Owned and operated by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the 36-hole golf complex at Talking Stick Golf Club was unveiled in 1997, sporting two Coore & Crenshaw-designed courses. The O’odham, formerly called the North course, is longer than its sibling, featuring a fascinating set of green complexes.
A polarising course among the group of us who played. Personally, I thought is was understated, almost raw, completely unplugged and in many ways a refreshing contrast to more conditioned courses in the area. Admittedly I am a fan of the design team, which may have impacted my objectivity and admittedly, at times it seemed that a hole was no more than a green, a fairway and a solitary fairway bunker. However, the bunker was there for a solid strategic reason and it was always built as an attractive feature. Favourite holes were the par 4, 4th which required consideration of a bunker on the driver line but provided a double fairway, the par 4, 12th where a decision on carry distance off the tee with a creek / desert wash on the left which is very much in play for the majority of the hole and a solid, robust pair of finishing holes. The course as a whole offers different flow and orientations together with a variety of lengths. A substantial plus for me was the lack of houses on and around the site.
As disappointing as the Piipaash course is, the O’Odham is a fine public golf course designed by Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw on a flat piece of land. Unlike the Piipaash where seemingly every green looks and feels the same, there is good variety of size and definition to the greens on the O’Odham course. As there is more yardage on the course, the routing offers more variety as well, from a short 153 yard par 3 to a 582 yard par 5.
This is not a golf course that will offer anything either unique or special either in its routing or bunkering, but this is a fine public option if one cannot get on the numerous better public options in the greater Phoenix/Tempe/Scottsdale area.
The better holes are the fourth requiring a carry across a wash and bunkers, the short eighth par 3, the long par 3 eleventh hole due to the fronting bunkers providing a nice visual, the twelfth with the ravine requiring one to determine whether to carry the waste area and ravine to shorter the line to the green or play more safely out to the right, and the eighteenth as a long dogleg left par 4 with well placed bunkers to carry for a shot to the green.
There are many dull holes as well such as the first, second, tenth, thirteenth and sixteen.
However, the greens are interesting enough with nice slopes, and tilts. They are inconsistent in terms of pace which is a bit frustrating, but overall they are the best part of the golf course.
Unless one is staying on property at the Talking Stick casino or in town for minor-league baseball, there is no reason to play here more than once and there are many better public options nearby for about the same price, and possibly less expensive. For residents, there is a good membership option that makes this a decent course to play at a fraction of the price.
This was my very course I played in the USA. I had only been playing for a few months but had the bug so on holiday arranged a 6am tee time in the middle of August. Given that it was the Summer the rate including buggy was only $50, instead of the normal $200+ in the winter.
My 1st and lasting impression was just how well the team there looked after you. On arrival I was met in the parking lot and they carried my bag to the clubhouse where I was given half a dozen callaway balls, my buggy with water spinners to keep me cool and driven down to my range balls with my name on them - all for $50!
The starter cam and introduced himself and then introduced me to my playing partners - I thought I would be on my own. Two were US military personnel and one was a gentleman called Ray who was in his late 50's.
He was astonishingly straight off the tee, GIR every time! After 9 holes it emerged that he used to play on the PGA Tour and was best friends with Jim Furyk. He simply loved to come down every saturday morning and meet new people over a round of golf. What a gentleman.
The course was beautiful. I had never seen attention to detail and conditioning like that before and so it will always leave a lasting impression. There are so many courses around Scottsdale and this may not be the best but for me the entire experience was amazing.
The backdrop to the course was pleasant, the course itself was interesting and in excellent condition, but it will be the welcome, friendliness, attentiveness of the staff but the pure joy of playing alongside Ray that will stick with me forever.
It took me a while to play here, but I’m very happy that I finally did. A great experience, from bag drop to leaving. First the customer service is excellent, everyone made me feel that I was welcome and they were happy that I chose their facility.
The course did not disappoint me. The condition was excellent, nothing to complain about. Pace of play mon-fri is very good, employees told me to avoid the weekends. Not a lot of elevation change, but still some challenging holes. I think many of us would like to speak with Mr.Crenshaw about that split fairway........
I think this will be one of my favorite facilities, definitely be returning.
