Make no mistake: In high season, you can spend a bundle at the top golf resorts and courses, with rack rates at many hotels more than $400 per night and golf over $200 a round. But sometimes there's nothing more satisfying than a big splurge. As Del Cochran once said about playing his Grayhawk Golf Club, "It's like eating at a fancy French restaurant. You don't do it every day. It's supposed to be a treat." So if you and your pals are into treating yourselves to the best around, this is your trip.
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
800-344-4758; fairmont.com; from $419/night. The best for a spare-no-expense buddy trip. Within fifteen minutes are some of the valley's best restaurants. On property, you've got quality cocktailing and the highest-rated Mexican restaurant in all the United States, La Hacienda.
Grayhawk, Talon Course
480-502-1800; grayhawkgolf.com; $170–$210. Grayhawk didn't invent "country club for a day," but it may have perfected it in the 1990s, when Phil's Grill (yes, named for Mickelson) was a magnet for Tour pros. Lefty has since moved to San Diego, but the 'Hawk is still brimming with ambiance, e.g., classic rock piped to the range. The Tom Fazio–designed Raptor course hosts more big events, but the David Graham and Gary Panks–crafted Talon offers more drama, as at the par-three eleventh, where golfers traverse a swinging bridge to reach the back tee.
Troon North, Monument Course
480-585-5300; troonnorthgolf.com; $170–$295 through May 13, then prices fall for summer. This Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish layout remains a monument to excellence in desert design. The third hole, with its gigantic boulder in the fairway, and the fourteenth, which doglegs endlessly to the right, are two of the best three-shotters in the region.
480-836-9000; wekopa.com; $160–$195 through April 30; rates fall as of May 1. We-Ko-Pa's strategy-laced design, with a handful of split fairways and reachable par fours and fives, shows off the natural beauty of the desert to full effect, as no homes or roads mar the course. A 247-room Radisson hotel recently opened on-site and a new Coore-Crenshaw course will debut in December.
Mastro's (Steak): 480-585-9500. This consummate North
Scottsdale power spot is equal parts people watching and
serious eating, with huge, sizzling steaks that spill over
the edge of the plate.
Tommy Bahama's Tropical Café & Emporium (Caribbean): 480-607-3388. The laid-back tropical lifestyle is celebrated at this Kierland Commons eatery; the "Island Cowboy" tenderloin is a winner.
Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving: 800-842-7223, bondurant.com. The Bondurant School has educated everyone from NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson to Senator John McCain's wife, Cindy, in the adrenalized art of racecar driving. Group programs, go-carts, gear and apparel—it's all a-go-go here.
Phoenix Suns: 602-379-7867, nba.com/suns. Reigning league MVP Steve Nash and the gang remain one of the NBA's most exciting teams.