Grayhawk GC, Scottsdale. Raptor Course by Tom Fazio, 1995.

A lot of desert courses sit up high on hillsides and feel open with most desert vegetation being low bushes and the occasional tall but skinny saguaro. Raptor is a desert course but set down low, with mesquite trees dominating the desert areas (and hiding the homes). The course is wide enough, but it doesn’t feel open the way most desert courses do. There are quite a few solid holes and memorable greens here—I really like the front side par 5s and the intimidating long par-3 13th. In 2015, to make room for future development, the course closed the 15th and 16th holes and brought Fazio back in to reroute that portion of the course. The old 15th was a nice enough short par 4, but the 16th was the course’s signature, a downhill par 3 played into a bowl with a pond by the green. It felt like no other hole on the course, but it was pretty and memorable. The new 15th is a solid hole but the 16th is lackluster, especially given what it was replacing. The new holes also feel very out of place since there’s been no landscaping yet, so the mesquite trees that give the rest of the course so much of its character are nowhere to be found. The work also converted the 17th from a long, difficult par 4 to a drive and pitch hole. They didn’t touch the scary three-tiered green, which was a beast on a 440+ yard hole, but seems much more appropriate to hold a wedge shot. Reviews of the new work are mixed so far, at best, but so it goes with change. Time will tell.

Arizona 3rd Decile [2015]


Grayhawk GC. Talon Course by Gary Panks and David Graham, 1994.

There are some good holes here, like the risk/reward/reachable 13th and the 3rd with three intimidating bunkers climbing the hill in front of the green, but not as many as on the Raptor Course across the street. The island green 17th is so silly and out of place here, I can’t imagine who was pushing for it.

Arizona 3rd Decile [2012]

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