Club Spotlight: Desert Highlands

Platinum Clubs® of America – Club Spotlight

Desert Highlands

A Platinum Club of America since 1997 and a Platinum Club of the World since 2015

THE LUSH SONORAN DESERT surrounding Phoenix, Arizona was hardly at the top of the list to build a golf course in the late 20th century. That all changed on a spring day in 1980 when golf legend Jack Nicklaus stood at the southern base of Pinnacle Peak and made a commitment to design a championship track where no one had done it before.

“If you let me do this,” he said to developer Lyle Anderson, “it will be the finest golf course in the Southwest.” At that moment, the vision of a luxury community built around the nucleus of a country club was on its way to becoming a reality.

Fast forward to 2017—the wild landscape that provided such inspiration has become world-renowned as a premier private residential club. In addition to the Jack Nicklaus Signature course, members at Desert Highlands enjoy an 18-hole Gary Fall 2017 | Club Leaders Forum 35 Panks-designed putting course (the first putting course built in the US, second in the world); a robust tennis program with first-class facilities including a racquet club, four grass courts, six clay courts, and three hard courts; a 7,000-square-foot Fitness Center; and a world-class clubhouse that underwent a multi-million dollar renovation in 2013.

The club’s locale, Scottsdale, requires residentially zoned areas to preserve the natural environment and maintain the native desert within strict regulations. As a result, the 850 acres on which Desert Highlands sits is also home to native fauna such as javelina, bobcats, several species of reptiles and birds, coyotes, mule deer and mountain lions.

Being recognized as a Platinum Club of America in the program’s inaugural year was an immense honor for the members and staff of Desert Highlands, and maintaining that status for 20 years has resulted in the permeation of the “Platinum” distinction into all levels of the club’s operations. The criteria on which Platinum Clubs are judged serve as the foundation for the Club Governance, and are incorporated into the strategic initiatives for the Board of Directors and staff. The title is also part of the club’s cultural identity; “Platinum” is used to describe the elite level of services and programs provided at the club, from golf instruction to the new private label Desert Highlands Platinum vodka that debuted in the fall of 2017.

Desert Highlands continues to be considered one of the eminent courses and clubs in the world. Though what makes this club truly special is its ingrained sense of community. The staff motto, “A Family Serving a Family,” was derived from the long-standing practices of staff going beyond the industry standard of exceptional service. Terra S.H. Waldron, VP/COO, is at the helm of this extraordinary operation and her 14 direct reports have a combined 250 years of high-end club experience. Because the Club and HOA are one in the same, Desert Highlands is more than a country club for recreation and entertainment, to its nearly 1,000 members, it is home.

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