With Las Vegas having more than 50, Palm Springs with 100-plus and the Phoenix/Scottsdale/Mesa area totaling somewhere near 200 golf courses, it's no wonder millions of golfers each year flock to these three desert golf boomtowns. It's culture shock for many once they get there, as golfers from all over the world marvel at the union between harsh desert topography and the soft, caressing ribbons of fairway and greens that make up each golf oasis. Unlike other destinations, where golf has a more natural feel, desert golf is a vivid sparring match between man-made creations and the consuming desert barrenness. This duel, when choreographed carefully by many of the world's greatest course architects, results in a vast array of truly exciting holes that hopscotch desert canyons, traverse dry washes and jog around huge granite boulders. Oh, and a series of enormous and daunting man-made lakes also hold precedence at many golf courses as well, thus fooling unsuspecting golfers who imagine there's only waterless courses in the desert. The sunshine is predictable (in a good way, of course), so golf course superintendents are able to fine-tune their course conditioning in ways that no other place on Earth can rival. Like mentioned, golf in the desert West isn't played, it's experienced.
Upon arrival at virtually every golf resort or stand-alone golf club, one can expect to find among the country's most attentive staffs, the most glamorous golf shops, renowned restaurants (on-site), country-club-for-a-day amenities and practice centers that are consistently ranked among the best in the country. A typical desert golf experience begins with a warm morning round, a generous lunch, relaxation by the pool and an exquisite dinner followed by some of the world's most sought-after evening entertainment.
Like the golf, the guest service you'll find in the desert is unlike anywhere else. At most locations it won't feel like club staffs are working for you; instead, you'll feel as if they're longtime friends who have invited you to their playground for fun in the sun and some evening R&R. When you leave, you'll do so with a collection of new friends eager for your return visit.
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By the way, golf isn't all there is to do in the desert–shopping, spas, gambling, gourmet cuisine and other sinful self-indulgences are endlessly available for the nongolfing or golfing travel companion. Night or day, there's always something to see and do, no matter what corner of the desert you're in.
When To Go
Las Vegas, Palm Springs and the Phoenix Metro area, although spread out across three states, all have very similar weather patterns throughout the year. Obviously, this is the desert, and the summers here might be a little too hot for some golfers. But, if you can take the heat, you'll be able to take advantage of rock-bottom room rates and green fees. The rest of the year, as you can see, is perfect.
Combined (High/Low, _¡F)
January _Ê_Ê_Ê 68_¡/35_¡
February _Ê_Ê_Ê 68_¡/41_¡
March _Ê_Ê_Ê 75_¡/46_¡
April _Ê_Ê_Ê 77_¡52_¡
May _Ê_Ê_Ê 91_¡/59_¡
June _Ê_Ê_Ê 101_¡/70_¡
July _Ê_Ê_Ê 106_¡/75_¡
August _Ê_Ê_Ê 104_¡/74_¡
September _Ê_Ê_Ê 98_¡/67_¡
October _Ê_Ê_Ê 87_¡/56_¡
November _Ê_Ê_Ê 73_¡/45_¡
December _Ê_Ê_Ê 64_¡/39_¡
What To Bring
Unlike other destinations in the country, packing the right gear for a trip to the desert West is as easy as 1-2-3. Odds are, you can leave the rain suit at home.
First, the sun shines almost every day here; therefore sun protection is an absolute must. Look for sunblock that's both sweat-proof and has an SPF rating of at least 30. Also, it helps to find a sunblock that's rub-free like Banana Boat's Sport Spray, which is sprayed directly on to the skin, thus avoiding any greasy hands prior to teeing off. In addition, don't forget the benefits of a hat. Whether you opt for a baseball-style cap, wide-brim straw hat or even a pith helmet, make sure you keep your noggin covered.
Second, unless your name is Fred Funk, you're going to miss a fairwayor two, and at many desert-style courses, that means you'll need to be ready to hit a few shots from the desert sand or rocks (see page 87 for tips on handling this type of lie). Pack an old mid- to short-iron that you don't mind scratching or scuffing when it comes time to chip or pitch the ball back into the fairway. We'd hate to see you damage your newly chromed wedge.
Last, hitting the fairway and green is critical on just about every hole, so don't be eager to use a driver on short par-4s or even the longer ones. One alternative is to use a hybrid club for high, soft-landing shots that are easier to control. Also, hybrids are a solid option for hitting low, rolling chip shots from tight or uneven lies around the green. In either situation, the right club will pay huge dividends.
Now, we know the courses, hotels and resorts listed in this guide represent the creme de la creme in the desert West, but each destination also has literally thousands of options for a variety of travelers, budgets or special needs. Look for ideas by visiting the following convention and visitor's bureau Websites.
