Grayhawk Golf Club (Talon)

Grayhawk Golf Club (Talon) – Played May 2018

  • Rankings: Golf Magazine Public #99
  • Location: 8620 East Thompson Peak Parkway, Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Year: 1994
  • Architect: David Graham & Gary Panks
  • Course Access: Public
  • Walking Rules: Carts Available

Score Card Information:

  • Talon: 6,973 yards, Par 72, 73.3 Rating/146 Slope
  • Palo Verde: 6,430 yards, Par 72, 70.8 Rating/134 Slope
  • Terra Cotta: 5,867 yards, Par 72, 68.3 Rating/122 Slope (Men’s), 73.3 Rating/136 Slope (Women’s)
  • Heather: 5,143 yards, Par 72, 69.3 Rating/118 Slope

The Talon course at Grayhawk Golf Club was my first foray into desert golf.  It was also my first course played in Arizona after arriving from our quick jaunt to San Francisco.

I had a 7:40 am tee time and was ready to go to beat the heat.  Once I checked in, the pro shop attendant told me I was the first player off.  This is always great news if I am playing by myself.  I told him I’d see him in a couple hours about which he didn’t seem confident.

Let’s do some quick hits on the background of the course.  It is located in North Scottsdale and has a rich tournament history.  It has hosted the Andersen Consulting World Championship of Golf; pro ams for the Waste Management Phoenix Open; the Heather Farr Trophy Matches and the Tostito’s Fiesta Bowl Golf Classic.

The course is also home to the Kostis/McCord Learning Center.  You may not always see those two, but the dedicated staff are there everyday to help out with your game.  Also, Stan Utley the noted short game specialist works out of Grayhawk.

You’ll see in the photos, but the course has awesome views of the McDowell Mountains and Phoenix skyline.  The back nine is visually stunning for sure.  I played the Palo Verde tees for reference on the yardages.

Hole 1 – 385 yards – Par 4 – Farrview

A hallmark of desert golf and definitely the Talon is to have fairways that appear smaller than they are.  The first tee shot exemplifies that perfectly.  It looks narrow, but there is ample grass out there.  As an aside, this hole is dedicated to the late Heather Farr, LPGA standout and Grayhawk ambassador.

After a solid drive the approach is pretty tame.  The lone bunker is the only obstacle.  This is a good opportunity to go for the pin.

Once you get closer, the green contours reveal themselves.  This back pin requires a precise shot to be on the correct level.

Hole 2 – 309 yards – Par 4 – Bogle

The left side of the fairway is best here.  A large bunker and desert skirt the right side.

Deep bunkers and a tree guard the front of the green.  You can start to see the tiers of the putting surface from here letting you know that distance control is important.

Here is a closer look at the green and its undulation.

Hole 3 – 465 yards – Par 5 – Three Sisters

At this distance, you should be thinking birdie.  The hole doglegs left.  The bold line is up the left to cut the corner.  You need to carry it all the way though or end up among trees.

As you turn the corner you see the holes namesake bunkers on the right.  Stay to the left here.

Below is a closer look at the bunkers.  You can see just how deep they are with railroad ties added for an extra challenge.

Hole 4 – 402 yards – Par 4 – Ironwood

I wanted to show you first the hole markers that give you the view of the layout.  I like the coloring with its desert vibe.

I started to catch up to the sprinklers here, one of the downsides of playing fast.  This hole is straightaway.  A bunker and tree guard the right side.

You start to see some more vegetation as you get closer to the green.  The green is framed by mounds on the left and behind as well.

This green is pretty large with the bunker guarding the front.  The desert pinches in pretty quick on the right.

Hole 5 – 133 yards – Par 3 – Sentinel

This small hole packs a punch.  The first challenge is the massive bunker in front of the green.  It basically runs the length of the hole.  You must carry this.

The next challenge is the huge green.  There are myriad pin positions.  Also, there is the pot bunker behind the green ready to snatch those who clubbed up to avoid the one short.

Hole 6 – 422 yards – Par 4 – The Ridge

This hole calls for driver off the tee.  The namesake of the hole is a ridge on the left side that extends down about 15 feet.  A slight draw up the right side is good here.

The elevation change in the hole is noticeable below.  You can get some uneven lies in this fairway.

The green is a big target and should be easy to find.  If your lag putting is good you should be able to walk away with a par.

Hole 7 – 366 yards – Par 4 – Flash Flood

This one is on the shorter side and driver may not be the play.  Up the right side, trees and desert come in to narrow the fairway.

As you view the approach you can see the outline of the large bunker on the left.  Grass mounds protect the right side of the green.

