The best of the Desert West is now better than everThe FBR Open. Want a real party? The PGA Tour comes to the TPC of Scottsdale January 29 through February 4 for the FBR Open—the most attended tour stop in the country. Along with the best players in the world come huge galleries, nightly parties, music and opportunities to meet, greet or watch people as they pass on by. The FBR Open is one of the few tournaments where cheering is encouraged, as evidenced by the rowdy par-3 16th hole. It really is the “Greatest Show on Grass.” For more info, visit www.phoenixopen.com.
My Kind Of Birdie. Grayhawk Golf Club is another one of those places that golfers visit in order to get away from the daily grind. Featuring two highly acclaimed golf courses, the experience at Grayhawk is a popular one: rock and roll on the driving range, cheeky cart girls and a golf shop and restaurant that cater to what the locals call “casual elegance.” As for the golf, both courses are regularly considered among the favorites of all of the area’s 200 golf courses. It’s also a great place to watch for celebrities. For the lowdown, visit www.grayhawkgolf.com.
Winter Weather. Yep, this is why people live here. The winters here are spectacular, with daytime temps hovering in the upper 60s and low 70s. It’s also the dry season, making the winter months the prime season to take refuge from the cold snow back home. Prices are at their peak this time of year, but so are the course conditions.
A Suite Deal. Scottsdale has a ton of beautiful resorts, most of which flank a golf course or chic shopping center. For golfers, though, the best “hangout” can be found at the conveniently located Resort Suites of Scottsdale. Here golfers can choose between condo-like floor plans and opt to have the entire vacation planned out by the resort’s own Professional Golf Vacation Planners. They’ll take care of every detail and hook up golfers with the best rates and tee times at the area’s premier courses. Each vacation package is wholly customizable, making a stay at the Resort Suites a piece of cake. For more info, visit www.resortsuites.com.
We-Ko-Pa. One of the most popular courses in Scottsdale actually isn’t in Scottsdale. Located on the Fort McDowell Indian Reservation (about 10 minutes east of Scottsdale) is We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, a course that leads the popular vote among the most photogenic and beautiful courses in the Southwest. First, the course has no man-made buildings to get in the way, and second, the surrounding views of local mountain ranges (including Four Peaks Mountain, which is pronounced ‘wee-koh-pah’ in Yavapai) leaves little to be added to the course’s billing as an authentic and natural golf experience. Finally, and most excitingly, We-Ko-Pa is unveiling its new Coore/Crenshaw-designed Saguaro Course (to complement the newly named Cholla Course), set to open this winter. No doubt the Saguaro Course is blessed with remarkable, unhindered scenery, and judging by the recent successes of Coore/Crenshaw, the new course is sure to be a huge hit. For more info, visit www.wekopa.com.
Beyond Scottsdale. The entire Phoenix metro area is chockful of awesome places to play. Looking westward, the new Raven at Verrado Golf Course is a remarkable design. In Tempe, the ASU Karsten Golf Course is the perfect place to get a golf lesson. Central to Phoenix, golfers can take refuge in the desert Shangri-la at the Arizona Biltmore, The Phoenician, The Raven at South Mountain and The Legacy Golf Resort. Finally, east of Eden you’ll find Mesa, home to some of the most underrated golf in Arizona. For a roundup on all the places to stay and play outside of Scottsdale, check out www.visitphoenix.com. For Mesa, don’t miss www.visitmesa.com.
Eat, Drink, Play. North Scottsdale (the newer half of town) has exploded in popularity, thanks in part to the beautiful Westin Kierland Resort and Spa. Anchored by three fun-to-play nine-hole layouts, Kierland Golf Club is the kind of course to begin or end your golf vacation. The resort itself has everything you might expect: luxurious accommodations, exquisite dining options, rejuvenating spas, pools and more. Also, the nearby Kierland Commons shopping center has everything the nongolfer needs to stay busy for days. For more info, visit www.kierlandresort.com.
A Taste Of The Southwest. Whether it’s authentic Mexican, Italian, Asian or virtually any other kind of cuisine, you’ll find it amid Scottsdale’s huge assortment of restaurants (there’s some 600 in the area). But, we recommend you at least try some Southwestern dishes that combine Mexican, Native American and European flavors all in one. One of the best times to experience such food with golf is during the Bon Appetit Celebrity Chef Golf & Spa Invitational in the month of October. It’s not uncommon to find a few of your favorite celebrity chefs hitting the links during this event, and there are dozens of off-course activities to partake in. For the whole scoop, visit www.bonappetitgolf.com.