Palm Springs CVA
Las Vegas CVA
Las Vegas Travel Site
Where To Play
|Grayhawk Golf Club
This 36-hole club is a must for low-handicappers who think they've got the game to stack up against two of the most challenging and beautiful courses in Scottsdale.
Par 72, 6973 yards (73.6/143)
|Troon North Golf Club
High-end desert golf is personified at the two Weiskopf/Morrish-designed Pinnacle and Monument courses at Troon North.
Par 72, 7044 yards (73.4/137)
|Wildfire Golf Club
There are two courses, two designers and a hundred reasons to stay and play at the fabulous JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa.
Par 72, 7170 yards (73.5/135)
Unspoiled scenery without a single edifice in sight from any point on this fantastic desert layout.
Par 72, 7225 yards (73.3/137)
|Raven Golf Club at South Mountain
Pine trees in the desert? You bet.
Par 72, 7072 yards (73.9/133)
|Raven Golf Club at Verrado
This is a course for players who like to swing big off the tee, but you pay for it by having to pinpoint your approaches with extreme precision.
Par 72, 7258 yards
(Tom Lehman/John Fought)
|TPC at Scottsdale
The Tournament Players Club at Scottsdale happens to own four of the most exciting and decisive closing holes in town.
Par 72, 7216 yards (74.6/134)
(Tom Weiskopf/ Jay Moorish
|Longbow Golf Club
Recently renovated from good to absolutely great.
Par 72, 7003 yards (72.2/129)
|Kierland Golf Club
Three championship-length nines with bowl-shaped fairways and tricky greens.
Par 36, 3435 yards
|ASU Karsten Golf Course
Links-style golf on the home of the ASU Sun Devils.
Par 72, 7026 yards (74.1/132)
A tribute to Jack Nicklaus, Bear's Best has 18 replica holes taken from various Nicklaus-designed golf courses in North America.
Par 72, 7194 yards (74.9/133)
|Royal Links Golf Club
The United Kingdom has found a new home in Vegas with a collection of holes patterned on British Open greats.
Par 72, 7029 yards (73.7/135)
|The Revere at Anthem
Big fairways and challenging greens.
Par 72, 7143 yards (73.6/139)
|The Legacy Golf Resort
Holes range from piece of cake to extremely challenging.
Par 72, 7233 yards (74.0/135)
As expected, this Rees Jones design, minutes from the Strip, is part course, part thrill ride.
Par 72, 7332 yards (75.7/142)
Seasoned designer Gary Panks offers shot value far beyond the green fee.
Par 72, 7022 yards (72.8/133)
|Las Vegas (cont.)||_Ê|
|Lake Las Vegas Resort
Tom Weiskopf and Jack Nicklaus stamped Mother Earth with two spectacular courses that will excite you for hours and hours.
Par 72, 7261 yards (74.8/138)
|The Wolf at Paiute
The course is deadly long, a total of 7,604 yards, but the upshot is that the course is situated 3,000 feet above sea level.
Par 72, 7604 yards (76.5/149)
Thirty-six holes of links-style golf in the desert.
Par 71, 6858 yards (72.4/123)
The best of classic golf and new-age desert design in Palm Springs.
Par 72, 6705 yards (71.4/120)
|Indian Springs Golf Resort
Perfect for the high-handicapper or for a confidence-boosting round.
Par 72, 6761 yards (72.1/126)
|Marriott's Shadow Ridge
This Nick Faldo design has played to rave reviews since it opened in 2000.
Par 71, 6911 yards (73.2/132)
The John Cook-designed Firecliff and Mountain View courses are bunker minefields–you'll love it.
Par 72, 7056 yards (73.6/138)
|La Quinta Resort
More phenomenal golf than you can likely handle.
Par 72, 6756 yards (74.1/140)
PGA West Greg Norman Course
PGA West TPC Stadium Course
PGA West Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course
|Trilogy Golf Club at La Quinta
As the new host of the popular Skins Game, Trilogy has quickly earned the distinction of a must-play.
Par 72, 7175 yards (74.3/130)
Where To Stay
Palm Springs, Las Vegas and the Scottsdale/Phoenix metro all are loaded with wonderful places to enjoy between rounds. While we don't need to tell you about where to stay in Las Vegas, both Palm Springs and Scottsdale/Phoenix have a variety of options for all tastes and price ranges. Listed below are the creme de la creme. For more options, visit your local travel agent or online travel reservation sites such as:
For information of where to stay in Las Vegas, visit the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority online at www.lvcva.com.