoenician's golf courses which demanded my immediate attention on arrival.
The Oasis hugs the gardens of an adjoining residential area with palm trees lining every fairway and water hazards providing an extra challenge on all but two holes. Particularly interesting and testing is the 371-
The Desert course, meanwhile, has coiled itself around Camelback Mountain. Its holes snake back and forth in its foothills before eventually climbing to present a short (101-
As you would expect of a resort this size, there are many dining options – nine in all – including Mary Elaine's, a Five Diamond award-
My favourite, not just for its location overlooking the golf courses, was Windows on the Green, which serves innovative Southwestern grill cuisine, where I opted again for the (Colorado) rack of lamb, served with sweet potato gratin, Southwestern ratatouille and sweet creole mustard sauce. Small wonder I could even swing a club the next day.
In that heat, even the friendliest rattlesnake wouldn't leave the shade of its rock to help you look for lost golf balls.
Published: January 29, 2005
top of page
For Phoenix & Scottsdale picture gallery click here