The 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._Ê Each vacation package is wholly customizable, making a stay at the Resort Suites a piece of cake. For more info, visit www.resortsuites.com._Ê
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 __ðwee-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._Ê 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.
Spring Training. In the minds of many, spring training is still the best chance to get up and personal with the stars of MLB. Spring training in Arizona continues to draw fans of America's pastime from all over the country, hoping to get an indication of how their favorite team is likely to fare during the upcoming season. Among the Cactus League participants are 12 teams, with venues spread across the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas. For a full schedule and list of participating teams, visit www.cactus-league.com.
The Nightlife. Scottsdale may have 330 days of sunshine per year, but it's the nightlife that really heats things up. Look no further than Scottsdale Road as it crosses in and out of Old Town Scottsdale. Here you'll find the assortment of scantily clad college students, middle-aged business people, retirees and so on–all convened in and around a mass of about 50 indoor/outdoor bars, restaurants, dance clubs and lounges. Come the late hours and it's common to see that a relaxing restaurant by day has transformed into an electric dance club by night.
For one-stop information on all things Scottsdale, check out the Scottsdale Convention and Visitor's Bureau online at www.scottsdalecvb.com.
5 Places To See And Be Seen
1. Troon North Golf Club
Play here and tell everyone you know that you've played it. It's just that kind of place. And wear your nicest shirt, it's that kind of place too.
2. TPC Of Scottsdale
If you have the right clothes, a tour bag and a decent swing, you might fool some people into thinking you're a pro._Ê
3. The Phoenician
It's resort-style golf, but it's so well maintained and so centrally located that it has become a hotspot to eat, drink, play and, of course, be seen._Ê
4. Hot Stix
It's not even a golf course, but this is the place serious golfers are found. Get your clubs tweaked and buy a new driver shaft. You'll see instant improvements.
5. The Boulders
This ultra-hidden resort is where you have to look to find some of the coolest spots to hang in the Valley of the Sun.
5 Very Challenging Courses
1. SunRidge Canyon Golf Club
The front nine of this beautiful course is all downhill and the back nine is all uphill. No really, we mean it's really uphill. Bring your A-game for the three closing holes.
2. Grayhawk Golf Club (Raptor)
Some say it's tough, others say it's not. We agree that the course is fair off the tee, but you have to hit your irons well to score._Ê_Ê
3. WildFire Golf Club_Ê
The 7,170-yard Palmer Signature Course is no slouch, as it challenges expert and novice golfers alike. Choose among six sets of tees according to varying skill levels._Ê_Ê
4. Talking Stick Golf Club
Both courses at Talking Stick are seemingly benign, but in reality, are much more difficult tests of golf than they look. If you can't play both, play the links-style North Course._Ê
5. Trilogy At Vistancia
It may not be in Scottsdale proper, but this course is too good and just too challenging to leave out._Ê
How To Be In The Know
1. Pack Warm Clothes And Shorts
Who knows? You may tee it up wearing pants and a sweater, and by noon you'll be in shorts and a short-sleeve shirt.
2. Book Early Tee Times
The only caveat to winter golf is the short days. Book your tee time early to avoid closing holes in the dark.
3. Eat A Light Lunch
There are far too many great restaurants in Scottsdale to miss a hearty dinner. Don't miss the local Southwestern cuisine.
4. Play In Sedona
Play Sedona Golf Resort and Oak Creek. The unbelievable views of red rocks make up for the two-hour drive. Temps are usually much cooler up here too.
5. Get Bird's Nest Tix At The FBR Open
Don't miss the party of the year at the FBR Open. Better yet, there's a different headlining act every night of the tourney. Oh yeah, there's golf to watch as well.
6. Buy A Tommy Bahama Shirt
You want to fit in, don't you? The latest styles feature less of the floral prints and more of the good stuff that's appropriate anywhere you go.
7. Spread The Love
The outside service people live off gratuity. Tip well, and your clubs will glisten and be ready for you when you leave.