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Phenomenal Phoenix for great getaway golf!

© By Mike Keenan
 

Let's say that Mother Nature has been more than favourable to Phoenix and its surrounding territory. In contrast to the wetness of the west coast's north, Phoenix basks in sunshine more often than any other major metropolitan area in the U.S. The glorious sun shines here 85 percent of the daylight hours or more than 310 days per year! Not hard to take for the outdoor sports enthusiast, recreational hiker and biker or poor souls seeking relief from aching and aging bones.

 
Click for Phoenix, Arizona Forecast

     To complete the weather scorecard, Phoenix accumulates an average annual rainfall of 7.66 inches, boasts an average annual temperature of 23 C (72.6 Fahrenheit) and an average annual high temperature of 29 C (85 F). Phoenix's low humidity renders summer heat more comfortable than other hot climates. The average high temperature in winter is 19 C (67 F), and travelers should bring a light sweater and jacket from November through March. Starting to understand why snowbirds flock each winter to Arizona? Another bonus - no tar balls!
     The sport of golf thrives in Arizona although the hazards here may seem unique. How often in Ontario do you locate a golf ball lodged firmly in a Saguaro cactus? Don't try to recover it. Play a new ball.

Cholla Cactus Hazard  Hole In One  Sonoran Desert, Red Rock Park

     Greater Phoenix's golfing roots are a century old. In 1910, nine holes were laid out on oiled dirt at the Ingleside Inn in sleepy Scottsdale. Early courses were built near canals and irrigated by canal water. Now, Scottsdale is home to the FBR Open, which annually attracts 500,000 fans to the TPC at Scottsdale, making it the best-attended event on the PGA Tour. TPC means Tournament Players Club. Since the first TPC Sawgrass opened in 1980, the PGA Tour's TPC Network of golf clubs have maintained a reputation for outstanding PGA Tour golf properties across the U.S.
     Set in the striking Sonoran Desert, surrounded by the majestic McDowell Mountains, the TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course was designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, and has a reputation for a masterful mix of challenge and playability for professional and amateur alike. A la YMCA philosophy, a benefit of the TPC Network is that membership in one may earn you, as well as your family and guests, playing privileges at other professional golf clubs in the TPC Network, an opportunity for duffers to live out the PGA Tour experience.
     TPC of Scottsdale's Stadium and Desert courses are both open to the public. The Boulders Golf Club's North and South courses, also designed by Jay Morrish, are among the most challenging and scenic layouts in the Southwest thanks to the rocky landscape that gives the club its name.
     The Golf Club at The Phoenician Resort has a group of three nines called Canyon, Desert and Oasis. Gainey Ranch Golf Club also boasts three nines, with a waterfall at No. 9 on the Lakes course. The club is private; however, guests at the adjacent Hyatt Resort can play it.
     Robert Trent Jones Jr.'s tough Las Sendas is a public course in Mesa, and it features a double dog-leg par 5 18th. More forgiving yet just as amazing is the Golf Club at Eagle Mountain, which roams through box canyons, across rolling hills and into desert valleys all the while offering panoramic views of Phoenix.
     Troon North is the flagship course for the Scottsdale-based developer and management company Troon Golf, operating more than 140 courses throughout the U.S. and around the world. The Monument and Pinnacle courses weave a patchwork of green in a dramatic Sonoran Desert setting. For sheer beauty, We-Ko-Pa, on Yavapai Nation reservation land, provides matchless mountain vistas, with no development in sight. Just savour the natural beauty.
     The JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa houses the Wildfire Golf Club and features an Arnold Palmer layout with expansive greens and a Nick Faldo-designed target course with nasty, turf-lipped bunkers. At two other resort courses - Whirlwind Golf Club at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Kierland Golf Club at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa - golfers are provided carts equipped with air-conditioning devices that blow aromatherapy-infused air around one's neck during hot summer rounds. Now that's what I call sport!
     One Phoenix course not to be missed is the Arizona Biltmore Resort's Scots-flavoured Links Course, one of two layouts next to the only resort to be inspired by the genius of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
     For impatient types who want to hit the greens as soon as they touch down in the Sonoran Desert, the Raven Golf Club at South Mountain is
a parkland course lined with mature pines and located minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Just across the street, another popular 18-hole option is The Legacy Golf Resort.
     If you enjoy the time and metaphor, shoot some eagles at the Raptor and Talon courses at Grayhawk Golf Club or try Rees Jones' Legend Trail Golf Club, which calls itself the "Cypress Point of the Desert." Finally, there are Starfire's three Arnold Palmer layouts at Scottsdale Country Club and the two "Golden Bear" Jack Nicklaus courses at Superstition Mountain.
     Not sick of golf yet? Phoenix boasts eight affordable municipal courses that accommodate a variety of skill levels. The city's Papago Course, one of the top municipal courses in the area, offers beautiful views of impressive red-rock formations on every one of its 18 holes.
     Whatever course you chose to play in the Greater Phoenix area, rest assured that there will be spectacular weather thanks to 310-plus days of annual sunshine, an average temperature of 29 C (85 F) and some of the most progressive irrigation techniques in the country. Thus, when late fall approaches, fellow Ontarians, it's time to pack your bags!

Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.

Photo Credits
Courtesy of the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau

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Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix,_Arizona
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Phoenix
About.com: http://phoenix.about.com/od/attractionsandevents/a/15bestplaces.htm
Greater Phoenix CVB: http://www.visitphoenix.com/index.aspx

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Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
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