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Heading to Arizona: Which Phoenix/Scottsdale golf resort is right for me?

Scott BordowBy Scott Bordow,
The Phoenician resort
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The Phoenician resort: the ideal place to take kids. (Courtesy of The Phoenician)

One of the benefits of taking a golf trip to Phoenix/Scottsdale is that many of the great courses are partnered with some of the best resorts in the area.

Visitors hit the daily double: Play a memorable 18 holes in the morning/afternoon and then enjoy the luxury or nightlife at the nearby resort. The best part is that it's possible to do all of it without having to drive a single mile.

Here are just some of the possibilities:

Family golf trip

"I want to take the whole family out on the golf course."

The Phoenician resort is the ideal place to take the kids out for a few holes without worrying about the pace of play. All three of the nine-hole courses -- Desert, Canyon, and Oasis -- are meant to be enjoyed, not endured.

That doesn't mean the courses are of the pitch-and-putt variety; They'll still challenge bogey golfers. But a family can while away a couple of hours without having its brains beat in.

"There are so many golfers (who) don't like losing 12 golf balls and having forced carries on every single hole," Director of Golf Kevin Betts said. "On this golf course you can roll the ball from the tee box to the green on almost every hole other than the par 3s."

Be gone, cold

"I'm snowed in up north and just want affordable, convenient golf in the sunshine."

Here are three reasons visitors will love playing Legacy Golf Club, part of the Legacy Golf Club resort in south Phoenix:

The Legacy's fairways are wide enough to land a 747. This isn't a desert course with landing areas as narrow as a supermodel's waist. The prices: Even in the peak tourist season of January-April, the Legacy's most expensive rate is $119. Other resort courses charge more than $200 for 18 holes. And in the summer, tee times can be had for as low as $20. It's one of the best bargains in town.

Also, the resort is less than 15 minutes from Sky Harbor Airport and within five minutes of a major freeway and shopping mall. And Legacy is great for the kids, too; the resort includes a playground, a wading pool, tennis courts and a sand volleyball court.

Follow the PGA Tour pros

"I want to stay-and-play where the pros compete and stay themselves."

This one is easy: Stay at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort and play the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale, site of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

The course, as one might imagine for PGA Tour site, is always in superb condition. And it's a kick playing the same 18 holes as Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson. The best part: Standing on the tee of the infamous, par-3 16th hole and imagining 20,000 rowdy spectators booing if your shot misses the green. Even on the relative silence of, say, a fall Wednesday morning it's a nerve-wracking experience.

Chasing history

"Dare I ask if there is any 'historic' golf resort in the Valley with some golden era-style golf?"

The Wigwam Resort in the West Valley is about as historic as it gets for Arizona golf. The three courses -- two of which were designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. -- are odes to the past with their gentle doglegs, tree-lined fairways and straightforward sightlines.

Plus, the resort itself -- which was built in 1918 -- has been renovated by a group run by Jerry Colangelo. It still has the charms of the old west but also amenities such as five-star restaurants, concierge service and same-day laundry.

Hit balls in the desert

"Where can I play quintessential desert golf?"

For the Valley's most visually spectacular desert golf and luxurious accommodations, head north from Scottsdale to the Boulders Resort. Home to Waldorf Astoria-brand large, casita-style rooms and the Golden Door Spa set around million-year-old boulder piles, it's a setting as serene as golf in the Sonoran desert can get. The two, 18-hole golf courses present some of the most dramatic vistas around, playing around mighty boulder piles while other spots take you by balancing stones like Rosie's Rock.

Additionally, those staying at Boulders are just minutes north of Troon North Golf Club (which partners with the nearby Four Seasons Resort at Troon North), another stellar 36-hole facility that presents some of Scottsdale's finest desert scenery -- not to mention one of the best championship-caliber designs as well.

Hit the books

"Any golf resorts with particularly good golf academies and teaching programs?"

Orange Tree Golf Club, part of the Orange Tree Resort, is home to the John Jacobs' Golf Schools and Academies.

The golf school, which caters to beginning golfers as well as low-handicappers, has two or four-day schools starting every Monday and two-day schools starting every Saturday and Sunday.

Rates run from $125 to $1,095. Golfers can stay at the resort, which has 160 guest suites.

Looking for the best

"I want luxury, sophistication and top-notch service, both on the course and in the hotel."

It's hard to beat the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa and Kierland Golf Club. The resort is located in the heart of north Scottsdale, within walking distance of several tony stores and shopping malls.

Kierland Golf Club, meanwhile, is one of the more unique golfing experiences in the Valley. The three sets of nines -- Acacia, Mesquite and Ironwood -- are well designed, but they take a back seat to Kierland's specialties.

Golfers can tool around the course on a rented, custom-built Segway, and a bagpiper will emerge late in the afternoons near the ninth green of the Acacia course to regale golfers with sounds from Ireland.

It's just business

"I'll be down in Phoenix with a few co-workers and need to be close to the convention center, where should we stay and play?"

Downtown Phoenix isn't a mecca for golfers, but a nearby alternative is the Arizona Biltmore resort and its Adobe Course and Links Course. Both 18-hole designs were built in 1928; they're far more reminiscent of gentle Midwest courses than the desert golf for which Arizona is known.

The resort itself long has been considered one of the best places to stay in Arizona. It also offers an amenity not available at many resorts: Child care.

That's a nice perk for players who want to spend a few hours knocking golf balls around the Adobe or Links Courses.

With more than 100,000 square feet of meeting space and a location just south of Phoenix, the Arizona Grand is one of Phoenix's top golf resorts for events. Its versatile, beginner-friendly golf course delivers a fantastic, all-natural back nine stretch along South Mountain Park preserve.

Looking for a little casino action too

Can I golf and gamble in Scottsdale?

You bet, thanks to the brand new Talking Stick Resort. With a slick, full-service casino floor complete with table games and a poker room, it complements the 36 holes of naturally laid out Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw-designed golf that surrounds it. In the spring time, it's a quick shuttle to Salt River Fields for Spring Training action, while summer months give way to rousing pool parties.

We-Ko-Pa is another development set on native American land that allows full-service gaming. While the hotel isn't much compared to Talking Stick, We-Ko-Pa Golf Club is one of the highest-rated 36-hole golf facilities in Arizona.

More photos

Legacy Golf ClubTPC Scottsdale Stadium Course - 16th holeWigwam resort - Gold Course - 10thTroon North - Monument golf course - 1st green

Scott Bordow is the golf columnist for the Arizona Republic. Follow him on Twitter at @sbordow.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • comment

    jelly andrews wrote on: Jan 7, 2013

    Wow! Amazing photo! I love the place. Thanks for sharing this. I wish I could visit that place too.


      • RE: comment

        kaitlinray wrote on: Feb 5, 2013

        Nice place for family outing and thanks for sharing... Scott