What's the formula for a terrific buddy trip?Well, it starts with the promise of tons of sun, and it probably ends with a healthy dose of the local nightlife. In between, it's about great golf. The Grand Canyon State delivers on all counts. From the ponderosa pines and 7,000-foot elevation of Flagstaff to the juniper, sagebrush and red rock–filled high deserts of Sedona and Prescott to the cactus-covered mountain slopes of Greater Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona offers a much greater diversity of golf environments than some might think. Best of all, there are fistfuls of courses, hotels, restaurants and off-course activities to fit every budget. Maybe you want to test yourself on the trophy tracks, or maybe you're just looking for a few good places to horse around with your pals. Either way, we guarantee one of these Arizona golf buddy trips will be a highlight of your year.
In high season, from January through April, golf bargains may be scarce but good values are out there if you know where to look. A vast array of courses awaits, from traditional, tree-lined tracks to target-style desert layouts, and the roster includes a fair number of value-oriented places. Big-city attractions such as pro sports and top resorts, plus tribal casinos and gentlemen's clubs, if you're so inclined, make this area the undisputed buddy-trip capital of Arizona. No matter what you're looking to spend, this is the place to start.
Embassy Suites Phoenix-Scottsdale
800-362-2779; embassysuites.com; $189/night. This Hilton-affiliated chain offers buddy value in the form of complimentary breakfast, newspaper and evening manager's reception. The central location, directly adjacent to Stonecreek Golf Club, is superb.
Apache Stronghold (San Carlos)
800-272-2438; golfapache.com; $55. It's a bit of a hike— a little over an hour's drive from Phoenix—but well worth it to play a Tom Doak design for just over fifty bucks. A memorable set of greens, mountain vistas and a hotel-casino next door are highlights.
Papago Municipal (Phoenix)
602-275-8428; phoenix.gov/sports/papago.html; $38/$49 cart. Short on frills, long on value. Not quite Bethpage or Torrey Pines as munis go, but certainly in the next tier. The rolling, traditional layout features ancient stone Papago buttes as backdrops.
602-953-9111; americangolf.com; $79–$115. If you're staying on-site, you'll save on gas. Regardless, you'll enjoy this out-and-back Arthur Hills design that ribbons through a wash and also features elevated greens, views of Mummy Mountain, and the eponymous stone-dappled creek.
TPC of Scottsdale, Desert Course (Scottsdale)
480-585-4334; tpc.com; $60. Little brother to the PGA Tour's Stadium course next door, the Desert is much shorter, with huge greens, but it has many of the same Tom Weiskopf–Jay Morrish touches, and mountain views as handsome as its brawnier sibling's.
Flo's Asian Kitchen (Asian): 480-609-9888. Innovative
cuisine, upscale locations and decor, yet easy on the
Fox Sports Grill (American): 480-368-0369. Putting green, perfect Kierland-area location.
Garduño's (Mexican): 480-607-9222. Festive ambiance, strolling mariachis, tasty margaritas and affordable entrées.