Winter Getaways: Scottsdale Swing
A FAVORITE DESTINATION CONTINUES TO IMPROVE
When something’s so good for so long, it tends to be taken for granted. That’s the battle Scottsdale faces when it competes with other destinations for traveling golfers. But its portfolio simply has too many good courses, perfect weather for most of the year, endless dining options and ever-improving accommodations not to keep the Valley of the Sun high up on the list for a future trip. Here are some of our favorites.
FAIRMONT SCOTTSDALE PRINCESS
You may catch some glimpses of this sprawling resort on TV during the Waste Management Phoenix Open every winter, because the TPC Scottsdale Stadium course, ranked fifth on Golfweek’s 2019 “Best Courses You Can Play in Arizona,” is adjacent to the property. But staying at this area mainstay is another experience altogether, and it’s just gotten even better. A renovation of 458 standard guest rooms and 20 luxury suites was completed last September, providing a fresh look with upscale comforts to cap off a multi-year process that touched all 11 buildings with rooms at the sprawling resort. The Well & Being Spa remains a highly regarded destination to soothe one’s body, while one of six pools at the resort features an actual sand beach. Guests receive a 15 percent discount on green fees at the famed Stadium Course, which can be reached via a complimentary shuttle from the resort to the clubhouse.
This beloved public layout, just a short drive east of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, debuted in 1963, but the present version might be its best ever. With the September 2018 opening of the $6.5 million, 9,000-square-foot Lou Grubb Clubhouse (named in memory of a local automotive business owner and avid golfer), the facility exudes a new energy, with an atmosphere also buoyed by a state-of-the-art practice facility for the Arizona State women’s and men’s golf teams. On the parkland-style course, which features generous fairways and massive greens, you’ll get a close-up look at the red-colored Buttes in adjacent Papago Park from the second green. The 9th and 18th holes offer memorable views as well. You can watch the action on those two holes from the outdoor patio at Lou’s Bar and Grill, where both golfers and local residents enjoy the food and drink.
Long one of the hippest golf hangs in Scottsdale, and a former venue for the PGA Tour’s Frys.com Open (2007 through 2009), Grayhawk jumps back into the national spotlight this May and June when it hosts the Women’s and Men’s NCAA Division I National Golf Championships. It will be interesting to watch the youngsters take on the Raptor course, which opened in 1996. The Tom Fazio design should provide a tough test, with plenty of bunkering and three holes (15, 16 and 17) now settled in after debuting in 2015. The par-5 18th, with a lake on the right side that comes into play on second shots and approaches, remains one of the toughest in the area. Grayhawk’s Talon layout is no slouch either; it’s a bit gentler but no less fun than its counterpart. Be sure to check out the swinging bridge to access the back tee (175 yards) on its picturesque par-3 11th.
The flagship facility of Troon continues to be a must-play three decades after it opened. Both the Pinnacle and Monument layouts are among the Top 10 on Golfweek’s 2019 “Best Courses You Can Play in Arizona.” Why? Each is a classic desert golf layout in stellar condition with a full dose of cacti, arroyos and rock outcroppings that often frame green complexes, plus some cool long-range views of nearby mountains. It’s a coin flip as to which is better, so your best bet is to play both. One piece of advice: Just avoid the giant boulder, sitting in the middle of the third fairway on the Monument Course. The Dynamite Grille remains a worthy dining option and club fittings are available at a Callaway Performance Center in the clubhouse.
IF YOU GO HUNGRY in Scottsdale, well, that’s entirely your fault. At the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Toro is one of the more distinctive golf course clubhouse restaurants in the country, featuring sushi, ceviche and an extensive rum collection. For dessert, try the La Bomba, a chocolate bowl filled with ice cream that turns into a delicious mess after dropped (on purpose) onto your table. Inside the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, La Hacienda was completely renovated in 2018; try the guacamole appetizer with three distinct flavors or the vibrant carne asada. At Grayhawk, Phil’s Grill in the clubhouse retains its comfortable golf hang vibe, and the breakfast options at The Morning Joint — or Mojo for short — near the main entrance are plentiful (try the breakfast burrito). At Papago, favorite options to feast on at Lou’s Grill include specialty pizzas and the French dip.