Ten Phoenix Area Courses under $100

By Rebecca Larsen, Contributor

PHOENIX, AZ - Mid-January in Arizona is when the price of a round of golf goes up, just as the Phoenix Open is about to start and tourists from the snow country storm into the desert. But there are still many bargains in the Valley of the Sun: places where you can play 18 holes for $100 or less. And this year, courses seem to be offering more discount specials than ever, adding up to great savings for travelers, whether they're in Phoenix to watch the Open or to play golf themselves.

We've put together a list of 10 of these courses. Keep in mind that many of these prices are currently available specials, but subject to change. Be sure to check the websites of the courses or call the courses to confirm.

Karsten Golf Course1. Arizona State's Karsten Golf Course: This is a Scottish-style links course, designed by Pete Dye, that is open to the public as well as to university staff and students. The length of the course is 7,026 yards from the back tees, but there are five sets of tees here, so all levels of players can enjoy golfing here. Ratings/slopes range from 73.7/132 to 67.7/115. Cost is $93 per person on weekends and $69 on weekdays for the general public; the rate includes a cart and a sleeve of balls. There are discounts for university people, but their tee times are also more limited. Call 480-921-8070 or log onto www.asukarsten.com. Address: 1125 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, AZ 85281.

2. Camelback Golf Club: This club, adjacent to Marriott's Camelback Inn, has two courses. The newer Resort Course, created by Arthur Hills three years ago, runs $155 a round. But the Club Course is $90 a round on Monday through Thursday and $105 (a few dollars over our limit) on Friday through Sunday and holidays. The Club Course is a par 72 course, done in the links style in 1978 by Arthur Jack Snyder. From the back tees, this course measures 7,014 yards; from the women's tees it's 5,917 yards. Ratings range from 72.6 to 72.0. Call 800-767-3574; log onto www.camelbackgolf.com. Address: 7847 Mockingbird Lane, Scottsdale, AZ 85253.

3. The Golf Club at Eagle Mountain: Eagle Mountain, opened in 1996, is one of those courses that combine the very best that Arizona has to offer: mountain views, desert valleys and rolling hills, winding through the pristine Sonoran Desert. Designer Scott Miller put together a gem in this par-71, 6,755-yard course (from the back tees).

McDowell MountainsThe course is nestled in the McDowell Mountains above Scottsdale and was named among the Top 100 Golf Courses in America by Golf World Business in 1998, 1999 and 2001. The rating/slope from the back tees is 71.7/139. The length from the forward tees is 5,065 yards with a rating/slope of 67.9/118. The green fee here generally runs about $150. But the course has a regular spot for discounted tee times on its website that features rounds for about $100 a player.

Times vary widely; you have to be flexible; and you have to book these tee times online. Some can be booked weeks ahead of time, however. The rates generally are for two to four players.

In some cases, lunch is included. Call 800-767-3574; log onto www.eaglemtn.com. Address: 14915 E. Eagle Mountain Parkway, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

4. Longbow Golf Club: Designer Ken Kavanaugh laid out this affordable, walker-friendly golf course in the shadow of Red Mountain. With a cart, prices are $70 per round Monday through Thursday and $85 Friday through Sunday and holidays. The rating/slope is 71.8/128 from the back tees of this par 70, 6,750-yard course. The length from the forward tees is 2,403 yards with a rating/slope of 67.0/111. This winter may also be the last chance to play this course before its new owners undertake a major renovation project next summer. Call 480-807-5400 or log onto www.longbowgolf.com. Address: 5400 E. McDowell Road, Mesa, AZ 85215.

Orange Tree Golf and Conference Resort5. Orange Tree Golf and Conference Resort: This par 72 course, designed in 1957 by Johnny Bulla, measures 6,775 yards from the back tees and has a rating/slope of 71.3/122. From the forward tees, it measures 5,632 yards. There are mountain vistas here and water hazards on six holes. You can play a round here Monday through Friday for $99. Weekends are $119, over our price limit, but twilight rates, which usually start at 1 p.m. are $59.50, any day of the week. Call 480-948-3730 or log onto www.orangetreegolfresort.com. Address: 10601 N. 56th St., Scottsdale, AZ 85254.

