Valley of the Sun Golf: Driving Ambition

Itching to get into the swing of things? Hoping to partake in some course work? Looking to get linked in? In other words, would you rather be golfing? You're in the right place. Despite the dry climate this place is a gold mine of lush greens and far-reaching fairways.

Golf is one of Arizona's leading draws for locals and visitors from around the world. Golf is a big business in the Valley of the Sun, evidenced by the more than 200 courses that consume much of the area and surround some of its finest resorts. Locally based golf companies include PING, which makes golf equipment and apparel, and Dixon Golf, which specializes in balls (and also makes apparel). The Phoenix Open is an annual tournament and weeklong party that takes place in North Scottsdale at the renowned Tournament Players Club (TPC). All of this means there are courses that cater to nearly every skill set and budget. The biggest difficulty is often finding a place and time to play, especially during the busy winter season, when temperatures are mild.

Tee-Time Tips

Because most courses now offer advance booking as well as online demand pricing, what you pay can vary based on the hour, the day of the week, and the weather forecast. You might be able to reserve a tee time 60–90 days in advance by calling a resort concierge or the course's pro shop. For municipal courses, visit To see a list of every course in the Valley, check out

Plan Ahead

Call well ahead for tee times during the cooler months from January to April, especially for popular courses. In summer, it's not uncommon to schedule a round before dawn. If you’re booking a room at a resort with a course, book your tee time then, too. Last-minute tee times are sometimes available through online reservation services, depending on the season.

Perfect Your Golf Swing

Feel like you need to swing like a pro before you take on the Valley of the Sun's premier golf courses? Troon North has a solution: the Callaway Golf Performance Center (480/585–5300 is a state-of-the-art facility that analyzes your swing and fits your clubs with 3D imagery and software designed by the experts at Callaway. Golf greats like Phil Mickelson use similar technologies to perfect their games. With only a handful of facilities like this in the country, it's definitely worth checking out.

Savings Tips

Encanto Park and Papago Golf Course are just two of the city and public courses that are a great value. Check course websites for discounts. Some golf courses offer a discounted twilight rate—and the weather is often much more amenable at this time of day. Fees drop dramatically in summer, but remember that afternoon heat can be sweltering.

"Greener" Greens

Short of creating sand and cactus courses, desert golf facilities are hard-pressed to answer the eco-friendly call, but some are making strides in chipping away their carbon cleat-print. Most courses now use reclaimed water and are experimenting with low-water grasses.

Groups to Guide You

Package deals abound at resorts as well as through booking agencies like Arizona Golf Adventures (800/398–8100, who will plan and schedule a nonstop golf holiday for you. For a copy of the Arizona Golf Guide, contact the Arizona Golf Association (602/944–3035 or 800/458–8484

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