Hot Golf Times In Scottsdale (And Phoenix)

Winter Is Wonderful, But It Rocks Year-Round

scottsdale troon north


You don’t have to come during the pleasantly insane week of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, unless you’re a glutton for round-the-clock drinking and carousing (sounds good on paper!).

But if you do, book a lovely room at the adjacent Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and walk to and from the tournament at TPC Scottsdale. No need to rent a car, just Uber round-trip from Sky Harbor and eat, drink and scream bloody murder at your favorite golfers from the infamous 16th hole grandstand. You’ve got to try it at least once or forever hold your peace.

P.S., the Champions Course next door is also a strategic gem, featuring Emerald Green tee boxes and greens. It’s a great test and a beautiful setting to boot. For a savory dessert? Dinner at Fairmont’s La Hacienda – try the short rib barbacoa or prime rib tacos for a high-end Mexican fiesta. Follow that with the weekend brunch at Toro, where a Salty Iguana Green Bloody (Mary) will cure what ails you on the golf course.

And of course, you don’t want to just experience the thrills and spills of the game second-hand, and the options for golf here are virtually limitless – from high-end daily fee masterpieces to notable public layouts that probably shame your local muni.

Yep, we’re talking about Papago Golf Course, a city of Phoenix-owned Billy Bell gem that has weathered the ravages of time quite well and then some. Tree-framed fairways are surrounded by desert rock formations and stellar views, all on a playable, and eminently walkable, hunk of desert. It’s a quick 15-minute jaunt from the airport, priced reasonably and ably managed by Phoenix legend Daryl Crawford, a great guy on and off the Bermuda grass.

Down the road a piece in Scottsdale proper is a near quantum leap forward golf-wise, the serenely beautiful 36-hole challenge called Grayhawk Golf Club.

We played the Raptor eighteen this time around, a Tom Fazio-designed track sporting gentle elevation changes, large undulating greens and tightly mown, grass collection areas that make you wish you’d spent more time practicing your short game. Endless Sonoran Desert views abound, as well as a major skills challenge – the Open hosted the big boys back in the day before moving to Northern California.

scottsdale wm open
The Waste Management Phoenix Open turns TPC Scottsdale into golf’s version of the Super Bowl every winter.

Also, the wiser locals sometimes skip golf and head straight to Phil’s Grill (yes, that Phil) for craft cocktails and some mighty tasty chicken and Hatch chile enchiladas. Muy bueno.

The good stuff just keeps getting better in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area – as evidenced by recent bunker renovation work at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes in Maricopa, down the road from the resort/casino of the same name. A Troon-managed gem, this Curley/Couples desert design has hosted the U.S. Open Qualifying meet and loads of collegiate tournaments. The player-friendly 36 holes at the Westin Kierland resort also had recent bunker updates, and is even more fun on a GolfBoard.

scottsdale fairmont
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

The Phoenician Golf Club in Scottsdale has also undergone a massive makeover. What was formerly a 27-hole complex is now a naturally-flowing 18-hole design, with new greens, tees, fairways and bunker shaping, nicely accentuating the beauty and calm of the surrounding Sonoran desert.

If you really want to go in style, bunk in at the Canyon Suites, where Italian linens and great breakfast buffets are included – they’ll even loan you a sweet-sounding Taylor guitar for the night in case musical inspiration strikes. Motel 6 won’t even lend you a kazoo, as far as we know.

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