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September 2019

Club Members Enhance Community Trails

By Scott Kauffman

Mark Twain is often quoted as saying, “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” If that’s the case, the quipster should have stepped foot on Desert Mountain.

Not only is the exclusive Scottsdale, Arizona, golf community the only place with six Jack Nicklaus Signature courses, the private club is about to open a new course aptly named Seven, making Desert Mountain the largest single private golf development in America. Then, to ensure there is never a “good walk spoiled” for members, the club features 15 miles of private walking trails.

Now, to make this natural amenity even more attractive, Desert Mountain is boosting the outdoor experience with a touch of newly installed cutting-edge technology for novice and expert hikers alike. The new digital Interactive Trail Guide – the brainchild of a group of members called The Desperados – is a rugged and weatherproof, 55-inch touch-screen monitor mounted at the trailhead that allows hikers to select a hike by distance, degree of difficulty or even based on best sunset views.

Once the hike is selected, a customized map is created and can be scanned onto the hiker’s mobile device. Twenty of the most common routes and accompanying GPS data are pre-loaded into the system to assist in selecting each person’s ideal hike. 

The sprawling 8,200-acre community was already home to an intricate private trail system on seven separate trail segments with members and guests totaling some 12,000 hikes each year. With the interactive new technology at their disposal, the club will likely be taking to the trails even more in the coming years.

 “When designing the guide, I felt like a kid in a candy shop because the technology, the richness of our trail data and the demands of our users allowed us to be the first of its kind to broadly offer such a tool,” said Desert Mountain member Craig Mitchell and one of The Desperados who raised the money to build the technology. 
In addition to trail-specific feedback, the new system also has the capability to check current weather, view an informative species guide for this scenic Sonoran Desert setting, scan interesting facts and recommend specific hikes. Photos submitted by members from recent trailhead events will also be on display as well as information about the Desperados. 

 “Today’s hiker, without ever having stepped a foot on our trails, is able to sort and choose the ideal hike based on either distance, time or elevation gain by using our digital guide,” added fellow Desperado Troy Gillenwater.

In some respects, Gillenwater says the new technology democratizes Desert Mountain’s trail system, making it perfect for the outdoor extraordinaire and/or first-timer.

“As a premier golf and outdoor recreation community, this type of technology and amenity is one the golf industry is just now starting to explore, and we have fully embraced,” said Desert Mountain chief executive officer Damon DiOrio, whose club has 1,900-plus golf members. “Early next year, Desert Mountain will serve as host to 50 golf club managers from around the country to showcase this and other outdoor amenities that are geared toward providing a variety of health and wellness opportunities for the golf enthusiast and their families.”  

Scott Kauffman is a golf business writer and the managing director of Aloha Media Group.

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September 2019 Issue
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