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Thinking of taking a golf junket to the Scottsdale area, but apprehensive about how brutal you've heard desert golf can be? No worries if you make Legend Trail your first stop! For one, this place is a stark contrast to many of the severe layouts in the area. Architect Rees Jones has provided comparatively generous fairways free of demoralizing cross bunkers. Fairway traps are set up parallel to the line of flight and with the exception of holes 11 and 12, there are no blind shots or long forced carries. The white tees are very playable at 6400 yards and, thanks to the management oversight of Troon Golf, you can bank on superb course conditioning and all around service.

You'll find the course itself is well into the gorgeous category even though surrounding houses have taken over and do compromise overall aesthetics. But none are actually in play and their exteriors obey a generally subdued palate of colors.

Perhaps the even greater appeal of Legend Trail is that it provides home turf for one of the Golf Digest School Learning Centers. Adjacent to and in partnership with the course, this facility provides a double-tiered range, two practice greens, full swing video analysis, and a professional staff that specializes in individual, results-oriented instruction in all aspects of the game for all levels of ability. Their packages seem to provide nothing short of a golf fantasy camp experience where an individual player receives all the professional attention he or she wants. I enjoyed a brief sampling of the experience, and though I am not a stranger to golf instruction, it was impressive to get the instant help my swing needed on that day. Specialty classes in skills such as shotmaking, course management, and the mental game are also offered. Combining the Learning Center experience with the splendors of desert golf at Legend Trail could make for a rewarding golf holiday indeed.

Legend Trail green fees range seasonally from $70-183, yardages from 5729-7310, and slopes from 123-137. The Learning Center offers 2 and 3 full-day sessions (including lunch and play time at Legend Trail) for $699 and $999, respectively. Mini-sessions and packages that include lodging are also available.

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