Ten reasons to plan an Arizona golf vacation
Arizona golf isn't just desert golf; it's a whole separate category.
With most it in the beautiful Sonoran desert, golf in Arizona has a distinct look and feel to it. There are mountains and valleys and ideal weather for much of the year. There are as many reasons to take an Arizona golf vacation as there are types of desert plants, but we've narrowed it to 10:
Great golf climate
Okay, most of Arizona is desert. Everybody knows that, but it's also one of the few places on earth where you can plan a golf vacation in advance and be almost 100 percent assured you're going to get to play golf every day. With more than 300 days or more of sunshine throughout the state, your chances of rain are minimal, and in fall, winter and spring, the temperatures are mostly mild. Even in the summer, it's tolerable, especially in the morning -- and it's a dry heat.
Great course conditions
The lack of rain in most parts of Arizona also means superintendents have a carefully controlled environment for growing, especially for heavy winter overseeding, which is done at most courses. That overseeding is what sets Arizona apart, meaning most courses are incredibly lush for eight or nine months out of the year.
And even if you play in the summer, you're looking at bargain rates on some of the country's best courses like Troon North Golf Club, The Westin Kierland or Ventana Canyon Golf and Racquet Club down in Tucson.
Great variety of golf
There's golf for every taste in Arizona, from classic and modern desert designs like Talking Stick Golf Club to lush, parkland layouts like the Phoenician and desert links like the Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club. The Phoenix area and the Tucson area also have terrific municipal offerings with many of them recently renovated. And for something a little different, you can head to the cool mountain breezes of the Flagstaff area.
As convenient as you want it
The great thing about Arizona golf is that not only is there plenty of it, but it's mostly centrally located. Getting off the plane in Phoenix means you literally have a couple hundred golf courses within an hour's drive, and some of them are much closer than that, such as the Arizona Grand Golf Course.
Fly into Tucson, and the numbers are not quite as high, but the quality is great and there are still plenty of courses and resorts close by to choose from.
Pick a sporting event
If you love sports, especially during the colder months, then Arizona is hard to beat. A regular host of the NFL's Super Bowl in February, University of Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix is also the home of the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL, the Fiesta Bowl and is in the rotation for college football's national championship game. Perhaps more impressively, the Phoenix/Scottsdale area is home to Major League Baseball's spring training Cactus League, which means if you take a golf trip in late February or March, you can see as much baseball as you like. In addition, Arizona has NASCAR, the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the NBA's Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League.
Great spas and resorts
Arizona is home to some of the best golf resorts and spas in the country. From the relatively new Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain in Marana to the Four Seasons Resort at Troon North or the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort at Gainey Ranch, Arizona has it covered with quality golf, high-end accommodations and restaurants and terrific spas.
Different strokes for different folks
If you enjoy the big, bustling golf resorts, there are plenty to choose from like the Four Seasons at Troon North in Scottsdale or the JW Marriott Star Pass in Tucson. But if you want to keep a low profile, and perhaps spend a little less, you have options such as the Tubac Golf Resort, where much of the movie "Tin Cup" was filmed. In short, there's a resort or golf experience for every budget and every taste.
Great clubhouse eats
One thing that's great about Arizona golf courses is the unique grub you tend to get in the clubhouses, whether it's Southwestern, Mexican or just a great burger. Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, for example, offers superb soups, pulled pork and chili that tantalizes golfers and non-golfers alike. The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, has a fantastic clubhouse menu created by the resort's gourmet chef staff. And Troon North will make you a breakfast burrito that will have you skipping lunch.
Other Arizona attractions
It's called the Grand Canyon state for a reason, and if you've never seen this great national park, listed among the Seven Wonders of the World, then it's about time. Of course, there's much more to do in Arizona than visit the Grand Canyon. You could drive the Apache Trail, head over to Monument Valley where many classic Westerns were filmed, check out the Heard Museum (dedicated to Native American culture) or visit the University of Arizona Museum of Art, where you'll find works from Pablo Picasso as well as Georgia O'Keeffe.
Easy to get to
If you live in the Southwest, Arizona is easy to reach by car. If you don't there are plenty of flights to Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport and Tucson International. There aren't as many direct flights into Tucson, but luckily Tucson is less than two hours from Phoenix if you'd rather fly direct (and often less expensively) into Sky Harbor, which handles more than 1,200 flights a day.
March 22, 2011