Experience Luxurious Desert Mountain and Desert Highlands in Scottsdale
By Chris Duthie
Growing up in Durango in the 1960s, well before Purgatory Ski Resort helped transform the region into a four-season Mecca, I remember how commonplace it was for locals to thumb their collective noses at Old Man Winter, pick up and live for months at a time among the ideal-weather environs of Arizona.
Indeed, avoiding winter’s traffic-snarling snows and frostbiting cold was (and still is) ample reason to head to the Grand Canyon State. But in the decades since — with the development and expansion of the state’s world-class outdoor recreation, events, festivals and natural attractions — it’s easy to see why living here seasonally has become an increasingly attractive standard.
That’s especially so in snowbird-favored Scottsdale, which has become synonymous for its plethora of private master-planned residential communities. Two that do it better than most are Desert Mountain and Desert Highlands, both of which were launched more than 30 years ago by visionary developer Lyle Anderson with golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus.
Since its opening in 1986, Desert Mountain has set the bar for living the upscale Arizona lifestyle. In addition to being the only club in the world with six Jack Nicklaus Signature golf courses, the 8,000-acre community features an under-construction par-3 course; tennis on clay, hard court and grass; a 42,600-square-foot fitness, tennis and spa center that recently underwent a $12 million renovation; and nine restaurants headed by Bertrand Bouquin, the former 12-year executive chef at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.
Residents also enjoy hiking, biking, running and walking on 15 miles of private trails that sit adjacent to the Tonto National Forest and the eastern slope of the Continental Mountains. Plus, its member services division is specifically tasked to arrange on-property four-wheeling, guided horseback rides and glamping (tents with running water, queen beds and wood floors), plus there are more than 30 social clubs that range from bridge and poker to motorcycling and gardening.
The appeal is considerable, but don’t take my word for it. Desert Mountain offers a Trial Preview Membership where a family can become Desert Mountain members for 30 days. Participants can rent a house on property and enjoy the same access and privileges as full golf members. If you decide to join, the $3,000 trial fee applies to your initiation deposit; if not, you’ve had a month of amazing golf, dining, spin classes, hikes and stargazing beneath the Sonoran Desert sky. For more information, visit desertmountain.com or call 480-595-4110.
Three decades have passed since 850-acre Desert Highlands opened its gates and hosted Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Gary Player in the first-ever televised Skins Games in 1983 and ’84. Yet the 850-acre luxury development, sited in the shadow of Pinnacle Peak, remains as intimate, prestigious and exceptional as ever.
Membership is exclusive and extraordinary. In addition to the 7,100-yard Nicklaus target golf course (Jack’s first-ever signature design, which included associate design input from future greats Jay Morrish and Bob Cupp), there is a Gary Panks-designed 18-hole putting course, 7,000-square-foot fitness center, stocked fishing lake, and a 13-court racquet club with clay, grass and hard surfaces.
Add to it an award-winning clubhouse with indoor and outdoor dining, plus an array of personal-interest clubs — think automobile, book, wine, alumni, etc. —that are facilitated through the Desert Highlands Concierge Connect program.
Memberships, which are $75,000 plus monthly dues of $1,225 that include HOA fees, are limited to homeowners. For more information, visit deserthighlandsscottsdale.com or call 480-419-3745 and ask about the value-added Residential Remodel Program.
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Chris Duthie is a Durango-based contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer. Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.