Course Architects: Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore
Year Opened: 1998
Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
Slope: 123. Rating: 72.7
Par: 70
Yardage: 7,133
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 394 Yds    10 - Par 4 437 Yds
                      2 - Par 5 552 Yds    11 - Par 3 261 Yds
                      3 - Par 4 450 Yds    12 - Par 4 392 Yds
                      4 - Par 4 433 Yds    13 - Par 4 391 Yds
                      5 - Par 4 391 Yds    14 - Par 4 445 Yds
                      6 - Par 3 223 Yds    15 - Par 4 461 Yds
                      7 - Par 4 457 Yds    16 - Par 3 194 Yds
                      8 - Par 3 153 Yds    17 - Par 5 582 Yds
                      9 - Par 4 446 Yds    18 - Par 4 471 Yds
                      Par 35  3,499 Yds     Par 35  3,634 Yds

Awards Won: Best New Course in the State Arizona Republic Newspaper (1997),
            #1 - America's Best Courses, State by State (Golfweek, 2002-04),
            #97 - Top 100 You Can Play - Golf Magazine (2002-03),
            100 Best Golf Shops - Golf World Business (2000-04),
            Rated Four Stars - Places to Play - Golf Digest (2004).

Key Events Held: PGA Tour Qualifying School (1998-99),
                 USGA Mid-Amateur Sectional Qualifier (1998, 2002),
                 AGA 4-Ball Championship (1998),
                 National Club Championship for Women (1998),
                 AGA Mid-Amateur Championship (2003),
                 USGA Women's Publinks Qualifier (2003),
                 The Gateway Tour (2002-04),
                 USGA Women's Mid-Amateur Qualifier (2004).


HISTORY:  In just  a  short period  of  time, Talking  Stick  has gained  some
national  prominence after  hosting the PGA Tour's Q-School in 1998-99 and has
been  ranked as  the top public access  course in the state of Arizona for the
past  three  years. Located on land  and owned by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa
Indian  Community,  Talking Stick features  36 holes of outstanding golf, with
more  of it  residing on the North Course.  It was designed by the team of Ben
Crenshaw  and  Bill Coore, who  have crafted  some outstanding gems across the
country  like  Sand Hills  in Nebraska,  the Plantation  Course at Kapalua and
Hidden  Creek in  New Jersey.  The name  "talking stick"  is derived  from two
different  is that  the talking stick  was an ancient calendar
of  important  events for the  Pima tribe with some  of the events depicted on
the stick, such as those of harvests, droughts, solar eclipse, and  festivals;
the  other is  that a  stick was  passed around  to the  person who  wanted to
speak  at  a tribal meeting and  that, in fact  was its origin. The truth will
never  really be known  and the stories will evolve from one generation to the
next. Hawaiian professional Regan Lee owns the course  record  on the north as
a  result of  his shooting a 10-under-par  60 in 2002. Not bad considering the
fact that he made a bogey to go along with his nine birdies and one eagle.

