Planning the ultimate Arizona golf trip? Here are our top five tips for a vacation you’ll remember forever.
This story was created in partnership with Visit Arizona.
1. Work with the Weather, Not Against it
Don’t be fooled by the misconception that Arizona is too hot in the summer—much of the state enjoys perfectly moderate temperatures, year-round. This is particularly true in Northern Arizona and select areas in Southern Arizona, such as Sierra Vista. When recreating outdoors in these areas, you’ll want to check the weather app before you head out. Even if it’s “a sun symbol” all day, it’s wise to prepare for unexpected high-mountain surprises like fast-moving thunderstorms that roll through on summer afternoons. In addition, when you’re at nearly 7,000 feet elevation in Flagstaff, you’ll want to be liberal with the sunblock and hydrate more than usual to combat altitude sickness. (A rare and easily-prevented occurrence.)
Central and Southern Arizona, home to golf meccas such as Phoenix, Sedona, and Tucson, are where Arizona gets a hot reputation during the summer. But, following a few rules of thumb will set your trip up for success. Golf early in the day, be vigilant about your hydration, and don’t skip that sunblock (and a hat is a helpful accessory, too). If you forget to set your alarm, don’t fear. The arid landscape of the southwest means that Arizona’s heat is dry and much more tolerable than humid locales. Plus, discount green fees on select courses make the midday heat a real breeze.
2. Keep a Keen Eye on the Terrain
Arizona greens have another advantage. In practically every case, they’re surrounded by stunning scenery that contrasts with the grass beneath your feet to jaw-dropping effect. Take one look at Sedona’s fairways and you’ll see what we mean. But, this beauty also comes with a set of unique challenges to keep in mind. Rogue swings can send unassuming golf balls into treacherous terrain filled with cacti, rattlesnakes, and even Gila monsters. Talk about hazards. Of course, in the northern region of the state, you are more likely to run into elk off the fairway. No matter where your Arizona golf trip takes you, exercise caution when fetching errant balls or to get a better angle on that photo. In addition to respecting the wildlife, info about how to safely enjoy appreciate and Arizona’s great outdoors here.
3. Incorporate the Grand Canyon (and Route 66) Into Your Arizona Golf Trip
It would be a shame to travel all the way to the Grand Canyon State without visiting its namesake. Grand Canyon National Park is easily incorporated into a week-long (or even shorter) golf trip thanks to Arizona’s easy access points. Just over an hour’s drive from Flagstaff, the South Rim is almost too close to not visit. What’s more, you’ll travel on part of the iconic Route 66 as you journey northward. Talk about checking two bucket list items off at once. For those looking for even more outdoor time, Arizona also has more than 30 State Parks that are worth a visit, too.
4. Don’t Miss One of Arizona’s Quirky Courses
Arizona is home to some particularly noteworthy golf courses that aren’t to be missed. Try out the Short Course at Mountain Shadows in Scottsdale, where a throwback design requires conscious putting. Or, spend the day on the Rancho Course at Tubac Golf Resort & Spa, 45 minutes south of Tucson. You might recognize it from the movie “Tin Cup,” but don’t bother telling the locals. The cows who frequent the course are perfectly content to leave patties on the green, whether or not it’s Hollywood-famous. Finally, you might want to experience a part of the sport’s living legacy at TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course, home to the Waste Management Phoenix Open—the largest spectator golf event in the world. Attend in person in February, or visit any other time during the year to tee off on this historic fairway yourself.
5. See the Pros Putt in Person
Each year, the top golfers in the world congregate in Arizona to compete (further solidifying what a great destination this is to golf, year-round). If you enjoy watching the experts, we recommend planning your trip around one of Arizona’s many annual tournaments. Most are located nearest Phoenix, such as the aforementioned Waste Management Phoenix Open—a favorite for spectators. Alternatively, the Cologuard Classic in Tucson is a great option for those who want to combine their trip with a visit to Saguaro National Park to see world famous cacti that are a true symbol of the American Southwest.