Home sweet home on the range: RV golf in the desert is heating up

By Brandon Tucker, Managing Editor

A four-star restaurant downstairs, balcony with an endless desert view, and fresh towels every morning. For many, that's what some R & R in Arizona is all about.

But nothing can replace the comfort of home, can it?

For more and more travelers, living in the lap of luxury means heading out on their home on wheels: their "Recreational Vehicle." In the case of the extended-stay traveler, who can't afford a month at a glossy Valley of the Sun resort, it's the only way.

And if you think you're too high-class to trek across America in an RV, think again. PGA Tour players are beginning to ride the RV wave. Last season, nearly 20 tour pros, including Davis Love III and John Daly racked up substantial travel time driving tour stop to stop in their own luxury RV's.

For the traveling public, the choice to go cruisin' is becoming an increasingly popular option.

"We're still growing," said Michael Rus, PGA Director of Golf Operations at Viewpoint RV and Golf Resort in Phoenix. "We have over 2000 spaces currently and have another phase of about 500 additional spaces in development."

According to Rus, Viewpoint has seen not only an increase in RV travelers, but a new trend in period of stay.

"We're seeing a little different trend," said Rus. "I've been here 18 years, and it used to be you could count on people living here semi-permanent. We'd see a lot of people coming for a five month period. That pattern has changed more to a three month period. They have more mobility and travel around to other destinations."

Arizona, which is second behind Florida when it comes to relocating seniors, caters to RV golf. In the outskirts of Phoenix, the courses where you can park your RV for as long as you want, and play as many rounds as you desire are abundant.

RV courses are mostly aimed at attracting the "value conscious" traveler. As a result, don't expect and "Fazio" or "Nicklaus" designers or immaculately sculpted fairways. Rather a moderately-priced, playable course with well-kept but not finely manicured conditions. Few people have the bank roll to sustain $300 rounds daily in Scottsdale for several months in a row. At these RV courses, greens fees top out around $50 in the peak season, and most resorts offer significant discounts for guests staying a long period of time.

Arizona's top RV Golf Resorts

Viewpoint RV and Golf Resort: Located in the East Valley, Viewpoint RV and Golf Resort was rated the "National RV Resort of the Year" by the Ndational Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds, and was similarly honored in 2002 and 2003 as "Arizona RV Resort of the Year" by the Arizona Travel Parks Association. Viewpoint has 27 holes on property: an 18-hole championship course that caters to the serious player and a 9-hole executive course for the more casual. Viewpoint is a retirement community that sees over 4000 residents during the peak season. Greens fees peak out at $55 but can be played under $30 if you stay on property.

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort: Palm Creek is at the halfway point on I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson in Casa Grande. It's also one of the newer RV resorts in Arizona, and caters to the 55-and-older crowd as well. The course on property is an 18-hole, well-kept executive course available to residents for just $14 (non residents: $20). Residents also receive punch cards allowing ten plays for $80 total. Off the course, Palm Creek has a slew of activities, ranging from shuffleboard to horseshoes. Aerobics, water exercise classes, Yoga and Pilates are the workout options. Craft classes include ceramics, pottery, sewing and painting. The nightlife is lively, with cabaret, western and square dancing.

Turquoise Valley Golf & RV Resort: Located in Naco, in the deep south or Arizona and just minutes from the Mexico border, Turqoise Valley's claim to fame it's the oldest continuously operating course in Arizona, originally debuting in 1936. It also boasts a 746-yard par 6 monster 15th, the longest hole in the state as well, which is rather out of place, considering the total yardage is just over 6,700 yards. A second nine was built in 1999, and 18 holes cost $25. Across the street from the course is the RV Park, which has 100 spots for full power hook-ups. A Stay-and-play option is available for $30 and includes an RV space and 18 holes of golf.

Gold Canyon RV & Golf Resort: Located in the East Valley, Gold Canyon is a gated RV resort and community with its own 9-hole executive course. The resort features a 10,000 square ft. ballroom, auditorium, card and game rooms. While the golf is limited within the resort, Gold Canyon Golf Resort is minutes away and features two of Arizona's top 18-hole courses: Dinosaur Mountain and Sidewinder. Peak season rates however at both courses are close to $200, making the dirt cheap executive course at the RV resort a little more appealing.

Cocopah Bend RV Resort and Golf Course: Located west of Phoenix in Yuma, Cocopah Bend is nestled right against the Colorado River. While the river doesn't come into play, three holes have water hazards. Opened in 1988, the Cocopah Bend plays 5,262 yards and has three sets of tees. 18 holes cost $18.

Pueblo El Mirage Golf & RV Resort: Located in Phoenix's West Valley, Pueblo El Mirage probably has the only course with a recognizable designer name: Fuzzy Zoeller. The course plays over 6,600 yards and is a decent challenge for a low-handicapper. The resort is full-service, offering everything from a library, conference and computer rooms to swimming pools, saunas and hot tubs. Activities onsite include horseshoes, lawn bowling, shuffleboard and tennis courts.

Fortuna Del Rey Golf Course & RV Resort: Also in Yuma, Fortona Del Rey has one of the most difficult 9-hole courses in the area. Opened in 1994, the flat fairways are lined with trees and funnel into midsized greens. The course plays just over 3,000 yards and is a par 36.

Brandon TuckerBrandon Tucker, Managing Editor

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.

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