Desert golf is not typically well-known for its walkable courses, due both to hot temperatures and because real estate developments frequently intersect between holes. Jay Morrish, whose mark is on many courses like those described above, took a different tack at Talking Rock Golf Club, setting tee boxes close to the preceding greens to encourage the walking golfer. Granted, it helps that Prescott is not quite the hotbox that is Phoenix but, south of Flagstaff, the weather remains golfable all year round.
Although the walk may be relatively simple, the course is less so, stretching 7,350 yards from the back tees. Although there are certainly long holes — such as the well-bunkered 640-yard monolith at No. 5 — Morrish still stays true to his roots, which includes a drivable par four. In this case, No. 15 measures 340 yards from the back tees, but the downhill teebox makes a go at the green conceivable for desert tigers.
The closer on both sides is a par five, both of which share the same imposing pond upon approach, as well as a large, common bunker separating the two greens.
It's hard to imagine that when you have a talent architect, which Jay Morrish certainly was, and when combined with the scenic grandeur that is Prescott, you would think a top tier golf course would be the result. Guess again. The issue with Talking Rock is that it's devoid of anything remotely in the same zip code with the words strategic architecture. The course is simply wide fairways with bunkers that are for the most part just cosmetically placed. The holes are vanilla in their pedestrian manner and there's little -- save for a few fleeting moments -- where the pulse rises beyond that of a flicker.
Prescott is one of Arizona's most amazing locales and it would be fitting for a golf course to be in that same rarified air.
Talking Rock was about selling homes -- positioned along fairways -- with off-course views. It's a shame because a wonderful opportunity was simply missed.
by M. James Ward