Scottsdale: A Golf Mecca
Scottsdale and golf became synonymous nearly 100 years ago as visitors chipped and putted from oiled dirt courses under towering Camelback Mountain. Celebrities like Bing Crosby followed shortly thereafter, paving the way for a golden era that heralded golf gods such as Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Today, Scottsdale has grown into an urban oasis and swung its way into the Golf Hall of Fame with 1,223 holes and 51 golf courses located within its city limits, and an additional 156 courses sprinkled across Scottsdale’s Valley of the Sun neighbors. Add that to an already award-winning equation of 72 hotels and resorts, 330-plus days of annual sunshine and a year-round median average temperature of 70 degrees, and it’s no wonder why Scottsdale is an unparalleled global golf destination.
SETTING THE STAGE
Few destinations can match the unique golf landscape found in Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert. Green fairways unfurl like lush carpets cushioning your ball’s path to the hole, while billion-year-old rock formations loom over tee boxes. Drives and approach shots sometimes cross arroyos, and you will certainly need to avoid towering saguaro cacti lining the fairways. As for the courses themselves? Five Scottsdale layouts appear on Golf Magazine’s 2016-17 Top 100 You Can Play in the U.S.: Troon North (Pinnacle) is the highest-ranked course, at No. 25; We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro) is No. 40: We-Ko-Pa (Cholla) is No. 46: Troon North (Monument) is No. 58: and Grayhawk (Talon) comes in at No. 99. The depth of quality is further on display in Golf Magazine’s 2016-17 Best Courses Near You — 14 Scottsdale courses appear in Arizona’s Top 30, including six of the top seven.
Everyone likes to play where the pros play. In Scottsdale, that means teeing off at TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course, host of the PGA TOUR’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. The venue draws international attention annually as more than 600,000 spectators flock to the tournament, including the 20,000 that ring the raucous 16th hole, which brings an atmosphere akin to a frat party. Seeing it on TV is one thing: being there in person is unforgettable. The under-the-radar TPC Scottsdale Champions Course is right across the street and good enough to host the final round of the Champions Tour Qualifying School every other year.
Then again, Scottsdale’s course options are endless. In search of memorable long-distance views of nearby mountains? Both courses at We-Ko-Pa meet the bill. Want to see where upscale daily-fee golf really took off in the 1990s? Then go to Troon North, where both the Monument and Pinnacle courses continue to set an elite standard. Looking for a rock’n’roll vibe across 36 stellar holes? The Talon and Raptor courses await you at Grayhawk Golf Club.
ON PAR RESORT TRACKS
Several of Scottsdale’s resorts boast impressive courses right outside their back door. Luxuriate at the newly renovated The Boulders Resort & Spa, home of two 18-hole golf courses surrounded by 200 million-year-old boulders. Embrace your inner child during a round at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, where you can play 27 holes while riding a Segway, GolfBoard or GolfBike. Stay and play at the historic JW Marriott Camelback Inn and Camelback Golf Club, home to the Ambiente and Padre courses. Revel in scenic views of Scottsdale as you climb the base of Camelback Mountain during a round at one of The Phoenician’s three nine-hole courses. In 2017, the brand new Mountain Shadows, a 183-room boutique property near the base of Camelback Mountain, will debut an 18 hole, all par-3 course.
Other can’t miss hotel and golf course pairings include the lavish Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, which backs right up against the TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course, while the We-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center and Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North are just short rides away from some of the best courses in America.
FINE TUNE YOUR GAME
Playing poorly on a golf trip means frustration, not fun. But a tip from one the country’s best instructors can make you king of the course. Scottsdale has more top-flight teachers than most states, including 14 of Golf Digest’s Top 20 Teachers in Arizona, and five of Golf Digest’s 50 Best Teachers in America. Take a private lesson with Scottsdale’s stable of talented instructors, like Stan Utley of Grayhawk Golf Club, Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott of Talking Stick Golf Club, Peter Kostis of Grayhawk Golf Club and Mike LaBauve of Kierland Golf Club.
Continue to fine-tune your game at Boccieri Golf, featuring one of only 15 Robo Golf Pros in the world. This state-of-the-art robotic trainer assists you in perfecting your stroke by demonstrating the perfect swing planes for your body type and physical abilities. Test your new and improved swing at TopGolf Scottsdale at Riverwalk, where you aim microchipped balls at targets on a driving range to determine the distance and accuracy of your swing.
A year-round lineup of live events in and near Scottsdale further reinforces the sports-loving reputation of the city. Golf fans flock to the aforementioned PGA TOUR’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, taking place Jan. 30-Feb. 5. But that is not the only sporting events Scottsdale has offer. Visit in March for 18 holes in the morning followed by an afternoon Cactus League Spring Training game at Scottsdale Stadium, home of the San Francisco Giants, or Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies. In fact, greater Scottsdale is home to 15 Major League Baseball teams during the month of March, including the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers. For more sports action, pair your golf getaway with the NCAA Final Four, which will take place in metro Phoenix in April 2017.
THE 19th HOLE
Rest assured that when you pack up your clubs for the day, Scottsdale will keep you entertained, no matter if you’re looking for a relaxing post-golf massage or a night of club hopping.
Rejuvenate your sore muscles at one of Scottsdale’s award-winning spas, such as the spa at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. The spa’s Golf Specialty Massage includes heated golf balls — really — to ease tension created by too many bogeys. Improve your balance and swing rotation with the Golf Performance Massage at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Well & Being Spa, or increase your flexibility with a Clinical Sports Massage at The Phoenician’s Centre for Well-Being.
With more than 800 restaurants in Scottsdale, the dining options are varied and magnificent. Superb steaks can be found at Don & Charlie’s, The Capital Grille, J&G Steakhouse at The Phoenician, Mastro’s Ocean Club, Dominick’s Steakhouse and Bourbon Steak at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. Get a taste of Latin flair on the menus at Deseo at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa and Spotted Donkey Cantina at The Boulders Resort & Spa. All-American fare in a casual setting is the hallmark at Grayhawk Golf Club, where Phil’s Grill and Isabella’s Kitchen are popular with golfers and locals alike. If washing down wood-fired pizza with some craft beer is your post-round habit, then head to Craft 64 in downtown Scottsdale or sip on an avocado margarita at The Mission.
Stay & Play in the World’s Finest Golf Destination
End the evening with a nightcap at Second Story Liquor Bar or Citizen Public House, or visit Scottsdale’s nightlife district in the heart of downtown. Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, The District and Wasted Grain are just a few nightlife options that will elevate your golf getaway from traditional to extraordinary.