TPC Scottsdale – Stadium Golf, The Rowdiest Hole and You
Certainly you have seen the famed Par 3 sixteenth hole at the TPC Stadium Course in Scottsdale, Arizona. Annually it hosts the PGA Tour’s Phoenix Open where the pros must negotiate the most daunting 160 yard arena in golf. But more on that later.
The TPC Scottsdale complex is made up of two courses, the tournament hosting Stadium Course and its not so little sister the Champions Course. The adjacent Fairmont Princess resort is one of the finest in all of Phoenix. Together they combine to form one of the best golf/spa resort destinations in the country.
My initial visit to The Stadium Course was over 20 years ago. It was the first time I had played a golf course that was host to a PGA Tour event. I returned this year to find the layout just as I remembered it. Carved from nothing, this open Links style layout has matured into a good test of golf for all levels of players.
Most holes offer generous fairways off the tee but trouble abounds should you miss the short grass. The putting surfaces have always been above average both in speed and condition. Like almost all Tom Weiskopf/Jay Morrish designs, you will find a great mix of holes and often a drivable Par 4 like the 332 yard 17th hole.
But the most famous hole is the Par 3 16th. At only 160 yards, distance is not the main concern here during tournament week. Tuning out the thousands of spectators sitting in grandstands that line nearly the entire hole is the major obstacle here. When you tee it up, the stands and the fans will be gone. Yet, imagine the throngs, silent for a split second while you swing then bursting into cries of “You’re the man” and “It’s in the hole” ala Tiger Woods ace during the 1997 event. Memorable!
While the Stadium Course gets all the accolades, The Champions Course is no slouch. The holes here are much narrower than on the Stadium Course and the greens more severe. Keeping the ball in play is a bit more difficult making accuracy off the tee crucial for good scoring. Approach shots need to be well planned as being on the wrong level on some of these greens is a three putt in waiting.
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is a large upscale resort with every imaginable amenity and luxury. From the Willow Stream Spa to the tennis complex and fine dining at Bourbon Steak or The Hacienda restaurants, this resort has it all. Accommodations range from oversize rooms all the way to generous casita living. Like the nearby Phoenician, Westin Kierland and JW Marriott Desert Ridge resorts, this is another fine example of today's world class resorts.
The Fairmont's pool areas are large beautiful spaces that front part of the Stadium Course. It is here, on the fourth hole right by the main pool, where your author recorded a hole in one the year the course opened. I have fond memories and a slight bias for this place.