I am surprised it made the top 20. Nice course not great, it is a little longer than it's sister course. No real signature hole in my opinion. The par 3 11 is interesting, at 220+ yards, not for the faint of heart. The short par 4 12th offsets 11. A disappointing Coore & Crenshaw design. There are a lot of other courses i would play before heading back there
I paid a 5 days visit to Scottsdale one month ago playing 6 courses and riding another 8 more. Most of them offer the same geographic features with desert areas, level changes, mountains and sunny blue skies. But this one was the only one where "beauty" was not that much but what was good about it was design, challenge and playability.
Arrived early morning to the airport after 3 flights and directly to the course to play with 2 locales, father and son, who gave me more insights about the course and some other locales courses I was about to check so the round helped me a lot to understand the destination. It feels like all the courses are the same and it is hard to remember holes on each of them as the views don't change that much from one course to another.
Said this, a Core & Crenshaw Design will rarely disappoint you and this is another case where with a not great piece of land they did something really good and fun to play. It is important to state that in the desert ball carries 1 more club than in normal conditions due to the mix of altitude and dry light aire with no humidity at all despite the heat (it was 30C or so and no sweating at all).
Another thing to state is it was not the high ray grass season but early summer so bermuda had almost won the battle and the course showed to need maybe one more week to be perfect but it was good and fun. And it was a windy day so it added to the challenge of my first round after the long trip.
This might not be one of the greats or must play of the destination but it is one good one to start, as not very demanding off the tee and the real challenge was approach shots and around the very fast greens. It is one of those courses where even high handicappers will be able to finish the round with the same ball that they started, which is not bad at all.
Not many "special" holes but some worth an extra note:
- Par 3 8th a very nice ondulated green which played into the wind and made it tough to judge correct distance.
- Long par 3 11th which we teed it from 240yds with a false bunker in front was one of those creative ones.
- short par 4 12th was another of the creative ones, with a "creek" dividing the fairway in 2 giving you the chance of a shorter and more challenging way to the green.
- par 5 17th into the wind was great where a good driver will give you a good call to get there in 2.
All in one a good starter for the tour and with a Top Golf just 2mins from the course a great day to start the trip.
The 36-hole facility is east of Highway 101 and is located on land that really doesn't provide much differentiation. The word "subtle" is often used to describe the design but one can as easily apply the word "lackluster" too. Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the talented design tandem, have done a number of stellar designs but the finished product at Talking Stick North simply underwhelms. To the credit of Crenshaw and Coore, they did not attempt to superimpose an amazing amount of earth moving in order to provide some form of artificial differentiation which would stick out in a garish manner.
The par-5 2nd is a solid example of a hole that appears easy but will bite quite quick and hard for the over aggressive play as out-of-bounds on the left side follows the entire length of the hole and then comes extremely close to the green. Those going for the putting surface in two shots cannot pull or hook their attempt without risking a big number on the scorecard.
There's nothing per se bad about the course but there's nothing that really stirs the blood either. Sometime when minimalism is used the idea that "less is more" can result in "less is less."
One of my favorite holes is the superb par-4 12th hole. The challenge is deciding one's line of attack. You can play to the wider and safer right side -- or opt to take a more direct line that features a far longer carry and greater risk with out-of-bounds again on the left side hugging ever nearby and a desert wash that runs parallel to the line of play.
The issue for Talking Stick's North Course is that the bar for golf in the Valley of the Sun has risen dramatically with various facilities at sites that include a full range of epic shotmaking challenges and visual stimulations.
The desire to include two 18-hole courses on the property meant a number of holes at the North running parallel to one another and follow a north/south dynamic. There are moments of note when playing the North Course but they are often so muted to be more in the shadows than what might have been.
by M. James Ward
The challenge of Talking Stick comes at you subtly rather than beating you over the head with forced carries or water features. Instead, it is the devious placement of bunkers that really challenges a golfer's game on this rather flat course.
The course and its sister South course are located on an Indian reservation and as such, have much better access to water than the surrounding Phoenix courses (keeping the course in a brilliant green) and also are mercifully bereft of houses to hem a golfer in.
That being said, flat and straightforward is the order of the round and while the tee boxes, fairways and greens are all in top shape, and the course is subtly devious and provides a great quiet round in the desert, the course's routing and hole construction do leave something to the imagination. I am not quite sure what Coore and Crenshaw could have done different with the land other than what they did as all the parts add up but the aggregate sum is missing that "wow" factor.
Be sure to look for the great par 3 16th hole named Roadrunner which does in fact have a few roadrunners patrolling the hole. One of the best named holes for sure!