Talking Stick Golf Club - North Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 8.6

Golf - Public Course · 36 Holes · Par 70
Scottsdale, AZ
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Talking Stick Golf Club - North Course Review

Review & Ratins of Talking Stick North Course in Scottsdale

Talking Stick Golf Club is home to two championship 18 hole courses - North and South.  The Golf Club is owned by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and Arnold Palmer Golf Management operates both golf courses in the true spirit of Arnold Palmer – with pride, consideration and honor.  And from our perspective they do an excellent job - the course is in near perfect condition and very well maintained.

Each of the 18s at Talking Stick has it's own personality and unique playing characteristics.  According to Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the designers, "Talking Stick Golf Club’s North Course, with its broad, angular holes, rewards thoughtful play through the rise of its many options according to one’s level of skill. Its low profile, slightly crowned greens and close-cropped approaches encourage running as well as aerial assaults.  The South Course with its tree lined fairways and raised greens defended at the sides offers a more straightforward style of play. It presents its challenge and strategy in an open and clear-cut fashion."  Crenshaw and Coore sculpted the course out of the flat desert sandy terrain with scrub trees and brush, lots of wild life (coyotes, ground squirrels, road runners, and more), and no homes.

Some of the awards and accolades include:

  • Golfweek Magazine listed Talking Stick as: the #1 Public Golf Course; Best Casino Golf Course; Top 100 Modern Courses; and #11 Best Courses You Can Play in Arizona
  • Golf Digest gave both 18s 4.5 stars
  • Golf & Travel Magazine rated Talking Stick in the Nations Top 40 Courses You Can Play

The North Course is a links style design with huge wide open fairways and big greens and it's longer and a tad harder than the South Course which is a traditional tree lined course.  The McDowell Mountains provide a beautiful background frame for the course.  The North Course is a par 70 with 2 par 5s, 4 par 3s, and 12 par 4s and 3 sets of tee boxes ranging from 5532 to 7133 yard plus a combo yardage of 5945.  

The front nine of Talking Stick Golf Club is your opportunity to warm up, relax, enjoy your round, and end the nine with a good score.  Most of the homes are straight ahead of the tee box and you can see what you're up against - which is some huge natural and sand bunkers.  The fairways are flat which gives you some extra roll, the fairway landing zones off the tee box are huge, and the greens are flat to a small false front (great for a bump and run) and putting surface is typically relatively flat but with subtle breaks.  That said, you need to avoid the bunkers and stay in the fairway.  A couple of the holes that we liked on this nine included:

  • #3 a 450 yard par 4 with a string of 8 bunkers lining the fairway in you landing zone off the tee and 5 more bunkers between there and the green which has 3 of the 5 gurading it
  • #5 is a 391 yard par 4 with a deep bunker splitting the fairway at 150 yards from the green which is gently raised and surrounded by bunkers left, right, and front - a natural sand area lines the entire right side from tee to green

The back nine on Talking Stick's North Course has some roller coaster fairways, better variety, some very interesting holes, and greens that are much tougher than the front thanks to severe contour (like a roller coaster around the fringe and some steep slope).  Some of the holes that we really liked on the North Course include:

  • #12 is 392 yards (#2 handicap) with a great risk reward opportunity off the tee box thanks to a dry pond area - you can try to fly the pond and nail a small fairway in front of the green or bite off as much of the pond as you feel comfortable and land on a large fairway but then you have a very tough approach over a dry gully in front of the green with no room for error
  • #13 is another risk reward opportunity to try and fly more of the long natural sand bunker to get closer to the green or play safe and left to a wide landing area and the green is a big sloping surface with a roller coaster ride around the edge
  • #18 is a great finishing hole with a big landing zone for your tee shot (you've got to miss two big bunkers and a green set off to the left with a big natural area and 3 bunkers

Talking Stick's North Course is home to huge greens (27 to 41 yards deep and 18 to 31 yards wide) that range from flat with subtle breaks to steep slope, ridges, and lots of contour.  Bunkers around the greens put a premium on your approach shots and the normal speed of around 12 can make putting a tad difficult.  The greens were in excellent condition, a little firm, and ran true.  A joy to putt.

The bunkers at Talking Stick help define the course and make it challenging.  Most of the bunkers are huge, steep and deep.  The sand varied from thin to thick and deep and fluffy.  In addition to the traps you'll need to stay out of the natural sand bunkers and the dessert sand and sage.

The fairways are very generous off the tee at the North Course of Talking Stick and they were in excellent condition when we played.  The front fairways are mostly flat while the back has some fairways with lots of contour.  The is no rough - the fairways end in the desert's natural sand and scrub brush.

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Blue 6,510 69.7 120
White 5,945 66.4 115
Gold 7,133 72.7 125
Red 5,532 70.2 116

Course Information

Course Architect:
Bill Coore / Ben Crenshaw
Greens Type:
mini verde
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Beware of water on 0 holes and the sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
8.6 out of 10
Fun to Play:
Front Nine Rating:
Back Nine Rating:


Approximate Weekend
$80.00 to $150.00

Service is ok, the pro shop is well stocked with everything you need, the grill is good, and the practice facilities are more than adequate. The nearby Talking Stick Casino & Spa has a good Stay & Play



Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.