Appeared in September/October 2004 LINKS
Over by the putting green, Gary Player and Phil Mickelson smile at some inside joke while Billy Mayfair rolls in another 10-footer with that unique cut stroke of his. On the range, Peter Kostis watches intently as Tim Herron and young gun Ricky Barnes hit balls. Aaron Baddeley, Geoff Ogilvy and Paul Casey walk off the 18th green with their caddies. The mood is relaxed and upbeat; good-natured banter fills the air.
The scene could be a practice round at any event on the PGA Tour, but it's a normal Wednesday morning at Whisper Rock Golf Club. While the best-known tour hangouts are Orlando's Isleworth (Tiger Woods, Stuart Appleby, Charles Howell III) and Lake Nona (Ernie Els, Justin Rose, Retief Goosen), Whisper Rock could give either club a heck of a competition in a team match.
And it probably does both clubs one better in the quality of the golf. For one, Whisper Rock has two courses: Tom Fazio's Upper and Mickelson's design debut, the Lower. The hard part at Whisper Rock, besides winning the club championship, is deciding which course to play.
With lots of room off the tee, shallow bunkers, modest rough, the option to putt from off the green and 17 putting surfaces that have some sort of opening in front, the Lower course is plenty playable for conservative golfers. For the accomplished golfer aggressively trying to go low, it's extremely challenging. Approach shots must be struck with precision and played from the correct angle if you want a reasonable putt for birdie.
The Upper course is visually spectacular. The property is among the most dramatic terrain in Scottsdale. It rises and falls among incredible rock formations and granite spires, with stunning vistas of the surrounding Sonoran Desert.
Fazio’s challenge was to coax the best 18 holes possible from this severe terrain to test the club's more than 200 single-digit-handicap members. Says club president Gregg Tryhus, "We've got a lot of good players out here who were looking for great golf that you can play in a powerful way."