REVIEW:  Good news  and bad  news await you on  the first  tee. You'll  notice
that  the fairways  are large and accommodating, that's the good news. The bad
news,  this course does  not have a par-four under 390 yards, and 16 of the 18
greens are over 30  yards in  depth with the  bunkering around  the course  is
reminiscent  of Scottish  links. So, lock and load and, hopefully, be ready to
wield  a  hot putter. The first  hole bends slightly  to the left off the tee,
requiring  a three-metal  off the  box.  A wedge  remains to  a fairly  large,
round  green  that slopes  from back-to-front. Sand  protects the surface left
and right, while a pot bunker stands 50 yards short  of the green.  A definite
birdie hole, but not a bad one with which to start off with par. The second is
aptly  named the  "Boundary",  as the  entire left  side  borders the  desert.
Another  big fairway,  so rear  back, turn  and just  pound one  out there  to
give yourself  a shot at  the green in two, provided you keep it straight down
the  middle, or  close to it. Two  bunkers guard the right side of the putting
surface,  while  just 15-20  feet to  the left is  out of  bounds. There is no
margin  for  error, so miss  right and try to  get up-and-down for birdie. The
green  is the narrowest  on the course at just 18 yards and is one of only two
that  are  under 30  yards in depth.  You will certainly  need your driver off
the  tee on three. However the farther down the fairway you go, the tighter it
gets,  as numerous sand bunkers protect the right side landing area. A mid- to
long-iron  will be  required for  your  second, as  you attack  a fairly  flat
green.  Miss  short and right  and you'll find yourself  in one of the deepest
bunkers  on  the course. Rated  the hardest hole  of this eighteen, the fourth
is a great par- four with abundant choices, hence the name "Three Roads". Play
left  and  you'll leave  yourself  a  mid- to  long-iron  to  the green.  Miss
right  and  you still might  catch a piece of  fairway, but chances are you'll
hit  sand  or desert  or both. Go  straight and, well,  you'll need a 240-yard
carry  over first  desert and  then  encounter sand  from which  to reach  the
fairway.  Not a  lot of breathing room here.  A big tee ball will leave only a
short-  to  mid-iron to a green  that slopes from back-to-front with sand left
and  right.  When Joey  Snyder shot 62  during his final  round on the Gateway
Tour,  this was  the  only blemish  on  his scorecard,  as he  made  a not  so
memorable  bogey.  The only  place on the  fifth hole that  is taboo, is dead-
center  of the fairway. So much for hitting it straight down the middle. A pot
bunker  resides some  240 yards  out from  the back  tees, placed  directly in
harm's  way. Nobody  I  know, however,  hits it  that  straight. A  short-iron
will be left to the most protected green on the course, flanked back, left and
front  by  sand.  The putting  surface  is  just  23  yards wide  with  slight
undulation,  right-center. This  is your last legitimate attempt at birdie for
the  next  few holes. The first  par-three on the  course, the sixth is a bear
of  a hole.  It measures  223 yards  from the  tips so  the more  adventurous,
daring  and confident  among you will need all you have, especially if playing
into  the wind.  To make matters worse, the putting surface is quite difficult
sloping  several  different ways and  is over 40 yards  in length. By the way,
miss  the  green right  or left  and two  deep bunkers  await. Another big tee
shot is needed on the straightaway seventh, as it  stretches 457 yards. You'll
still  have a mid- to long-iron left to a green that slopes, as Clint Eastwood
said,  "Every  which way but  loose." A back-right  pin is next to impossible,
so  take your  par  or  bogey and  move  on. Club  selection  will  be key  if
you  want a  chance at birdie on the  eighth. A scant 153 yards, this hole can
be  had, especially  when the wind is  down. Avoid the sand short and left and
you  can  get one back. The  outward nine closes with another rugged par-four,
that  features  a  tighter  landing  area, protected  by  three  bunkers  (one
left  and  two right). A  medium- to long-iron remains  to one of three greens
over  40 yards in depth. Make certain that you are aware of the mound left and
right  on the  putting surface  as well  as the  with a  bunker on  the right.
Making  par here will  be a blessing in disguise or better yet, "surprise," as
you head for the longer back nine.

The  bottom  line on the  inward holes is  to take the  driver out and keep it
out.  Let's  start out  with  the  10th, a  par-four  that  not only  requires
accuracy  off  the  tee,  but  length  as well.  A  pair  of  fairway  bunkers
strategically  placed guard each side of the landing area. A mid- to long-iron
takes  you left  to a  green that  features two  mounds in  the center  of the
surface.  No bunkers  around the  green, just  closely shaved  chipping areas.
Usually  par-three's are rated as the easiest holes  on the course but not the
11th.  From the  back  buttons, you'll  need  driver, as  the  hole plays  261
yards.  Would  you believe  a small cannon?  It's 210 yards  just to carry the
desert and bunker  40 yards  shy of the green. A  hogback in the center of the
surface  is the  green's lone  obstacle. Your  short game  will be  definitely
tested.  A signature hole if there ever was one, the 12th is a gem. Nicknamed,
"Red   Mountain  Gambler,"   this  392-yarder  really  only  has  one  option,
although  the  big hitters  will test  their brawn. The  main fairway sits off
to  the right,  setting the  hole  as a  dogleg  left. A  50-yard wide  desert
gulch  (waste bunker) stretches straight ahead  from  the tee, 237  yards from
the  back buttons.  It then  narrows  to a  ditch, splitting  the fairway  and
fronting the green. You  have to see it to believe  it. The smart  money is to
play  right  and leave  yourself with  a wedge  to a  narrow green that slopes
to  the front  with three  mounds  dotting the  surface.  This is  one of  the
easiest  holes  to birdie  and to  double-bogey. That's  golf's version of the
ultimate  oxymoron.  The  13th is  a  dogleg  right  and  gives the  player  a
chance  to get  one back, most likely  his last chance. Trying to cut too much
off  at the  corner will result in bogey  or worse, so play out left and leave
yourself  a short-iron  to a  green  protected left  by sand.  The surface  is
deep  at 36  yards, but  not  too undulating.  Another  big tee  shot will  be
required  on  the 14th  and make  sure you  stay right  of the fairway bunkers
that  dot the left side. A medium-iron will remain to a deep green that slopes
from  back-to-front with  a bunkers  left  and right.  If  the pin  is on  the
right  side  of the  surface, don't  short side  yourself as  you will be hard
pressed  to keep your bunker shot on the green. There  is no shame in bogey at
at  this one  and forget the eraser you  have in your bag. Golf pencils do not
come with any and with good, obvious reasons...this is one of them. A 230-yard
tee  shot is  needed to carry the  bunker that guards the fairway on the 15th.
That  being said, you'll  be left with a mid-iron to an oval-shaped green that
is  the longest  on the  course  at 42  yards  in depth.  The putting  surface
features  a couple  of knolls  and slopes  from right-to-left.  Take your  par
and move on.  The last of the one shotters, the 16th is right in front of you.
No  gimmicks, just  194  yards to  an  average-sized green  with  a couple  of
humps  and  bumps.  Not  really  a  birdie  hole,  but  certainly  a  hole  to
make par. The  final par-five on the course, the 17th is also  the longest  at
582  yards  from the black tees.  If the fairways  are firm and fast, a player
certainly has a chance to reach the green in two. However pinpoint  control is
a  must, as bunkers dot both sides of the fairway off the tee  and the fairway
narrows on its approach to the green. The putting surface is quite tricky with
a  hogback in  the center and small mounds  in the front and right, as well as
a  deep  bunker  to  the  right.  Par is  a  must,  birdie  a  possibility.  A
fitting  finish to  an outstanding course, "Trail's End" typifies the Crenshaw
and  Coore philosophy of strategy, beautiful bunkering and natural appearance.
A  230-yard  bomb  down  the  right side  over  two  fairway-guarding  bunkers
will  leave a  mid- to  long-iron to  a deep,  but narrow  green. The  putting
surface  is  flanked by a  pair of deep, long  bunkers, while the green slopes
several  different  ways. Just pick  yours. If you  make par here, your better
than most.

