Hurricane shy? Phoenix-Scottsdale, Las Vegas offer weatherproof golf

By Chris Baldwin, Contributor

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Watching a news channel the last few weeks, it'd be easy to think that all of America isunder an all-out assault from Mother Nature.

That "The Day After Tomorrow" disaster movie has nothing on CNN's Anderson Cooper standing on the steps of a seaside restaurant in his galoshes, giving hourly updates on how high the water is now. And now, Anderson!

It's no joking matter from the larger picture sense, of course. If you lost your house in Hurricane Katrina or had to evacuate from Hurricane Rita, you could care less that the entire U.S. has been made to seem like a weather-battered zone. For a vacationing golfer from afar, and sometimes even those in the States, it can be easy to forget that there are golf hot spots where the weather reports are still largely irrelevant, however.

A hacker who chooses the Phoenix-Scottsdale resort corridor or Las Vegas need not anxiously consult Willard Scott and obsess over the latest from Doppler 2 Million before booking their trip. Unless it's to determine just how much sunscreen they should pack.

"That's one of the things we love about Vegas," said Josh Isadore, a group leader of a bunch of buddies who make regular golf trips to Sin City. "You're not going to have your trip rained out." Or blown away. And you thought the big advantage of these desert golf meccas was shooting around cacti?

While the Gulf Coast was getting battered with 120 mph winds over the weekend, golfers in Scottsdale played in high temperatures just over 100 degrees.

"You never get used to the heat, I don't care what people tell you," said Barry Burns, a Midwest transplant who's been living in the Phoenix area for the last 15 years. "But it's a lot better than the alternatives. It's a lot better than coming out to shovel five feet of snow in the winter or even worse. Look what's been happening around the rest of the country."

Of course, Burns did go golfing in that heat over the weekend. Twice.

Imagine how thrilled someone who'd planned long ago to golf in Houston this last evacuated weekend would have been to be carefree hitting a few ProV1s. It's incredibly crass to be talking about golf vacations when people have lost their lives and everything they own.

Unless it's your lost golf vacation.

"People get one, maybe two, real vacations all year long," said Houston golfer Diane Yang. "Everyone's stressed out these days. I can understand why people get upset if they lose their vacation because of a big weather disturbance. It's not the same thing as losing something you can't replace and I don't think anyone argues it is.

"It doesn't bother me when I hear people complaining about it, because if I was going to golf somewhere and it was canceled by weather, I'd be complaining about it, too," she added.

With this in mind, more golfers could be turning to the tried and true, virtually weatherproof destinations like Las Vegas and Scottsdale. In times of uncertainty, sure bets often become even more popular.

If you avoid the typical June-to-mid-September heat grip, or stick to an alternative cooler Arizona locale during those times, such as Prescott, battling heat isn't even a factor. In Vegas, your biggest consistent weather obstacle is likely to be the fickle winds that can add a degree of difficulty to a round.

"It's the best all-around golf conditions I've found," Burns said. "Even in California, you've got to worry about those rains all winter. Just ask the PGA (Tour) guys."

No golf destination is absolutely weather proof. But Phoenix and Las Vegas come pretty close.

Chris BaldwinChris Baldwin, Contributor

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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