Marriott's Camelback Golf Club
7847 N. Mockingbird Lane, Scottsdale; 480-596-7050 (www.camelbackinn.com). Resort course yardage: 6,903. Slope: 116. Club course yardage: 7,014. Slope: 119. Par: 72 (Both). Architects: Arthur Hills (Resort); Arthur Jack Snyder (Club). Green fees: $40-$155 (Resort); $30-$105 (Club). Walking: No.
T&L GOLF Rating: ****
Yes, Virginia, $16 million can buy happiness. That was the tab after Marriott dynamited its toothless Padre course and replaced it with the classically styled Resort course. We're talking high risk-reward gratification here: Three of the four par fives are genuine eagle opportunities, including the 518-yard eighteenth, reachable with two precise metals that must skirt a tee-to-green lake and some persnickety greenside bunkering. Lunch and post-round libations in the new Sante Fe adobe-style clubhouse are highly recommended: Order the Arizona hot wings, and wash 'em down with an Electric Watermelon!
The Phoenician Golf Club
6000 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale; 480-423-2449 (www.thephoenician.com). Yardage: 3,250 (Oasis nine); 3,060 (Desert nine); 3,008 (Canyon nine). Par: 35 (all nines). Slope: 130 (Oasis-Desert, Canyon-Oasis); 131 (Desert-Canyon). Architects: Arthur Jack Snyder (Oasis and Desert originals); Homer Flint (Oasis and Desert redesigns); Ted Robinson (Desert redesign, Canyon). Green fees: $90-$170. Walking: No.
T&L GOLF Rating: ****
Three years ago, playing the five-star Phoenician was little more than an eighteen-hole tune-up for Scottsdale's A-game courses. No more. The hotel revamped and rejuvenated the original course, then added a sexy new target-style nine (Canyon) that parlays a gorgeous Camelback Mountain setting. Cock your Nikon on the Desert nine's 120-yard eighth, a rollicking, downhill par three that combines nothing-but-net precision with a postage-stamp green framed by stunning views of metro Phoenix.
In just the past few years, Scottsdale has witnessed an explosive surge in new upscale hotels, while many of the city's better resort properties have spent millions of dollars in renovations, additions and upgrades. At the forefront are four distinctive properties. (Prices are seasonal.)
34631 N. Tom Darlington Drive, Carefree; 800-553-1717 (wyndham.com). Rates: $195-$625 (casitas); $475-$1,045 (two-bedroom villas).
The Boulders, the first and last word in area lodging, is as ethereal as it is compelling. Amenities include a superb thirty-six-hole golf complex, tennis, swimming, a fitness center and a Golden Door Spa (slated to open in September). The 160 adobe-style resort casitas (and fifty one-, two- and three-bedroom villas) are posh and low profile—all clustered amid twelve-million-year-old granite rock outcroppings. Ask about the four-night Gold Medal Golf package, which includes daily breakfast and three days of golf for two people.
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale
at Troon North
10600 E. Crescent Moon Drive, Scottsdale; 480-515-5700 or 888-207-9696 (fourseasons.com). Rates: $175-$650 (casita rooms); $495-$4,000 (casita suites).
Ensconced within a cathedral of granite boulders and saguaro cacti, the Four Seasons is Scottsdale's newest upscale resort. The intimate hideaway offers tennis, swimming, a fitness complex, a full- service spa and a supervised children's center—and scores major points for its close proximity to and preferred tee times at Troon North. Casitas are adobe-style, each generously appointed and every one offering views of the Sonoran Desert. The one-night Monument package includes breakfast and a round of golf at Troon North.