Happy Holidays to Me! Seven Courses for Christmas

By Ray Bangs, Contributor

PHOENIX - I start to shiver when I see the weather reports in other parts of the country and wonder how in the world any self-respecting golfer can live in the land of snow and cold. After plenty of white winters under my belt, I certainly don't mind admitting to Bing that I'm living the dream of a green Christmas.

If you're looking for the perfect way to spend that week off between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve, here are seven fantastic Phoenix-area courses. Talk your significant other into indulging your golf addiction, or better yet, make two tee-time reservations. Play just one or play one a day. However the Titleist flies, step up with your driver at any of these Arizona beauties and you'll find yourself ending the year better than par.

If you happen to let that week slip by to Lazy Boy lounging, never fear... these courses will still be here next year. Personally, I can't think of too many New Year's resolutions better than playing more golf!

TPC of Scottsdale - Scottsdale, AZ

The Tournament Players Club of Scottsdale's Stadium Course is your chance to challenge golf's greats without all the work of earning your PGA Tour card. Since 1987, the TPC has hosted The Phoenix Open, the world's largest spectator golf event (and growing in popularity!). Tee up against Tiger's hole-in-one on the 16th or unleash the driver trying to match Andrew Magee's 17th hole albatross, the only par four ace in PGA Tour history. To really put your game to the test, get warmed up and play four rounds against Mark Calcavecchia's record-setting 28-under-par. Even if you aren't beating the pros, the TPC is a course destined to delight. www.playatpc.com

Longbow Golf Club - Mesa, AZ

Arizona likes to boast that Ken Kavanaugh is one of her own, and he has certainly remained faithful with the Longbow Golf Club's artistic bunker designs full of Grand Canyon State sand. Longbow GC takes a noble step away from the Valley of the Sun's busier resort courses and features a classy tranquility minus all the houses often found lining Phoenix-area fairways. Named after the Apache Longbow helicopter, playing a round at Longbow GC, in addition to great golf, offers a great chance that you'll be treated to a spectacular air show of classic fighter planes. www.longbowgolf.com

Camelback Golf Club - Scottsdale, AZ

In the heart of the Scottsdale golf corridor, with the aptly named profile of Camelback Mountain dominating the horizon, sits 36 holes of great golf waiting to happen. In designing the Camelback Golf Club, world-renowned architect Arthur Mills has created a challenging and incredibly popular layout, which has nicely matured into one of the area's finest courses. To further complement this lush layout, the Camelback Golf Club has spent over $16 million in recent renovation. Tee it up! 800-767-3574, www.arizonagolfpackages.com/courses/camelback.htm

Gold Canyon Golf Resort - Gold Canyon, AZ

When you find yourself smacking your nine-iron over two hundred yards, you are most likely playing Gold Canyon Golf Resort's Dinosaur Mountain Course with its famous tee-to-green elevation changes unmatched by other Arizona courses. The breath-taking backdrops courtesy of the Superstition Mountains are alone worth the trip. Bring your binoculars, your camera, and maybe most importantly, your game face, because Dinosaur Mountain offers all the wildlife, scenery, and challenge of the great Arizona golf you deserve. 800-767-3574, www.arizonagolfpackages.com/courses/goldcanyon.htm

The Raven Golf Club at South Mountain - Phoenix, AZ

Drive past the Raven Golf Club at South Mountain, and you probably wouldn't expect to get much more than you see, but as the southeastern edge of Phoenix continues to develop, the surrounding areas are starting to see par. The Raven is a spectacular example of what happens when two great designers (David Graham and Gary Panks) come together to create a challenging traditional course in the desert. Pile the plush layout onto the Raven's reputation as the "#1 guest service in North America" by the readers of Golf Digest, and you are sure to be pleased with the results, even if you aren't too happy about your score. 800-767-3574, www.arizonagolfpackages.com/courses/raven.htm

Superstition Springs Golf Club - Mesa, AZ

So you've been practicing as diligently as Greg Norman, you're starting to hit your wedges like Sam Snead, and you've discovered Lee Trevino's fighting spirit deep within. Not too shabby. Next stop dream chaser, is the show. Bring your lucky rabbit foot, the horseshoes, and every other good luck charm you rely on when you come out to Superstition Springs Gold Resort, known as a PGA Tour qualifying site. This East Valley track is a somewhat less heralded course, but only because golfers and reviewers are often at a loss for words. This Greg Nash layout is a spectacularly scenic proving ground for pro wannabes and locals-in-the-know... the views are as humbling as the course. 800-767-3574, www.arizonagolfpackages.com/courses/superstition.htm

The Golf Club at Eagle Mountain - Fountain Hills, AZ

You've undoubtedly seen a photo of a Saguaro silhouetted sunset, quite typical of Arizona, and even clichéd in advertising and marketing, but a picture just doesn't cut it. The Golf Club at Eagle Mountain is the ideal choice to experience the dramatic afternoon lighting for yourself, the course earning top accolades from everybody all the time. Architect Scott Miller delicately weaved the fairways through the box canyons, ravines, and rolling hills snuck in the McDowell Mountains, ensuring a comfortable harmony with the surrounding Sonoran desert... the perfect way to cap off the year. 800-767-3574, www.arizonagolfpackages.com/courses/eaglemountain.htm

TPC Scottsdale
17020 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85255
Phone: 800-767-3574.

5400 E. McDowell Road, Mesa, Arizona 85215
Phone: (480)807-5400

Gold Canyon
6100 S. Kings Ranch Rd., Gold Canyon, AZ 85218
Phone: 800-767-3574

The Raven
3636 East Baseline Road, Phoenix, AZ 85040
Phone: 800-767-3574

Superstition Springs
6542 E. Baseline Road, Mesa, AZ 85206
Phone: 800-767-3574

7847 N. Mockingbird Lane, Scottsdale, AZ 85253
Phone: 800-767-3574

Golf Club at Eagle Mountain
14915 East Eagle Mountain Parkway, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268
Phone: 800-767-3574.

Ray BangsRay Bangs, Contributor

In addition to being a frequent contributor to several publications, Ray Bangs is the author of "52 Great Weekend Escapes in Arizona." He is also the co-publisher and senior editor of Arizona Explorer Magazine, a regional publication focusing on active travel, leisure, and recreation. Ray's motto is simple. "If you're way too busy to go fishing and golfing once in a while, you're way too busy!"

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