6. Sanctuary Golf Course: This two-year-old course in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains has a fabulous setting that mixes hills, desert and wetlands and serves as a refuge for local wildlife. The course follows the natural contours of the site, much of which was previously owned by the Federal Bureau of Reclamation. The length is 6,624 yards from the back tees with a rating/slope of 71.7/135. From the forward tees it's 4,926 yards and 68.1/118. Although the weekend green fee here is well over our limit: $115, you can play Sanctuary for $97 Monday through Thursday. Twilight rates, which start at 1 p.m., are very affordable: $52 weekends, $42 weekdays. Call 800-767-3574 or log onto www.sanctuarygolf.com. Address: 10690 E. Sheena Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85259.

7. Scottsdale Silverado Golf Club: This course, previously known as the Links at Scottsdale, was renovated and reopened in November 2000. It's a par 70 course, 6,313 yards from the back tees with a rating/slope of 73.7/119. The forward tees measure 4,896 yards with a rating/slope of 65.9/105. Green fees are $59 on Friday through Sunday and $54 Monday through Thursday. Twilight rates, beginning at noon, are even less: $44 and $39. While you tee off, keep an eye out for the three very well-fed coyotes who live on this course amid a busy resort area in the heart of central Scottsdale. Call 480-778-0100 or log onto www.scottsdalesilverado.com. Address: 7605 Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85250.

8. Starfire at Scottsdale Country Club: The Scottsdale Country Club was a historic favorite with locals that was beginning to look a little tired around the edges when it was taken over by Celebration of Golf, the firm that renovated Silverado as well. The company gave the course a new name, spiffed up the greens and fairways and is building a brand new clubhouse. This is actually a 27-hole course with three nine-hole courses, where golfers put together two of the courses to make a full round. If you play the East and the South courses, for example, it's 6,093 yards from the back tees (rating/slope 68.9/123) and 4,467 yards from the forward tees (64.8/107). On weekdays, the fee for 18 holes is $69; on weekends it's $79. There are lots of specials, often advertised in local newspapers. After 2 p.m., you can play a round some days for as little as $29. Call 480-948-6000 or log onto www.starfiregolfclub.com. Address: 7702 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85260.

9. Whirlwind Golf Club: This 7,017-yard, par 72 golf course lies inside the Gila River Indian Community. It's a new course designed by Gary Panks amid dramatic stands of mesquite, saguaro cactus, palo verde and cottonwoods. There are views of South Mountain and the Estrella mountains. Usually, the fees here are $125 Fridays through Sundays and $110 Mondays through Thursdays. But the club has been featuring an $85 per person special green fee for anyone presenting a coupon printed off its website. The offer is good through January for up to four people and includes a cart, complimentary balls and breakfast or lunch. Tee times can be made up to five days in advance. Call 480-940-1500 or log onto www.whirlwindgolf.com. Address: 5692 W. North Loop Road, Chandler, AZ 85226.

10. Wildfire Golf Club: Just in time for the winter crowds, the very popular Wildfire Club is adding a course designed by Nick Faldo to its original Arnold Palmer-designed course, which opened in 1997. The Faldo Course, opening January 18, is about 400 yards shorter than the Palmer Course (7,170 yards from the back tees with a rating/slope of 73.3/135; 5,505 yards from the forward tees with a rating/slope of 73.3/126), but the Faldo fairways are quite narrow and have more of a links style.

Both courses have a desert flavor, but the Faldo course has almost 100 bunkers. Right now, estimates are that green fees will be slightly lower on the new course so that the Faldo course could cost about $90 on weekdays and $100 on Fridays through Sundays. The Palmer goes for $125 and $145.

If these predicted prices hold true, it would be a great chance to try a new, interesting course at a reasonable price. There are often other special rates and two-for-one deals featured on the Wildfire website. For example, when we looked at the site, there was a coupon that allowed a foursome to play for the price of three, and it was a price that was good through April 28.

The course does have a 48-hour cancellation policy. Call 888-705-7775 or 480-473-0205 or log onto www.wildfiregolf.com. Address: 5225 E. Pathfinder Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85054.

Rebecca LarsenRebecca Larsen, Contributor

Rebecca Larsen is a former features and assistant features editor for the Marin Independent Journal, a medium-sized daily paper located north of San Francisco. She has also worked for the Milwaukee Journal and for a Chicago public relations firm. She has a bachelor's in journalism from Northwestern University and a master's from the University of California at Berkeley.


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