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A long weekend in Phoenix will have golfers fulfilled

By S. Adam Cardais,
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Wigwam's renovated Gold Course is a must for any long weekend in Phoenix. (GolfPublisher.com)

Every golfer dreams of spending a couple of weeks touring the world-class courses in a destinations like Phoenix.

Because dreams don't often jibe with reality, there's the three-day weekend.

Done right, three days can be just enough to indulge your golf jones and get some much needed R&R. The Phoenix area has plenty to offer both on and off the course, from the plush fairways at the Raven at Verrado to the spicy tuna at RA Sushi Bar.

Here's a long-weekend itinerary with tips on where to stay and where to play.

Friday

Arrive early and drop your stuff. One of the best places to check in is the JW Marriott Desert Ridge. One of Phoenix's largest and newest resorts, the Desert Ridge has 950 rooms, proximity to 36 holes at the Wildfire Golf Club and a playground of off-course entertainment, with great restaurants, shopping and even a water park nearby.

If you're more interested in getting in touch with Arizona history, stay at the Arizona Biltmore. Partially designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and once Phoenix's biggest resort, the Biltmore was called the "Jewel of the Desert" when it opened in 1929.

Situated? Good. Stretch the golf muscles with a round at the Nick Faldo course at the Wildfire. Popular with tourists and locals, this 6,846-yard layout is heavy on the bunkers, but its wide landing areas will help you stay out of the sand.

Probably best to take it is easy on the first night. For a low-key dinner, head to Harris' Restaurant for steak, or check out the exceptional appetizer menu at Eddie Matney's.

Saturday

Give your game a real test at the Wigwam Resort and Golf Club in Litchfield Park. Wigwam recently spent $5 million renovating two of its three Robert Trent Jones Sr. courses, the Blue and the Gold.

If you have to choose one, go with the 7,300-yard Gold Course, TravelGolf.com West Coast Bureau Chief Chris Baldwin recommends.

"The Gold Course renovation, while not as dramatic in some ways, is liable to intrigue recreational golfers even more," Baldwin wrote for GolfArizona.com. "For on the Gold all the bunkers have been completely redone to make it play like Jones designed it to play."

This being the last night of your trip, it's time to do the town. Hit up RA Sushi Bar in Scottsdale, winner of City Search's 2004 award for are area's best sushi. After dinner, sample one of 30 specialty martinis at the Martini Ranch.

Sunday

The last morning of a long weekend is can the moment when you begrudgingly snap back to reality. Best to put that moment off as long as possible. Keep the dream alive with a round at the Raven at Verrado.

Esteemed architect John Fought was given 8,800 acres to design this course in the foothills of the White Tank Mountains. The usual footprint is about 200 acres.

"We didn't know where to begin," Fought said of the assignment. "It was like being a mosquito in a nudist colony - you know exactly what you want to do, but you don't know where to begin."

The results were impressive. "It's hard to find anything wrong with the Raven at Verrado," Brendan McEvoy wrote in a 2004 GolfArizona.com review. "In all, [it] is a sublime experience."

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