When planning a golf holiday to Arizona, you are faced with a dilemma in deciding which golf courses to play. In Scottsdale alone there are 51 golf courses within the city and over 200 in the surrounding area.
When planning a golf holiday to Arizona, you are faced with a dilemma in deciding which golf courses to play.
In Scottsdale alone there are 51 golf courses within the city and over 200 in the surrounding area. They’re all pretty decent with an assortment of private, public, family-friendly and beginner courses that offer competitive green fees.
WHERE TO PLAY AND STAY
Lookout Mountain Golf Club
In the heart of the city, just 11 miles from downtown Phoenix is Lookout Mountain Golf Club part of the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort. This quirky course, one of the oldest in Arizona, is set in rugged terrain among the North Phoenix Mountains. It’s not the quietest course, but it’s interesting and there are plenty of elevation changes, particularly from the 7th hole onwards where the surrounding homes get bigger and better too. Views of the city, Sonoran Desert and Piestewa Peak are spectacular and are best appreciated on the 10th tee, a hole that’s aptly named Picturesque Pointe. There are four tee boxes, but at 4,521 yards from the forward tees, it’s a short course, although nevertheless you have to be accurate to score well as it’s a fairly tight layout.
Cambelback Golf Club
There are two golf courses: the Padre that is a parkland course and recommended for a more leisurely round and the Ambiente, one of the newest redesigns in North America. Ambiente, formerly known as Indian Bend, has been completely renovated and unlike the rugged terrain of many desert courses, this one shows a softer side with native grass and rolling fairways to give it a links-style feel. The greens are definitely not a soft touch as they’re fast and play havoc with your mind. There’s plenty to observe from the course including multi-million dollar homes and fabulous views that were recently revealed during the renovation process when almost 700 trees were removed.
Las Sendas Golf Club
Unlike Ambiente, Las Sendas Golf Club in Mesa, a suburb about 20 miles east of Phoenix, offers a true desert golf experience and is the type of golf course that first-time visitors to Arizona would probably expect. This Robert Trent Jones Jr-designed course winds through the Usery Mountains and is ranked as one of the top ten golf courses in Phoenix. The terrain is demanding with cacti, rocks and water coming into play, but at nearly 1,800 feet above the desert floor, the views from almost every hole of Downtown Phoenix are amazing.
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club
Another unique desert experience can be enjoyed at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, located at Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation Indian Reservation where its two golf courses, Cholla and Saguaro have been designed on land that will never be used for residential or commercial development.
On entering the canyon-like designed clubhouse, the Yavapi culture is evident with ornaments and pictures of Indians decorating the spacious dining area. The Scott Miller-designed Cholla course is a ‘must play’ with picture postcard holes set in outstanding natural beauty, but don’t be fooled by the short par-4s that highlight the risk and reward layout. From the 12th tee you’ll catch sight of the man-made fountain in the distance at Fountain Hills that spews out water to a height of 562 feet on the hour, and the 13th is when you really appreciate the vastness of the landscape with views across the desert to the mountains beyond with no other hole in sight.
Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
Centrally located and designed for everyone is the luxurious Westin Kierland Resort & Spa. It has every amenity you could wish for including on-site golf and is typical of a large resort hotel. The entrance is grand and in the lobby area there are continual comings and going of conference delegates and holidaymakers.
The three 9-holes at Kierland Golf Club are named after indigenous plant life found on the course including Acacia, Ironwood and Mesquite and whatever combination you play, water comes into play on the final hole. The majority of holes are straightforward, what you see is what you get. Bunkers can cause a problem as there are over 300 of them, and the large greens have subtle contours so they’re not the easiest to read. The golf academy and practice facilities at Kierland are excellent and it’s also worth booking a Fore-Max session, a training system that blends the best of exercise physiology with instruction.
Bedrooms at the Westin Kierland Resort (www.kierlandresort.com) start from £245
Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa
In contrast to the Kierland, if you want a complete Arizona experience, then look no further than the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa which has been a legendary fixture at the foot of Camelback Mountain since 1936. Early guests included many celebrities and business leaders including Mrs Dwight D Eisenhower, Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Bette Davis, and J W Marriott Sr. The Marriott’s proudly made the Camelback Inn their first resort in 1967.
Meandering pathways interspersed with desert plants and life-size Indian statues lead to Pueblo-style casitas and various dining areas. The casitas are spacious and modern, and each has a private terrace. Above the resort entrance is a clock with the words ‘Where Times Stands Still’. No truer words are said, as it’s easy to relax here and especially in the spa that sits at the highest point.
Bedrooms at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa (www.marriott.co.uk) start from $179 (approx £107)
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Scottsdale is certainly not limited to great golf courses and this sophisticated city has so much to offer. Downtown Scottsdale is a bustling mix of contemporary and old west including over 125 art galleries, shops, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and hotels.
With beautiful sunrises and sunsets, there is nowhere better to take a balloon flight and a desert tour in a TomCar is an exhilarating experience even if, like me, you take to the wheel with trepidation! Women will feel far more at home at Scottsdale’s Fashion Square. This is a shopper’s paradise and includes many high street brands and department stores Barneys, Macy’s and Nordstrom.
With hundreds of restaurants to choose from, it’s clear that food is a passion in Arizona. There is a strong southwest influence, and at the delightful Aunt Chilada’s Mexican restaurant the family owners are happy to regale historical tales over fajitas and quesadillas. For trendsetters, the Yard, a former motorcycle shop, has been transformed into a bar-cum-restaurant where you can also play games like ping-pong or shuffleboard. It’s a simple concept but it works, and the soft pretzels with cheese fondue are delicious.
British Airways (www.ba.com) offers return flights from London Heathrow to Phoenix from £594 per person. Flight time is approximately 10 hours.
Where to play
See Westin Kierland and Marriott Camelback Inn websites for golf packages
Lookout Mountain Golf Club www.tapatiocliffshilton.com/resort-golf
We Ko Pa Golf Club www.wekopa.com
Cholla and Saguaro courses from $75-$225
Las Sendas Golf Club from $49-$129 www.lassendas.com
Different Pointe of View www.tapatiocliffshilton.com
Aunt Chilada’s www.auntchiladas.com
The Yard www.foxrc.com
Brat Haus www.brathausaz.com