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|No. 6 at Raven Golf Club at Verrado sets the tone for a great day of golf. (William Wolfrum/WorldGolf.com)|
It happens every year. Come December, when the icy winds start howling in northern states like Washington, Montana and Colorado, the snowbirds make their migration.
Every year a bevy of travelers descend upon Arizona. These "snowbirds," as they've become known, are normally retirees looking to escape the frigid northern climes and bask away in the Arizona sun for the winter.
It tends to be a fine deal for all involved, as those who live year-round in Arizona will rent out homes and apartments to visitors, who flood the economy with their cold-weather cash.
Many of the snowbirds come in RVs and will tow a car in, making their home in such places as Quartsite, Ariz., a small town near the California border that sees its population explode from a few thousand to nearly a million in the winter months, as its 70-plus mobile home and trailer parks quickly fill up.
With so many visitors, you know there are plenty of golfing snowbirds that make come home to roost in Arizona during the winter.
So for those snowbirds who like to experience the Arizona roads in their RVs and cars, here are a few road trips to some fun golfing destinations throughout the state.
Turquoise Valley Golf Club: For a snowbird, there's no better place to play than a place that was resurrected by a fellow snowbird. Located in Naco, Ariz., near the Mexican border, Turquoise Valley had fallen on hard times when Canadian sheep farmer Peter Lawson along with wife Leslie visited in 1996.
"Peter fell in love with the place at first sight," said General Manager Pete Campbell. "He negotiated to buy it, got an agreement and then sold his sheep farm. The first thing he wanted to do was expand the course from nine holes to 18."
Lawson also decided to give the course some bite, especially with the creation of "the Rattler," a monstrous 747-yard par 6 that will leave golfers speechless, if not just plain weary. Don't fret, however, as Turquoise Valley is also home to an RV park.
Raven Golf Club at Verrado: About an hour or so outside of Scottsdale, the Raven is a course worth a day trip. Amazing service, they'll even make sure you stay hydrated by offering free bottled water every three holes. And the golf itself is earning raves at this run where kindness is king.
"This is one entertaining battle of golf. It's desert golf with devilish greens, scenic golf that doesn't just sit there and look pretty," wrote Chris Baldwin in a review for GolfArizona.com. "Raven Verrado will slap you across the cheek just as you're admiring its vistas."
Sedona Golf Resort: Only a couple hours south of the Grand Canyon, the red rocks of Sedona give the golf course a charm and look all it's own.
"The towering red rocks are named after what they are shaped like," Baldwin wrote. "One of the most famous is Snoopy Rock, which is purported to look like the cartoon Snoopy lying on his back on top of his doghouse."
The Gary Panks design will take sightseeing off your mind, however, as you'll be challenged with blind shots, elevated tees and more, and do it for less than you would at most of the big-name Phoenix-Scottsdale courses.
Some other runs that snowbirds should nest in at least for a round include OakCreek Country Club in Sedona, a Robert Trent Jones Sr., and Jr. design. Mountain at Ventana Canyon in Tucson, is a brilliant Tom Fazio design that true hardcore golfers just wouldn't want to miss. And then there's Dinosaur Mountain Course at Gold Canyon Golf Resort, which is 40 miles outside of Phoenix, but a scenic delight that will give a golfer amazing looks and feels, as well as a somewhat brutal 143 slope rating.
So snowbirds, take to flight and get yourself to some of these great Arizona golfing options. They'll leave you with plenty of memories for you to take back north.
December 22, 2006
William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.
The unlikely ascent of Severiano Ballesteros to the top echelon of golf is dramatized in the new film "Seve: The Movie," which is being released in select theaters throughout the U.S. in March and April. It skillfully interweaves documentary footage and dramatizations of formative events during Seve's childhood in rural Spain.
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