The Valley of the Sun: Top desert golf during Arizona's college football bowl games

By Brandon Tucker, Managing Editor

The final week of college football bowl season culminates brilliantly in sync with the start of Arizona's best time of year for lush, green desert golf. Three bowl games come to the Valley of the Sun this holiday season, capped by the Tostitos BCS National Championship game, pitting Auburn against Oregon.

Troon North's Pinnacle golf course in Scottsdale - No. 16
Troon North Golf Club's Pinnacle course is within an easy drive of bowl hosts Tempe or Glendale.
Troon North's Pinnacle golf course in Scottsdale - No. 16ASU's Karsten Golf Course - 9th holeTPC Scottsdale - Stadium - No. 18
If you go

Before then, Missouri and Iowa compete in the Insight Bowl at Arizona State University's home stadium in Tempe, while UConn takes on Oklahoma in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Glendale.

Golf can be found near both respective stadiums, though there are scores of courses that are putting their best foot forward just in time for the peak winter golf season around Phoenix and Scottsdale.

Here's a guide to where you can play when you're in town to watch your team's bowl action.

Insight Bowl, Dec. 28, Tempe, Ariz.

The matchup: Missouri vs. Iowa

Tempe has its own, more affordable courses worth playing if you're not up for the Scottsdale swank, starting with the Arizona State University Karsten Golf Course, a formidable Pete Dye design that's regarded as one of the top ten college golf courses.

Also nearby is a local favorite: Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, recently redesigned by Ken Kavenaugh. Or play Phoenix's historic municipal, Papago Golf Course, near Sky Harbor Airport.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 1 and the Tostitos BCS National Championship game, Jan. 10, Glendale, Ariz.

The Matchups: UConn vs. Oklahoma (Fiesta Bowl) and Oregon vs. Auburn (BCS National Championship game)

By January, it's prime winter golf season in the Valley of the Sun. Courses are wall-to-wall over-seeded and plush from tee to green.

Though not as loaded as Scottsdale to the east, Glendale in the northwest has a few of its own worthy, less expensive courses near the University of Phoenix Stadium. The Legend at Arrowhead is a traditional-styled Arnold Palmer design with plenty of grass and six lakes.

Or for resort golf, stay and play at Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort and play Lookout Mountain Golf Club, a resort-style course with top conditions and water features bordering the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.

Top shelf golf in nearby Scottsdale

The best resorts and golf courses in the Valley of the Sun can generally be found just east of Phoenix in Scottsdale. The Boulders Resort, home to a North and South course and a Waldorf Astoria-brand hotel, features immaculately-conditioned golf wrapping around mysterious, million-years-old boulder formations.

Another 36-hole stalwart in Scottsdale is Troon North, home to two recently renovated designs, the Pinnacle and Monument courses, that were pioneers in Scottsdale when they opened and continue to be a main draw.

Former Open host Grayhawk Golf Club is another 36-hole, tour-worthy facility with a Tom Fazio design, the Raptor course, plus the Gary Panks-designed Talon course.

And you can also tee it up at the TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course or Champions Course before the PGA Tour comes to town in February.

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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