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Desert Son

David Lauridsen Desert Son

Photo: David Lauridsen

Lots of pro golfers make their home in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area—the so-called Valley of the Sun—but very few can call themselves natives. Billy Mayfair is the exception. The sandy-haired forty-one-year-old grew up in Phoenix, attended Arizona State University in neighboring Tempe and now lives in Scottsdale. A steady player who’s won five PGA Tour events as well as the U.S. Amateur, Mayfair is also a cancer survivor. Two weeks after undergoing surgery in August 2006, he competed in the PGA at Medinah, to resounding applause. At home in the desert, here are some of his favorite spots. —Paul Rogers

What’s your home course?

Whisper Rock Golf Club, which actually has two courses. On the Lower Course (codesigned by Phil Mickelson), what I really enjoy is how close each green is to the next tee. A lot of desert courses are so spread out. It’s wonderful to have one you can walk.

What are your favorite public courses?

Troon North has two outstanding eighteens. Everyone who comes to town and plays there seems to say it’s their favorite experience. Another jewel is Papago Golf Course, a Phoenix muni where I grew up playing. It may not be as well kept as the resort courses, but it is a true golfer’s test.

Where are people most likely to run into Tour pros?

Out at the TPC of Scottsdale. On any given day, players from all the tours—PGA, LPGA, Champions and Nationwide—will be hitting balls on the practice range.

Can you offer Any tips on playing desert golf?

Always keep in mind that there’s a lot more grass out there than it appears. And though it’s easier said than done, don’t hit it in the cactus. The jumping cholla really do jump. Just ask Ernie Els—he ran into one years back at the Anderson Consulting World Championship of Golf.

What’s the best sports bar?

I’m not a big drinker, and when I’m home I watch all sports with my son, Max. But I know the Fox Sports Grill is a great place—many TVs and plenty of good munchies.

What’s your favorite part of town?

I love downtown Old Scottsdale on Fifth Avenue. There’s so much change going on around town, but this neighborhood feels authentic and Western.

Where do you eat out?

For a fancy meal, my fiancée, Tami, and I enjoy Mastro’s Ocean Club and Morton’s Steakhouse. But we really are more down-home people. Our favorite Mexican place is Jalapeño Inferno.

Can you recommend a nongolf activity?

Sedona makes for a great day trip. Two hours from Phoenix by car. It’s a place of peace and wonder, with the most fabulous colors and views. On the other end of the spectrum, I love the month of March, when spring training is in town. Hot dogs, peanuts and baseball—great day!

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