OVERALL:  Standing on  the first tee, a large wide-open fairway awaits and you
think,  "Oh,  this course  should be  simple". What foolish mortals we be. The
fact  of the matter  is that you'll be mistaken. Just because the fairways are
ample,  doesn't mean that  this is an easy course. Far from it. Remember, this
is  a par-70  that stretches  over 7,100  yards with  four par-fours  over 450
yards  and two  par-threes over 220, including a 261-yarder. There is no rough
to speak of which means that if you miss the fairway you're in the desert  and
your  chances  of escaping  cleanly is  slim and none.  The views of Camelback
and  the McDowell Mountains as well as Pinnacle Peak are outstanding. Bringing
a  camera along  for a later trip down  memory lane or a blow up to adorn your
den  or  office wall  might be a  good idea. Talking  Stick is quite different
from  your  typical Scottsdale-style  venue of target  golf. Wide fairways, no
trees,  strategically  placed bunkers,  flat landscape  and a natural setting.
In  a  few words, what  you see is  what you get.  "The North course, with its
broad,  angular holes  rewards thoughtful  play through  the rise  of its many
options  according  to one's level  of skill,"  commented the design duo. "Its
low-profile,  slightly  crowned greens and close- cropped approaches encourage
running   as  well   as  aerial  assaults."  To  coin  a  phrase,  this  is  a
"minimalist"  design  with beautiful vistas  of the surrounding area. But what
makes this place  so special is  the outstanding bunkering on every hole. That
which   sets   these  architects   apart   from   most  designers   is   their
imagination  with  sand and their  use of the land.  This course will make you
employ  all your  clubs as well as  every shot you've ever learned or feel you
are capable of attempting with reasonably anticipated results, from flying the
ball  to the hole or punching it in under the wind. Rest assured that you will
be  tested. The  course is for all  levels of play, as it stretches from 5,500
yards to over 7,000. However there are  only  three  sets  of  tees. Not to be
forgotten    are   the    outstanding   course    conditions   from    tee-to-
green...absolutely  immaculate.  The staff  is very  knowledgeable and the pro
shop  is  well stocked with  a great selection  of clubs and clothes. Finally,
the  practice  facility. How about  a 25-acre  driving range that includes two
large  teeing  areas with  space for nearly  one-hundred hitting stations. The
range  provides  a grass hitting surface  and sand bunkers guarding the target
greens  to help the  golfer's visualization. To top it off, the golf school is
run  by Tim Mahoney,  ranked as one of Golf Digest's 50 Greatest Teachers. All
rounds include range balls,  yardage  books, bag tag,  divot tool and cart and
the  price  is right.  Talking Stick  is a must  play for  the avid golfer who
loves a challenge. As was stated in a somewhat memorable film, "I'll be back."