Whisper Rock Golf Club is tucked away in the north Scottsdale desert. This private members facility is accessed via the guard-gated entrance to a residential community which just so happens to have two fine golf courses in their collection.
The Lower Course (2001) was the first course to open on the Whisper Rock property and it was also the first course designed by Phil Mickelson. The second course, the Upper, was fashioned by Tom Fazio in 2005 and is the centrepiece of Whisper Rock. Billed as “the Pine Valley of the southwest”, the 7,118-yard Upper course certainly has a label to live up to and, while it will never be Pine Valley, Whisper Rock is about as good as desert golf gets.
Key to scoring well and maintaining a prickle free round is to keep the ball in play as rough desert and spiky cacti surround most holes. Once you have negotiated the forced carries, there’s plenty of generous fairway width to play with. Where the Upper course asks questions is at the approach shot which often requires pinpoint accuracy in order to avoid the desert and find the playing surfaces. It’s better to be in a greenside bunker than in the Arizona scrub with the cacti and lizards!
Membership to Whisper Rock is by invitation only and there are only around 300 members and 20 of these are golf professionals including tour pros Phil Mickelson (who clearly enjoys playing on his own creation), Tim Herron and Billy Mayfair. Apparently the average handicap at Whisper Rock Golf Club is a very respectable 8.