The green runs off at certain spots, like the front seen in the photo below.

Hole 8 – 189 yards – Par 3 – Desert Burn

The desert comes into play here in the form of a wash you can see from the tee in the photos below.  The target seems small, but the desert can play tricks on the eyes.

In reality the putting surface is quite large.  With that it has multiple undulations and runoffs.  Wayward shots here can make for interesting up and downs.

Hole 9 – 507 yards – Par 5 – Grady’s Lair

A long bomb down the middle is the play here.  There is a bunker left and as always the desert to be aware of.

This tree is just chilling in the middle of the hole.  I’m not always a fan of this, but I didn’t mind it here for some reason.

The large bunker on the right is the main defense of the green.  There is also the couple trees on the left.  If you’ve laid up well though you should have a short club in hand and be aiming at the pin.

This view from behind shows that the sand wraps all the way back here.  I liked the view from this angle for a photo, but not for a shot.

Hole 10 – 422 yards – Par 4 – Reflection

I actually teed off down the 18th fairway here!  My bad :).  Make sure you check the yardage book or play with a local!  Here is the view of the second shot.

These photos of the green don’t show the bunkers and canyon to the left of the green.  Obviously, the miss is to the right.  This green is on the flatter side though to give you an opportunity to roll one in.

Hole 11 – 161 yards – Par 3 – Swinging Bridge

One of the best and most recognizable views is to be had on the tee here.  Another fun note, a suspension bridge is used to get to the back tee.  It gets you over the box canyon.  The tee shot here is all carry to the multi-level green.

The hole from a different angle.

Here is a view of the green.

From behind you can see the green contours more clearly.

Hole 12 – 405 yards – Par 4 – Double Cross

There is much more fairway here that it appears.  Avoid flaring shots to the right though.

If you go a little to the right in the fairway your view will be obscured as seen below.  A desert wash and native cacti sit in your way.

Saw plenty of these around.

Here is a closer look at the green.

Hole 13 – 277 yards – Par 4 – Heaven or Hell

You have options here.  The name of the hole refers to the outcome of taking driver off the tee.  Offline shots will go down in flames.  If you block your tee ball to the right go ahead and get another one.

The conservative play with an iron should lead to the view below.  From here you can attack the large green with a short iron.  Right is still bad though with deep bunkers present.

Below is the view from the right side of the green on the mound.  You can see the ridge that goes through the green.

Hole 14 – 519 yards – Par 5 – Phantom Point

Let the big dog eat right here.  The hole is straight with a bunker left and mounds on the right.

Below is the view of the second shot.  Lay ups can be tricky with the cross bunkering.

Here is a look from a normal third shot distance.  The green is slightly elevated with sand close by the edges.

The green is one of the flattest on the course.  Take advantage!

Hole 15 – 419 yards – Par 4 – North Rim

The fairway here is a bit like a punchbowl stretched out.  With a middle that sits below either side shots should funnel to the middle.

If you are in certain parts of the fairway the tree seen below can affect your view.

Right is dead here with a large canyon looming.  The tree on the left can alter your plans by forcing you into a tight window.

This behind view illustrates the tree’s proximity and slope of the green quite nicely.

Hole 16 – 383 yards – Par 4 – Deception

The goal here is a straight tee shot up the middle for a good look at the green.  The mountain is a good aiming point.

Below is a look at the approach.  The middle bunker in the distance awaits misses.  Grass swales protect the right side of the green.

The green is two-tiered.  With front pins you can use the ridge as a backstop.  This view shows the runoff areas for poorly struck shots.

Hole 17 – 114 yards – Par 3 – Devil’s Drink

This is a great name for this hole.  Be sure to get the yardage right because the island green takes no prisoners!  The green is pretty big, but I chose the wrong club and ended up wet.

The green is no joke either with two levels.

Hole 18 – 552 yards – Par 5 – Five Falls

This one is three shots home for all but the longer hitters.  The hole doglegs to the right, but the corner is protected by a large bunker.

Below is a view of the second shot with the green way in the distance.

The next two photos show the approach for your third and a closer look at the green.  Water juts in on the left side and is definitely in play if you are going for it in two.

The green is pretty big and has a slight boomerang shape.  There are lots of options for pin locations here.  This particular one sits close to the left side and the water.

The Talon course was a great introduction to desert golf.  I didn’t know where I was going at times, but that is part of the experience playing out here.  My early tee time allowed me to fly around the course and beat the heat.  That freedom let me take in the holes and scenery.  That was an added bonus since everything was so new.  With great turf conditions and smooth greens, Grayhawk is a worthy addition to any trip to Scottsdale.

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