Finding value golf in Phoenix/Scottsdale during the peak season
During the peak winter golf season between January and April, fewer golf destinations in the world are more expensive than in Phoenix-Scottsdale. Golfers in wintry northern climates are willing to pay big bucks for sun-splashed emerald fairways that meanders through scenic Sonoran Desert terrain. Many of the top courses in the Valley of the Sun are part of five-star luxury resort properties like Boulders Resort and The Phoenician. But there are ways to save money and experience value golf…even during the peak season.
For starters, stay away from the epicenter of Scottsdale. Generally speaking, the courses in Scottsdale and North Scottsdale are the most coveted and expensive. Yes, the scenery is incredible at courses like Troon North and Boulders, but virtually all of them are over $100 and many of them over $200 and even $300 for a round. Old Town Scottsdale and theses luxury resorts nearby are where most of the tourists stay, and these properties’ reputations are rock-solid over decades of delivering a phenomenal experience, so it’s a simple matter of supply and demand.
Instead, venture to the corners of the desert. The West Valley is a prime example of how far your money can stretch. Near Glendale, Wigwam Golf Resort features 54 holes of golf at a substantial discount compared to Scottsdale resorts.
The same goes for Quintero Golf Club in the far northwest side of the valley. It’s a candidate for the most spectacular course around, but can be played for much less than TPC or Troon. A little farther northwest is the town of Wickenburg, home to Los Caballeros Golf Club (pictured above) and Wickenburg Country Club, two courses that offer great layouts for the money for those who make the trip.
Also, south of Phoenix in Maricopa, Ak-Chin Southern Dunes is by all accounts one of the great five-star experiences in the area. But because it’s somewhat isolated on the far-southern edge of the valley, their rates are much lower than courses like Troon North or TPC Scottsdale.
Play in the afternoon or midweek: The premium tee times in Scottsdale are generally mid-morning. If you’re willing to wait until after lunch, you can find tee times for 25%-40% off. The same goes for playing golf during the week. Not only are tee times less expensive, but hotel rates will be far lower.
Play the waiting game: There are over 200 golf courses around the Valley, so there’s always a first tee open somewhere. Booking a last-minute tee time can save you money but don’t be too picky as to which courses you want to play. On prime time weekends, many of the top courses sell out.
Wait until May: If you’re willing to wait until late-April or May, the temperatures will be warmer but still comfortable, and many snowbirds have retreated to their northern homes. That opens the tee sheets up a little more (there is also more daylight and no chance of a frost delay like in January and February). A recent examination by Golf Advisor found that the combination of overall, conditions and value ratings by reviewers was highest in May.
Look for unlimited golf packages: You can reduce the amount you pay per round by simply playing more golf. Many of the resort courses are multi-course resorts. Check out Whirlwind Golf Club, Arizona Biltmore Golf Club, Talking Stick Golf Club, Wildfire Golf Club and Camelback Mountain. Westin Kierland also features 27 holes and a unique offering of packages and amenities.
Consider municipal courses for value golf: There are quite a few excellent municipal and collegiate golf courses that are more affordable than resort courses. One of the great munis in the country is Papago, which will be the new home of Arizona State University. The TPC Scottsdale Champions course is managed like a tour facility but is very affordable. Phoenix’s Maryvale Golf Course was recently passed over to Grand Canyon University and was renovated into a unique and affordable option near the city.