The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa

By David R. Holland

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — It’s a scene repeated daily on the target-style desert courses in Arizona.

A high-handicapper addresses his ball, knees are wobbly as he peers at the 185-yard forced carry over a natural desert dry wash filled with rocks, cactus, hiding places for rattlesnakes and the spiny-branched ocotillo.

He swings and immediately reaches in his back pocket.


Frustrated reloaders will smile more at Kierland Golf Club. It’s traditional, minus forced carries, player friendly, has immaculate conditions and challenging holes with sweeping views of Mummy Mountain, Camelback Mountain, Pinnacle Peak and the McDowells give the layout an attractive panorama.

Today, the landscape is even more 21st century. A huge 300-foot HDTV named Skyview greets patio visitors and golfers playing holes that are in front of the 750-room hotel. 

But “fun” concepts are everywhere, including an incredible Lazy River complex for the kids and the golf club’s introduction of several ways to experience the 27 holes.

Kierland Golf Club Introduces TurfRiders  and The Shark Experience

Kierland’s TurfRiders join a fleet of unique golf vehicles. Segway Golf came in 2002 and now you can try golf bikes, GolfBoards, and four-seater golf carts.

TurfRiders have golf bags situated at the back of two-wheel scooters, and golfers can cruise the course both on and off the cart path, thanks to their light weight and large, turf-friendly tires that create no damage to the fairways. In addition to adding fun to the game, the battery-powered scooters also add speed with an 18 mph setting recommended for getting around the course and climbing most hills.

Nancy Dickens, Director of Golf at The Westin Kierland Golf Club, said the addition of the scooters to the fleet rounds out its “quartet” of fun: “The scooters provide a fun, exhilarating golf experience. They are easy to ride but something most golfers have never experienced,” she said. “They continue our tradition of creating a unique and different golf experience at Kierland.”

And how about The Shark Experience? “For the past four years I’ve been working on something called the Shark Experience,” Greg Norman explained. “Club Car is building 50,000 carts with Bluetooth-enabled screens that can stream music, sports, news – whatever applications the world can imagine – through speakers designed, by the shape of the cone and its angle of mounting, to keep the sound within the cart. To grow golf in these times you need to give people the choice of staying connected.”

The Golf Experience

Scott Miller, formerly a senior designer for Jack Nicklaus, designed the three nine-hole layouts — Mesquite, Acacia and Ironwood. They are named for the trees that decorate Kierland. There a few forced carries and none you can’t master. Miller designed many of the America’s finest courses including Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course in Idaho and We-Ko-Pa Golf Club in Arizona.

Most agree that the Acacia-Ironwood nines are the best 18-hole combination at Kierland. Acacia’s strength is its elevation differences, while Ironwood is dotted with lots of tall grasses and water features. The Mesquite nine is pretty much straightforward, but all three have interesting and challenging finishing holes.

“Kierland is my favorite layout in the Valley,” said John Harkins of Phoenix. “Conditions are great all the time. The service is superb, you can hit all the warm-up balls you want and it is not target golf. You can play without losing a dozen golf balls. I like that the most.”

It is managed by Troon Golf, the best management company in the business. Ironwood’s signature No. 9 is a possible eagle par 5. It’s only 495 yards from the back, but water travels the entire right side You will have to negotiate a huge trap that crosses the fairway 100 yards out, but most solid drivers of the ball can reach the green in two.

Acacia’s finishing hole has a backdrop of the new hotel, a downhill tee shot with a lake left and hilly slope bordering the right fairway boundary. It’s 531 yards from the back and has a two-tiered green.

Mesquite’s No. 9 is 427 yards from the back, a par 4, and is fronted by a large lake carry on the approach with six sand traps guarding the front entrance to a diagonally-placed putting surface.

Dickens, who began her career as a superintendent, says the most challenging part of scoring here are the swales that sometimes engulf the putting surfaces. “I encourage golfers to putt from the swales, but the bunkers can be tough, too.”

And she like to say that 17 acres of turf were removed from behind greens in 2013 and 12 more acres since then making Kierland a steward of the environment.

Acacia’s finishing hole has a backdrop of the hotel, a downhill tee shot with a lake left and hilly slope bordering the right fairway boundary. It’s 531 yards from the back and has a two-tiered green.

Mesquite’s No. 9 is 427 yards from the back, a par 4, and is fronted by a large lake carry on the approach with six sand traps guarding the front entrance to a diagonally-placed putting surface.

The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in a Word: Awesome

You want packages?  Well, Westin Kierland has many to pick from — Golf Escape Package, Hit the Links Golf Package, Agave Spa Soothe Package, Stay 3 Nights, Get 4th Night Free, 5th Night Free and $100 Resort Credit, “Bundle of Joy” Babymoon and “Indulge” Romance Package.

You’ve always envisioned your vacation to be perfect on every level, but never imagined a staff so accommodating and facilities so revitalizing and distinctively different. That is The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa experience. So come, wander the grounds of this desert oasis. Leave behind your hectic lifestyle to relax and renew.

The AAA Four Diamond Resort features accommodations that will sooth and stimulate from a full-service spa and world-class golf to award-winning dining and upscale shopping. Intuitively designed to celebrate Arizona’s rich history and diverse culture, The Westin Kierland offers a sanctuary of opportunity and ambiance.

The Resort pays tribute to the state’s Scottish immigrants each evening with its “Scottish Pipes at Sunset” series. Guests are encouraged to gather around the fire pit at the Dreamweavers Canyon to enjoy the Scottish bagpipes played by Master Bagpiper Michael McClanathan.

As you explore the Resort, you will find details of Arizona’s rich history and those who had an important role in shaping it. Discovery Hall, Expedition Hall and Visionaries Hall are named as such to honor those who created the Essence of Arizona, from river explorers such as John Wesley Powell to Native American tribal chiefs and heads of state. With these efforts, we hope to carry on the spirit of those who came before us – visionaries who made Arizona what it is today.

Your kids are gonna love this

One of the Resort’s biggest attractions is its Adventure Water Park, which offers a 900-foot lazy river ride, a 110-foot waterslide and our very own Kierland FlowRider. Rent a family-friendly poolside cabana to relax in shaded luxury or soak in one of our two hot tubs.

Also check out the adult pool, Aguamiel, Kierland FlowRider, The OK Corral, and Dreamweaver’s Canyon.


I picked deseo – meaning desire in Spanish – showcases Contemporary Latin cuisine, a pairing of traditional Latin American ingredients and contemporary culinary style to create unique, fresh and flavorful dishes that include a range of mouthwatering ceviches, grilled and roasted fish and shellfish, and a selection of skillfully prepared meats all with tantalizing South American-inspired marinades, sauces and sides. Complementing the menu is deseo’s extensive list of South American wines.

At the heart of deseo lies “The Rail” which holds the 12 best seats in the house. Guests are invited to sit at The Rail and overlook the open kitchen while chefs prepare intricate ceviche dishes and delectable desserts.

A day at Westin Kierland can be exhaustive. So when you get in to the Heavenly Bed waiting for you in your spacious room there will be plenty to dream about.


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