Private Scottsdale courses you can play, but should you?

There's always plenty of interest in Scottsdale golf vacations, but seeing the "enthusiastic" galleries and party-like scene of this week's Phoenix Open usually cranks things up.

So, in case you, too, have plans to visit the Valley of the Sun, I thought I'd tip you off about a couple previously private courses that are now available to you.

Now, you may have heard about these courses in other golf articles, but I'm not merely going to tell you their names and that you can play them.

I'm going to tell you whether you should.

The courses I'm talking about are Prospector and Lost Gold, the two, 18-hole, Jack Nicklaus layouts at Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club.

Completely private since they opened in 1998 and 1999, about 18 months ago they began allowing public play on one of the courses each day (after the first 90 minutes of member tee times) to generate additional revenue and expose the club to potential new members.

So, should you take advantage of this opportunity?

The short answers is yes...with a few caveats.

First, you should know that Superstition Mountain is remote relative to the other Scottsdale golf courses you might play.

It's about 35 miles east of the airport, whereas most others are north of it.

That said, it's mostly highway driving and anyone who's been to the area for golf vacation knows that spending a lot of time in the car is part of the drill.

Second, don't expect hole after hole of jaw-dropping moments. The experience here is traditional, no-gimmick golf.

No funky layup shots common at target-style courses, no huge boulders in the fairways; no artificial waterfalls or fountains. Just fun, pure golf tests on two meticulously maintained, scenic layouts.

And although the routings weave through a well-to-do residential development, houses never crowd the playing fields and blend in nicely with the surroundings.

Unfortunately, the club doesn't allow guests to play both courses on the same day, so you'll probably wind up choosing one or the other.

Prospector, which hosted the Champions Tour in 2002 and the LPGA Tour from 2004 to 2008, is the tighter of the two layouts and it brings the desert more readily into play. Its greens are also faster, but less undulating than Lost Gold's.

Lost Gold, which hosted the 2002 Senior Slam, is the more player-friendly layout and features gaping fairways so wide they're hard to miss. Throughout the round, you must carry a bit of desert off the tee, but if you play from the appropriate markers, it's a non-factor.

Finally, keep in mind that the club takes its pace of play very seriously and enforces it with diligent rangers. If you don't like the idea of being on the clock when you're on vacation, there are better options.

Superstition Mountain's green fees aren't inexpensive, but they are reasonable for the quality of the experience in Scottsdale.

The truth is, you can't go wrong by playing either of its courses, and since the time may come when Superstition Mountain returns to exclusive, private status, you should enjoy them while you can.

Have you played Superstition Mountain? Have a short list of your favorite Scottsdale golf courses? Please share your comments below.

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine, USAToday.com, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
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Private Scottsdale courses you can play, but should you?
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