Grayhawk Golf Club has been the home many prestigious events including the PGA’s Waste Management Open and the Anderson Consulting Match Play and will be the site of the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Championships from 2020 through 2022. The Raptor and the Talon Courses, laid out in the flat terrain of the Sonoran Desert with the stunning backdrop of the McDowell Mountains in the distance, are the epitome of desert golf in the American Southwest.
The Talon Course, a Gary Panks/David Graham creation from the 1990’s, gives you are particular narrow driving theater on almost every hole. Many drives are over sand and scrub which mask the landing area of your tee balls and the adjacent desert in it’s natural state obviates the need for rough at all. Get yourself a yardage book in the golf shop, you are going to need some corroborating visuals to find you way around here. (You can get a printable PDF of the hole-by-hole descriptions through the link at the end of this posting).
To me this makes for corridor golf so you must control your driving and approach lines to stay out of the snake and scorpion retreats. The tightness of the track and the unrelenting penalty of the desert’s encroachment make a good medal score hard to come by. Make sure you set up a match with your buds if you want to enjoy this golf experience.
The back nine in particular wends around and through a series of canyons making for unexpected elevation changes and severe drop-offs into sand wilderness for wayward shots. The sprawling fairway and greenside bunkering works well with the desert scrub helping to define the strategic lines of the holes. These bunkers present some intimidating challenges but with careful planning it is possible to negotiate your way about relatively unfettered. The bunkers are deep with ash tray sand but very playable to a normal escape if you avoid the bad thoughts.
Green complexes throughout the course are very varied and make for some significant tactical choices on approach lines. Many of them are large, multi-tiered surfaces set in a dell depression for effect. There are considerable short grass scapes adjacent to these putting surfaces so your pitch and run save game will get a good workout today. The scale of the green complexes puts an onus on making approaches into the flag section of the day or you will be constantly battling to avoid the three putts.
Talon’s most memorable feature is the combination of the natural desert floral set against the backdrop of the towering grey mountains in the distance. Often times through the round you will find it hard to concentrate on a target dwarfed by the scale of the back drop. Bring your camera for the Kodak moments-some of your most lasting memories of the day will be in those landscapes.
Architects: Gary Panks/David Graham ( 1994)
Par Rating Slope Yardage
Talon 72 73.3 146 6973
Palo Verde 72 70.8 134 6430
Terra Cotta 72 68.3 122 5867
Heather 72 69.3 118 5143
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