Handicapping the seasons of Scottsdale: Which time of year is best for your golf group?
Looking for the right time of year for a Scottsdale golf vacation? This travel guide will tell you what to expect on the golf course and on your credit card statement for every Valley of the Sun season.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - In the heart of Arizona's Valley of the Sun just east of Phoenix, Scottsdale is one of the world's most coveted golf destinations.
Not every budget can afford the best golf courses in Scottsdale during the winter/spring peak season. But with every season comes different prices for accommodations and golf. You'll also discover different weather, course grasses and conditions.
A golf course in peak-season February is quite different from how it looks, plays and costs in May-November. Snowbirds who aren't accustomed to autumn over-seeding will be blown away by the kind of work that goes into keeping these courses at their best 12 months a year.
We've broken down exactly what to expect at the golf courses in each of the four seasons, and we've given an idea of the seasonal rate structure. Each golf club has its own unique rate and conditioning schedule, so check with each for details.
Generally speaking, A.M. rounds and weekend rounds are premium, while tee times after noon and twilight can be had for less than the rack rate we've listed in the article.
Scottsdale's Peak Golf Season: January-April
The peak season is where Scottsdale solidifies its reputation as a golfing paradise. Golf courses are in immaculate shape, now that the rye grass has had a few months to grow in since fall over-seeding. The bent grass greens, which many of the higher-end clubs have, shine in the cooler temperatures, so expect perfect. January and February can still be cold and yield some frost delays, but March and April can't be beat.
Since the courses and weather are at their best, it also means tee-time deals are tougher to find and hotel rooms usually charge their highest. You can save a little cash by booking P.M. rounds at most clubs and golf packages through select resorts.
Scottsdale's Spring Shoulder Season: May and June
The lush and green rye grass begins to fade away and the southern Bermuda grass starts to perk back up come May. But for golfers who simply must be in balmy shorts weather, this is an ideal time of year, with highs generally in the 80s and low 90s. Green speeds may start to slow a little as the temps rise, but they'll still be a good speed at most clubs.
Green fees come down in late April or May at most clubs but won't hit bottom until mid June or July.
Sample A.M. listed green fees in May
Talking Stick: $110
Camelback (Padre): $109
TPC Scottsdale (Stadium): $157
Scottsdale's Summer Off-Season: July-September
This is hardly the "off-season" for locals who salivate at the chance to play the area's top courses for pennies on the dollar. Of course, they do it with a tolerance for the desert's scorching summer heat. If you're visiting from a northern clime and not used to four hours in 110-degree heat, you can try to book early tee times so you can be off the course by 10 or 11 a.m. Otherwise, load up on water, towels and sunscreen.
Courses with bent grass greens have to grow them out to a pretty furry speed, otherwise they don't stand a chance. The fairways and rough are Bermuda, and while not lush green like in the spring, they're quite playable and on the firm side. Also in the summertime, monsoon season means the most frequent storms passing through, usually in the late afternoon and evening. It can be a welcoming sight, because cooler air follows afterwards.
The courses can still be busy from the crack of dawn through the first couple hours of morning daylight. If you don't like slow play, make a 2 p.m. tee time, which often costs little more than cart fees, and zip around wide-open courses.
Sample A.M. listed green fees in August
Talking Stick: $60
Camelback (Padre): $69
TPC Scottsdale (Stadium): $73
Scottsdale's Fall Shoulder Season: October-December
Most golf courses close in September or early October for a couple weeks for over-seeding, which transition their Bermuda turf to a lush, cool-weather rye grass.
Rye grass plays and looks like northern grasses, but to get it up and growing, a great deal of water is required. This means that while the weather is usually ideal in the 70s, the courses, while green, can be wet in the few weeks after the course re-opens after over-seeding, so you can encounter plenty of mud balls.
The greens are back in fast conditions, and the rough is usually not grown out too thick yet, which make for perfect scoring conditions. The weather now is as good as peak season, with 70s highs, but there's the threat of frost delays once you head into December.
Because the golf courses aren't quite in peak shape, you'll save a little bit on green fees compared to peak season, but many hotels begin to reach their peak holiday rates.
Sample listed A.M. green fees in November:
Talking Stick: $130
Camelback (Padre): $149
TPC Scottsdale Stadium: $197
December 9, 2009