Silverado Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ
Tee Time: March 23, 2013, 12:04, 75 F, Breezy
Designer: Ross Graves/Jack Gilmore (2000)
Playing Partners: Pat Spomer, Ray and Dwight
Tees: Gold, Par 70 (68.0 rating/116 slope/6,313 yards)
Course Handicap: 13 (12.9 index)
Stats: 82 (43-39); 29 putts; 3/12 fairways; 5/18 greens; 2 penalty strokes; 1 eagle
Scottsdale Silverado Golf Club has the benefit of being the nicest golf course in the immediate vicinity of Old Town. That being said, it isn’t on par with the other tracks that make Scottsdale a prime golf destination. There is enough here to make it memorable, however. An excellent back nine saves the place from mediocrity and challenging greens make even the most straightforward holes just a bit tougher. Unfortunately, this course skews more toward the executive style of play rather than the fantastic resort style of Talking Stick, its closest neighbor.
Life is always good when a golf course starts with a short, downhill par 5. That’s how I got my eagle after a driver-9 iron approach to the 514-yard opener that drifts gently to the right. For the rest of the front nine it gets a little hazy as the holes sort of blend together into a portrait of blandness. The 2nd, which is the first of Silverado’s six par-3’s, is the prime example of that last sentence. Literally a straightforward short-iron shot, 170 yards, to a round green surrounded by cookie-cutter bunkers. If you Googled “Generic Par 3”, this might be one of the top results. If you somehow didn’t make par there, you can take out your anger on the tee as 2 of the 3 longest par-4’s await at holes 3 and 4. They play 441 and 420 yards, respectively, with a dogleg right fairway and guarded bunker for each. The real problem with this course is what waits next, nos. 5 and 6. I love drivable par 4’s as much as the next guy, but placing it right before a long par 3 is just poor planning. If one guy in one group decides they want to go for it, well now we’re waiting another 10 minutes for the green to clear. And with the natural logjam that par 3’s tend to cause, next thing you know you’ve got five groups of golfers on two holes and two of those groups aren’t playing any golf. The 303-yard 5th would also be much more fun if it weren’t right on Hayden Road, one of the busier streets in Scottsdale, especially so close to Chapparal Park. Surprisingly, there are no nets lining the property to catch what I’m sure are dozens of errant tee shots every day from golfers putting that extra oomph into their swings trying to reach the hole. I myself saw three golf balls rain down on the asphalt. I won’t say whose they might be, but I’d hate to catch a Titleist in the windshield. Or worse yet, a Top Flite. Those things can probably do more damage to your ride than a deer. Finish that hole and twenty-five minutes later you may finally get to take a stab at the par-3 6th. A carbon copy of the 6th is the final par 3 of the front side at the eighth, also measuring 201 yards from an elevated tee.
The back nine at Silverado starts with a blind tee shot on #10, a medium length par-4 that is drivable for longer hitters who know where to aim (hint: over a building). The next hole is almost a half-mile drive under the bridge to the north, where nos. 11-17 sit. This is where the elevated tees and quiet atmosphere save the course from its forgettable front side. The pace of play really picks up as well, partially because the layout is more friendly to speedy golf and partially because the impatient golfers quit at the turn. The 11th is the most challenging of the course’s par 5’s. It can be reached in two if the tee shot is long enough, but not so deep that it goes through the bend in the fairway. Trees to the left and a wash running about 75 yards from the green front interfere a bit with any attempts to reach the massive putting surface with a second shot. The final par 5 at Silverado, the 535-yard 14th, is also the only hole on the course that runs noticeably uphill, and into the breeze. The canal and joggers line the left side while homes, and more water if you dunk one into the community swimming pool, form the right-side boundary. Coming home from there are the best 4 holes at the golf club. They feature the best views, with enough elevation to get a good look at the mountains just a few miles to the west. The most demanding hole of the back nine, the 430-yard par-4 17th, is also the narrowest before running to a well-guarded green, not just with sand but also awkward mounds that make for tough chip shots.
The Scottsdale Silverado Golf Club suffers from its poor front nine. By the time the pace of play picks up and the course gets more enjoyable, it’s been almost 4 hours and you’re way past over it as a cold beer and hot wings sound increasingly more fun, especially during March Madness. There’s not really anything they can do about the kink in the front side that creates the logjams, but they can solve the slowdown at the turn. The tee boxes for #1 and #10 are about 2-3 minutes by cart from the clubhouse, also the only spot at the club to get food. While they try to speed it up by having you phone in your order, just throwing a charcoal grill out there would solve a lot of problems.
#18, Par 3, 157 yards, 12-handicap, My Score: 3
I normally don’t like finishing with a par 3, but this one works. It features another elevated tee to a tricky green and the wind can hit from any direction. The water is more decorative than anything to worry about on the scorecard, but sand traps guard a green that can offer a thousand different looks. With a couple mounds and a lot of total area, anything longer than 12 feet will break at least once and if you’re careless, 3-putts await. It is not the most difficult hole on the course and not too memorable as a finisher, but it does have the nicest view, with Camelback rising in the background and the clubhouse (and a cold beer) ready and waiting.
Amenities: D+; driving nets are not a good substitute for a range when warming up, and the clubhouse was awkward to get to from the course, they need another set of stairs. I did like all the MLB gear in the pro shop, and it seemed reasonably priced.
Difficulty: C-; a bit of touch on the greens will nullify the only aspect of this course that can be challenging.
Scenery: C+; the limited views of Camelback are nice, but mostly you’re just watching the other golfers wander around.
Value: C-; at $75 for a Saturday afternoon time from Golfnow, this place was probably $15 overpriced for the season. I would feel much better about the round if it had cost only about $40-50 instead.
Overall: 2.22 (C); worth a play if you can get a good rate and less traffic, a slow Tuesday afternoon would be ideal.