Grayhawk Golf Club - 36 Holes of Tour-Tested Golf
Grayhawk Golf Club opened for play in 1994, as the high-end daily fee, member-for-a-day movement hatched. Talon debuted first and Raptor took flight a year later. The timing couldn’t have been better. As the industry mobilized to meet swelling popularity, Grayhawk emerged with a unique, edgy golf experience driven by the type of service and conditions usually found at private clubs.
It all started for the public club with the first and only director of golf, Joe “Shoe” Shershenovich, although he’d be the first to divert credit to founders, Gregg Tryhus and Del Cochran.
“Gregg and Del sat down and thought about the things they would like in a club. They wanted a place that takes the game seriously, the lifestyle and service seriously, but have the freedom to create a very different experience,” said Shoe. “Hosting special events, and having fun doing it, also was a big part of the vision.”
They usually set up Raptor for championships, which makes the worn-out “championship course” cliché actually ring true in this case. They even “twisted the arm” of then ASU prodigy Phil Mickelson to become the club’s ambassador, and he still sports Grayhawk’s logo on his bag to this day.
The first professional tournament at Grayhawk, now known as the WGC-Dell Match Play, hosted 1995, 1997 and 1998, featured the likes of Greg Norman and Colin Montgomerie as champions. In 2000, Grayhawk hosted the predecessor of the Hero World Challenge; Tom Lehman won by three over David Duval, for those keeping score.
The 2004 and 2005 Tommy Bahama Challenges pitted Americans versus internationals “coached” by Gary McCord and David Feherty. Then from 2007 to 2009, the Frys.com Open came to Grayhawk, making Raptor the only course outside of TPC Scottsdale to host a PGA TOUR tournament. Most notably, 2003 Masters Champion, Mike Weir, won the first one.
Although the pros get most of the attention, Grayhawk supports amateur golf, too. For the next three years (’21-’23), Raptor will host the big dance – NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Golf Championship. And 60,000 boys and girls on teams spanning all 50 states make their way through local and regional qualifiers to compete in the PGA Jr League Championship.
“We’ve ended up covering a wide range,” said Shoe. “Youngsters could potentially play here at the PGA Jr League Championship, then the NCAAs and maybe even another PGA TOUR event someday.”
The innovation didn’t stop with the burly lineup of tournaments. The clubhouse itself – which opened alongside Raptor – raised eyebrows at the time, especially for an entirely public club. It’s a timber-beam, stacked-stone beauty with the Golf Shop and Trading Company as the pearl. Much more than a place to get a sleeve of balls, the keen and current style and eclectic offerings deliver a unique, pure-retail experience anyone can appreciate, even the most discerning guests.
Like the golf shop, the restaurants attract golfers and non-golfers alike. The innovative indoor-outdoor patios designed with the wonderful Scottsdale weather in mind are particularly appealing. The Quill Creek Café overlooks Raptor and the McDowell Mountains, ablaze every afternoon with the purple hues of sunset. Featuring similar views, Phil’s Grill is a comfortable sports pub with a collection of Lefty’s memorabilia on display: Ryder Cup gear; Sun Devils-era persimmon driver; Masters pin flags; and a Talon course-record scorecard, 61, with more circles than a bowl of Cheerios.
“F&B and retail used to be for practical stuff like golf balls or a quick bite to eat at the turn,” said Shoe. “We elevated both to enhance the golf experience. Coffee at Mojos, shopping, cold beer in Phil’s. You can make a day of it. Take it all in.”
Years after opening, things settled into a rhythm until Grayhawk kicked up a bunch of dust in 2012 with the opening of Isabella’s Kitchen just across Thompson Peak Parkway from the clubhouse. Fueled by the same indoor-outdoor living, the bar/restaurant/patio, which overlooks Talon, took off like a rocket on a slightly different trajectory than the clubhouse restaurants to become a North Scottsdale hotspot.
Shoe explained that the “greens are fast and hard” at Isabella’s Kitchen, while at the other end of the golf analogy, Quill Creek Café and Phil’s Grill offer a “tamer” ambiance. Just depends on the mood.
About the same time “Izzy’s” opened, Grayhawk launched the Morning Joint, a.k.a. “Mojo,” after converting a banquet room into a coffee shop. Part patio and part living room, it’s popular among golfers and locals alike.
As Shoe alluded, every round of golf at Grayhawk comes with a healthy side of the Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert lifestyle. Golf, shopping, dining or just hanging out at Mojo or Phil’s with family and friends: the Grayhawk experience has settled into the broader golf community for the last quarter century. At the same time hundreds of golf’s best competed for championships, hundreds of thousands of everyday golfers were also competing for pride. That’s the beauty of Grayhawk: It’s 36 holes of tour-tested golf are open to everyone.