Golfstruck in the Desert: Chase Winter Blues Away in Sonoran Splendor

Golfstruck in the Desert: Chase Winter Blues Away in Sonoran Splendor

Since the golden age of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, Scottsdale has carved its way into the Golf Hall of Fame with 1,223 holes and 51 golf courses, not to mention an additional 200 courses sprinkled across the greater Valley of the Sun area. Few destinations can rival the pitch perfect golf landscape found in Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert, with its remarkably lush fairways – often bordered by billion-year-old rock formations – and impressive saguaro cacti lining the courses. With 330-plus days of annual sunshine, it’s no wonder why this city is an unparalleled global golf destination.

Grayhawk Golf Club

Grayhawk - Talon Course No. 12

Scottsdale’s acclaimed Grayhawk Golf Club offers two of the Southwest’s most engaging golf experiences – the par-72 Talon course and the par-72 Raptor course. The club opened in 1994 and both courses consistently rank among Scottsdale’s top courses to play. Boasting 36-holes of desert golf, this high-end facility provides superior course conditions and offers a thrilling challenge that commands a player’s respect.

Both courses have a lot to offer when it comes to difficulty and scoring. We found the Grayhawk’s Raptor course a juggernaut of links requiring laser focus. The scenery put us under its spell with panoramic views of the McDowell Mountains. The Tom Fazio designed course, measuring 7,151 yards, features rolling fairways with beautiful multi-tiered bent grass greens, with tempting undulation, that will challenge your short game. Fazio also utilized numerous swales and vast bunkers, many of which are steep, adding drama as well as aesthetic value to the course.

Grayhawk - Raptor Course No. 8

Grayhawk - Talon Course No. 9

Many of the tough holes require some finesse, so knowing where to miss is key, while the easier holes have many options off the tee and reward creativity. With some occasional narrow fairways, strategic bunker placements and longer par 3’s, Raptor can present a tenacious challenge for any level of golfer. Your approach shots are everything. Miss your target landing zone by a few feet and you’re staring at bogie. Being a bit more exposed to the wind, the demand for precise shots is greater, but good shots are rewarded and birdies can be made on any hole.

Make no mistake, this is the sunseeker’s ideal winter golf escape. Located within a radius of only a few miles of The Boulders, We-Ko-Pa, and Talking Stick as possible places to stay while exploring Grayhawk Golf Club.

Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale

Mountain Shadows Resort - Short Course View

Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale is a refreshing upscale resort with on trend roots in 1950s modernism. Golf aficionados, meet the only 18-hole, par-3 course in Arizona known as The Short Course. Views of the iconic Camelback Mountain begin to cascade into your round of golf; for snowbird golfers from the eastern seaboard, this proves particularly thrilling. With an emphasis on fun for the casual golfer, while presenting hearty challenges for the serious pro. At just 2,310 yards from the back tees, each hole offers complex undulated greens, rising ridges and dramatic slopes. While brute strength, distance and power are not required, the course layout and scoring angles can constantly change depending on your chosen tee marker.

Originally designed by golf course architect Arthur Jack Snyder in 1961, the remake of this much-celebrated course has been meticulously executed to please a new generation of golfers. Entrusted to the care of golf architect Forrest Richardson, who worked with Snyder for more than 25 years, the rebirth of the course continues to wow locals and international guests alike.

Mountain Shadows Resort - The Residences

Mountain Shadows Resort - Camelback Presidential Suite Terrace

The Citizens Club Pool

When the resort first opened in 1959, Mountain Shadows won the heart of Hollywood. This secluded desert oasis quickly became a fancy-free playground for big-name entertainers—think Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Sammy Davis Jr. Westroc Hospitality invested $100 million to rebuild this desert icon from the ground up. The renewed Mountain Shadows resort opened in 2017, luring discerning travelers with a posh new lodging choice in the Phoenix-Scottsdale market.

The resort, with 183 rooms and 42 condominiums and suites, takes full advantage of its Sonoran desert setting. The design endows Mid-Century modern motifs with a decidedly contemporary spin. The interiors wink playfully at the property’s heritage. Floor-to-ceiling glass along with flowing alfresco areas give a spine-tingling sense of forgetting whether you’re inside or out.

Hearth ’61

Mountain Shadows Resort - Hearth '61 Patio

After a full day on the course, tuck into a hearty dinner at Hearth ’61. Located just inside the entrance to Mountain Shadows, Hearth ’61 is open and airy, and radiates a welcoming vibe. The venue honors the town’s origins by gathering guests around robust food and upbeat conviviality. Serving seasonal American fare with Mediterranean influences, Chef Charles Wiley takes inspiration from time-honored flavor pairings. Ingredient-driven cuisine is served up around the massive “statement” hearth at the center of the exhibition kitchen. Sunday Brunch spotlighting divine Bloody Marys is the real deal here, snag a table and watch the scene wake up to piping hot specialty coffee concoctions.

