Phoenix's Best Golf Resorts: Four-Star Caliber Digs Abound

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

PHOENIX, AZ - Man cannot live on golf alone. Sleep and food complete the equation, and the Valley of the Sun has the golf resorts to take care of all three of these Maslowian travel needs.

Upscale, midlevel, stark desert and plush grass lawns - you can pick your poison in the Phoenix area when it comes to staying and playing. Here is a sampling of some of the best the Sonoran Desert has to offer.

The Phoenician Resort - This world class resort is nestled at the base of Camelback Mountain, and finding a golf resort of this caliber so close to a major city is like finding a Titleist Pro V1 stuck in a Saguaro cactus - it just doesn't happen that often. The surroundings are lavish, including an $8 million art collection that will have true Renaissance men drooling before they even get to the resort's 27-hole golf course. The course's three sets of nine holes - the desert, oasis and canyon - each presents a different theme, ranging from tropical to southwestern desert. Adding to the resort's popularity is the fact that it's located just nine miles from Sky Harbor International Airport.

Resort Suites - Resort Suites is located in the Princess Compound, and is a family owned property with 297 condos, 488 bedrooms, 6,000 square feet of meeting space, four pools, two whirlpool spas, and exercise facility, full room service and Jaime's Grill. Oh, and there is a golf course to play, too. Unlike other resorts, Resort Suites is not tied to one particular golf course. Guests are typically on golf packages, and tee times are available at Troon North, Legend Trail, Las Sendas, Kierland, Estrella Ranch, and a number of other top shelf Valley courses.

Legacy Golf Club - When Legacy (at right) opened in 1999, it marked the first time in over ten years that a new resort had come on line in the Valley of the Sun. Bold move? Not when you consider the setting: 280-acres at the base of South Mountain. The views back into the city from the golf course are phenomenal. The resort hotel is a four-star caliber digs with 328 suites, replete with kitchens, work areas, and balconies. The golf course, designed by Gary Panks, is set on Dwight B. Heard's former 7,500 acre, turn-of-the-century ranch. Also onsite - Top 100 Teachers Lynn Marriot and Pia Nilsson's golf school.

The Pointe South Mountain Resort - Along with Legacy Golf Club, another amazing offering from the south valley. Pointe South Mountain Resort is also sunk into the base of South Mountain, spanning 300 acres just 10 minutes from the airport. The golf course, Phantom Horse Golf Club, is one of the truly underrated tracts in the area. Burn out there and you can trot over to the Raven, the resort's sister course, and one of the state's Top 20 courses.

The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale Troon North - Maybe seeing Troon North, arguably the area's top golf facility, in the name is all you need to book a room at the new Four Seasons. The resort opened in 1999, and sports 210 rooms with 22 private suites. Book a package that allows you to take advantage of Troon North's Pinnacle and Monument Courses - both considered to among the best in the U.S. After golf, the sky is the limit. A 6,000 square foot free form pool waits, as do some lavish surroundings.

Gold Canyon Golf Resort - You might not hear as much about Gold Canyon as you do the Boulders or the Phoenician, but if you are looking for a low key, smaller scale resort with one of the east valley's best golf courses, you are home. The resort is located in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains, and the white washed villas that appear to tumble down one of the foothills are as comfortable as an Arizona sunset. Dinosaur Mountain, the resort's featured golf course, offers some of the best views in the Valley.

The Wigwam Resort - Before being a resort in Phoenix was cool, there was the Wigwam. This venerable digs is one of the Valley's oldest stay and play resorts, and it can still hang with the young pups. The 70-year-old resort is home to three golf courses, simply dubbed the Gold, Blue and Red Courses. The Gold Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., is the Wigwam's most decorated course. The blue course, also by RTJ, is a true resort course at just 6,100 yards. The Red Course is the resort's most modern offering, playing through an open, airy layout dotted with numerous lakes, rock filled creeks, and gigantic greens.

The Boulders - The Boulders is considered by many players and golf writers to be THE Mac Daddy golf resort of Arizona. Golf Magazine thought enough of it to bestow the Boulders with its coveted "Gold Medal" award. The South Course at the Boulders is a solo effort from Jay Morrish, who often teams with Tom Weiskopf to produce some of the world's most memorable golf courses. You've probably seen pictures of this course's prehistoric looking rock formations, all of which distract players from the task at hand - clearing treacherous arroyos and canyons in hopes of making par.

Sheraton San Marcos, - The Sheraton San Marcos dubs itself Arizona's Original Golf Resort, but a 19 million dollar renovation suggests that there is little of anything "original" about this outstanding resort. Home to 295 guest rooms, two pools, lighted tennis courts, and exercise room, two lounges and three restaurants. The golf course is flat out enjoyable, and at 6,500 yards with an "all grass" layout, player friendly is the name of the game.

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of from 1997 to 2003.

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