It’s winter and there is a blizzard raging outside but you really want to golf.
What do you do?
You do what any intelligent enthusiast would do.
You take a two-week vacation and buy a ticket to Phoenix, where you are guaranteed to enjoy fun under the sun on a bevy of top-notch golf courses designed by the greatest golfers and architects.
There is just no better place in the continental United States to hit the links in winter.
The Valley of the Sun
Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa and a cluster of smaller communities in central Arizona make up the Valley of the Sun, the golf capital of the American Southwest. With nearly 200 golf courses within a 50-mile (80km) radius, the valley has the most abundant golfing options in the United States.
Millions of golfers from harsh winter climates make their way to Arizona each year for it’s warm winter weather and seemingly endless sunny days.
Credit: Stacey Huggins
Where to Go?
Scottsdale is the ideal place to stay while you make your golf forays into the valley, and not just because of its central location. The city has five championship courses with luxury resorts on them plus several more stand-alone courses that should not be missed. Troon North (Monument and Pinnacle), Kierland, Phoenician, Boulders, Wildfire, Eagle Mountain, Grayhawk and Sunridge Canyon are a must.
Phoenix has a nice mix of municipal links for the budget-minded as well as the time-honored golf resorts of Camelback Inn and the Arizona Biltmore, two of the state’s most respected courses. The Legacy Golf Resort offers impeccable golf, as well as a really good pampering when the day is done.
For the best value golf, head to the northwest where courses designed by some of the best in the business are all but forgotten. Palm Valley, Dove Valley Ranch, Estrella Mountain Ranch are all a delight. The Wigwam Golf Resort and Spa is not cheap, but may be the most diverse club in Arizona.
Mesa and Chandler have their fair share of excellent courses, too. Superstition Springs, with its 7,000 yards (6400m) of tough desert play, and Ocotilla, with water hazards on every hole, provide challenging and rewarding golf. Gold Canyon and Las Sendas set the standard in the area for high-class golf.
Things to Remember
You are in the desert with a strong sun, sharp-spiked cactus and poisonous creatures. The element of danger here is not just water and sand; there are several things that can kill you, though you are more likely to get struck by lightning. Just stay on course and enjoy the round.
Where ever you go, you will find the beauty of perfectly manicured fairways and fast green, as well as breathtaking mountain scenery. Make sure to take plenty of pictures, you will want to brag about it to your frozen friends back home.
When To Go
The best time to golf in Arizona is during the winter when it is snowing or raining everywhere else.
Phoenix has a subtropical desert climate with extremely hot summers and warm winters. The average temperature in winter is 56°F (13°C) with an average high of 67°F (19°C) and low of 46°F (8°C). Rainfall is very rare during winter.
Getting There & Around
Phoenix is located in central Arizona.
The best way to get there is to fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport located 6.6 miles (10.6km) from the city center.
The best way to get around is by rental car.
- Mid-range accommodations: $75-125
- Meals: $10-20
- Bottle of beer: $2
- Golf: $50-150
- Note that if you hit a ball into a desert area it’s similar to a water hazard.
- Bring your own water as the desert climate can get unbearable and it’s easy to get dehydrated.
- Ask for discounts if you’re planning on playing more than 18 holes or are a senior. Also, if you book online you might get an additional discount.
- Wear metal spikes or denim and make sure to wear a collared shirt.
- Drive golf carts into the desert or off the course.
- Forget sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. The sun can be brutal.
- Come in the summer. The desert heat will cook you in minutes.
- In 1899, the first golf course opened in Arizona at the Phoenix Golf Club.
- A standard golf ball contains 336 dimples.
- The age of the saguaro cactus (found in Arizona) is determined by its height.
Feature Image Credit: seantoyer