TPC Scottsdale

It is no wonder that professionals and amateurs alike consider TPC Scottsdale, offering 36 holes of championship golf, to be one of Arizona’s top golf destination properties. Designed by the team of Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, the Stadium and Champions courses opened in 1987 and appeals to all levels of ability. With two spectacular layouts to choose from, the biggest challenge may be deciding which course to play first.

As the PGA TOUR stop with the largest crowds of any golf event in the world, the Waste Management Phoenix Open brings immeasurable attention to TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course, renovated in 2014. The end result was more aesthetically pleasing to resort guests and strategically more challenging to PGA TOUR players.

16th Hole at The Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale

Rickie Fowler during the Waste Management Phoenix Open

Throughout the course, players will find an ideally balanced layout that blends challenge and playability. Big-shouldered fairways are framed by boulders that amaze almost as much as they aim to stupefy. Course conditions are top notch and having a chance to play where the pros do is always a treat. The final stretch of holes on the back nine were designed to add drama for when the PGA Tour rolls through town. This final stretch includes an island green par 5, the 16th hole that transforms into “The Coliseum” during the Phoenix Open – (providing fans with one of the most exciting par-3 settings in professional sports), a drivable par 4, and a stout finishing two-shotter over water. Arrive early to take advantage of some of the best practice facilities available anywhere.

TPC Scottsdale - Saturday at the Phoenix Open

Stay at the prestigious AAA 5-Diamond Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort, adjacent to the golf course and delivering the utmost luxury in service and accommodations. Six pools, including the newly opened Sunset Beach with 9,000 square feet of white sand, and a Trailblazers Kids Club has families raving about the Princess too. The Fairmont-operated dining offering at the clubhouse is Toro Latin Restaurant and Rum Bar by Richard Sandoval. Serving chef specialties with a Pan Latin flair overlooking the 18th green, the restaurant features a sushi and ceviche bar, wok dishes, grilled entrees and the Valley’s largest selection of 105 different rums.

The Westin Kierland Golf Club

Westin Kierland Golf Club - Acacia Course

The Westin Kierland Golf Club, designed by Scott Miller, features 27 holes that form a cohesive collection of nines: Acacia, Ironwood, and Mesquite. Each nine marinates in its own flavor and structure, each enjoyable and challenging and can be combined a la carte to create an 18-hole experience. With multiple tee boxes available at each course, golfers are ensured over 6900 yards from the tips on distinct desert-style layouts.

Kierland’s park-like setting makes the perfect place to savor the essence of true resort-style, championship-level, desert golf. Enjoy the spacious greens and expansive fairways on each nine, but try your hardest to avoid the 300+ bunkers, large lakes and dry washes if you’d like to shoot a score worth bragging about.

Silicon Valley touches like Segway Golf are much touted by repeat guests; golfers traverse the course on a Segway specially crafted to carry clubs. Golf Bikes and TurfRiders allow golfers to cycle the course and Golfboards, which golfers can use to “surf the earth” while golfing. Of course, you can still rent an air-conditioned golf cart, which blows cool air on the back of your neck to keep you crisp and comfortable.

The venues of the property are resplendent with artwork that paints a colorful portrait of Arizona’s forebears – Native Americans, pioneers, artisans, rogues. Explorers and history makers – that helped shape the state’s cultural heritage.

Set on 250 acres in North Scottsdale, The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa provides contemporary design paired with an evolving collection of signature experiences. We especially love the kindred nightly series dubbed “Bagpipes at Sunset” — a celebration of the Scottsdale Scottish heritage.

This unforgettable property offers accommodation ranging from well-appointed hotel rooms to spacious Casita suites. Serving as the perfect home base, each spacious room provides luxurious amenities, stunning views of the surrounding area, private balconies and patios and the Westin brand’s signature Heavenly Beds. While kids enjoy the onsite Aquaventure water park, couples relax at the sparkling adults-only pool, frosty margaritas in hand.

The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa - Skywatch

Westin Kierland Golf Club - Mesquite Course Hole 5

Agave, The Arizona Spa, is a must. Picture a rejuvenating destination showcasing rare, desert-inspired treatments and you’re practically there. On the gastro front, Nuevo-Latino cuisine from James Beard Award-winner Chef Douglas Rodriguez over delivers on many dishes. As a golf resort, a family getaway, and a corporate retreat, the Westin Kierland is a clear standout in Scottsdale.

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