Scottsdale/Phoenix: Great golf courses are everywhere -- and we do mean everywhere

By Bill Bowman, Contributor

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Okay, it's vacation time. Time to get out of Vegas' glitz and glitter to see what else the golf world has to offer. The destination: the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. With more than 200 golf courses, the area has plenty to offer readers in the way of golf courses -- and a whole lot more.

Inn at Eagle Mountain
The Inn at Eagle Mountain is centrally located for all your golfing needs in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.
Inn at Eagle MountainKierland Golf Club - Acacia course - hole 9Wildfire Golf Club - Faldo Course - hole 18Dinosaur Mountain No. 15
If you go

And, these guys really know how to make guests feel welcome. Next time you're planning a trip to Arizona, put these courses on your list and check out some fine resorts and restaurants -- and maybe a baseball game while you're at it.

Have fun -- we sure did.

Setting it up

A few phone calls and we had a resort to call home for three days and four rounds of golf set up. The resort -- The Inn at Eagle Mountain -- is actually located in Fountain Hills but is centrally located for all your golfing needs. In fact, you can walk out the door of your casita and see the 18th hole of Eagle Mountain Golf Club, an award-winning layout that features wonderful elevation changes, challenging doglegs and enough water hazards to make one forget they are playing golf in the desert.

But, back to the resort. The Inn at Eagle Mountain has been a home base for trips before. The staff is friendly and accommodating and the rooms (that's right -- plural as the mini-suites allow guests to stretch out and relax) are very comfortable. A refreshing pool will invigorate after a day on the course and the Jacuzzi overlooks the 18th and you can watch players finish the round as you soak away your sore muscles after the round -- or rounds. For more information, see www.innateaglemountain.com.

Phoenix/Scottsdale golf

With more than 200 golf courses in the area, picking out just four to play in this short trip is challenging. The four included:

Kierland Golf Club, a 27-hole layout; Wildfire Golf Club's Nick Faldo design; Gold Canyon Golf Resort's Dinosaur Mountain course and Talking Stick's North Course.

Turns out they were four great choices.

The rundown:

Kierland Golf Club: Three nine-hole tracks designed by Scott Miller make up the layout. The Acacia nine is the pride and joy and is joined by the Ironwood and Mesquite nines. On the grounds of the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, players have everything they could want and need in a resort just steps away. Great golf, phenomenal food, relaxing spa treatments and shopping. Enjoy.

Wildfire Golf Club: Two 18-hole designs sit in the middle of the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa. The golf courses -- Nick Faldo and Arnold Palmer layouts -- offer contrasting feels on the course. Luxury doesn't begin to describe all the amenities available here so we won't even try.

Gold Canyon Golf Resort: Another all-in-one resort, this one again with two 18-hole courses. The Dinosaur Mountain and Sidewinder courses offer amazing golf and stunning views of the Superstition Mountains. Add in on-site casitas and villas along with a spa and you're ready for some serious R&R.

Talking Stick Golf Club: It's the North and South courses (are you getting the pattern here that many of the resorts in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area offer more than just 18 holes?) here. No fancy nicknames, but plenty of great golf. Wide, wide, wide fairways are the norm (you could land a 747 on some of these babies). But, there is trouble as more than 200 bunkers come into play on the two courses at Talking Stick and these aren't your normal bunkers, as the ones guarding the greens are very deep, giving players a worm's-eye view of the contours of the green. With a new resort and casino just a driver away, this is one to check out for plenty of after-round and late-night entertainment options.

Four properties that will entertain and pamper guests from the moment they walk in the doors.

Phoenix/Scottsdale dining

Where to start. That's easy. Check out Big Daddy's Barbecue in Scottsdale (8608 E. Shea Blvd., tel. 480-609-0100). This place just recently opened (April 2010) but they've got the food down right. The brisket was tender and tasty -- a great combination. And the cold brews packed in the iced bathtubs behind the bar hit the spot after a warm round of golf. A couple of other places to try while you're out and about: Streets of New York Pizza in Fountain Hills (www.streetsofnewyork.com, 16841 E. Shea Blvd., tel. 480-837-3730), and Fox Sports Grill (www.foxsportsgrill.com, 16203 N. Scottsdale Rd., tel. 480-368-0369). Fox has great wings and fries, and every game in the area visible from just about every seat.

Another place on our list, but we ran out of time, was Indulge Burgers N More (www.indulgeburgers.com, 10392 N. Scottsdale Rd., tel. 480-998-2222). This place has enough burger options to please any palate.

That's one thing golfers won't have to worry about in Scottsdale -- amazing cuisine. Running from A-to-Z, there's a fantastic dining choice at just about every turn. Kind of like all the golf options.

Phoenix/Scottsdale off course

Professional sports are a hot ticket in Arizona with the Diamondbacks (MLB), Cardinals (NFL), Coyotes (NHL) and Suns (NBA) calling the Phoenix area home. Might as well take in a game in the evening while planning for your tee time the next day.

The verdict

It's never easy leaving Las Vegas to play golf, but teeing it up in Scottsdale eased the pain. The only problem is we just barely scraped the tip of the iceberg in playing world-class courses in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. With more than 200 courses in the area, the choices -- and designers -- are almost endless. Guess we'll just have to make a return trip (or two).

Bill BowmanBill Bowman, Contributor

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has nearly 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 15-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas and has teed it up for magazine profiles with celebrities including comedian Bill Engvall, actor Jeffrey Donovan (USA's Burn Notice), ESPN personality Colin Cowherd, NASCAR's Kurt Busch, Collective Soul's Ed Roland, the Baltimore Ravens' Jonathan Ogden and many others.


Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • PHX Golf

    TK wrote on: Jul 8, 2010

    Bill has nailed the golf scene in Phoenix - so many courses / so little time!
    I have played 2 of the 4 courses Bill mentions and they are great. Gold Canyon (Dinosaur) & Talking Stick (North) offer great views, great golf and excellent customer service. You cannot go wrong @ either of these destinations. May I also add both 18s @ Wekopa for the golf trip of a lifetime.
    Thanks Bill!

    Reply