DOWN THE MIDDLE
Sometimes, when you and your buddies have your hearts set on playing thirty-six holes a day, a mix of upper-tier and mid-range courses is desirable. One way to schedule your rounds efficiently is through the "Golf Bank" at Resort Suites, which can help secure tee times at more than twenty local courses. Among the area's big pluses is that it's easy to navigate by car, but take your time— Scottsdale police have speed traps in all kinds of sneaky places.
Resort Suites (Scottsdale)
888-997-5792; resortsuites.com; $249/night. In the heart of North Scottsdale, this is the region's premier property for vacationing golf buddies. Perfect location adjacent to the TPC of Scottsdale and five minutes from Grayhawk and Kierland. Great golf-concierge services, too.
Gold Canyon, Dinosaur Mountain Course
480-982-9449; gcgr.com; $185. As of April 10, rates tumble to $115 during the week, but the scenery and layout at this Dinosaur are top-tier in every respect. Gold Canyon is a healthy forty-five-minute trek east of Phoenix–North Scottsdale but well worth the trip.
480-488-7434; legendtrailgc.com; $185. Prices come down May 1, then drop by more than half on June 1; either way, let this Rees Jones desert design in the farthest reaches of North Scottsdale be your splurge. In the eleventh and fourteenth holes, the rugged back nine boasts two of the valley's best par fours.
480-807-5400; longbowgolf.com; $99. Your gang will have nothing but fun at this Ken Kavanaugh design in Mesa. The Redan-style par-three seventh, a nifty set of risk-reward par fives, camera-worthy views of Red Mountain and the Superstitions and a friendly price tag make Longbow worth the half-hour journey from North Scottsdale.
Talking Stick, North Course
480-860-2221; talkingstickgolfclub.com; $170. Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore are renowned for their craftsmanship, and you won't find a more artfully sculpted set of bunkers in Arizona than at this Troon-managed Scottsdale track on tribal land. Greens fees plunge by $50 after April 3.
Barcelona (Continental): 480-603-0370. The paella and
citrus-marinated pork tenderloin are house specials, but
it's the great-looking crowd and late-night dancing that
keep folks around.
Z Tejas Grill (Southwestern): 480-948-9010. Classic entrées with Southwestern kick. Try Tom Lehman's favorite, the Voodoo Tuna, as well as the unique ancho-chile fudge pie for dessert.
Desert Storm Hummer Tours: 480-922-0020, dshummer.com . There's no better way to get an up-close-and-personal experience with the desert and mountains east of Phoenix than with this rigorous but unforgettable tour.
Major League Baseball: 602-514-8400, azdiamondbacks.com . Twelve teams call Arizona their spring training home—check mlb.com for schedules. The Arizona Diamondbacks play in Phoenix from early April through late September (and occasionally beyond).