Is Scottsdale America’s Hottest Golf Destination?

Study shows big gains and a recovering economy

Tell-tale signs that Scottsdale’s golf tourism economy is roaring back continue to roll in, this time from the Sports & Leisure Research Group, which found significant growth in the destination’s golf-related fee revenue, average rate per round, and number of rounds played when comparing the first quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2013.

Also, the SLR study showed Scottsdale’s number in golf rounds played increased 10.3 percent, outpacing the growth in the tourist destination’s hotel occupancy, which increased 2.3 percent over the same time period. That growth substantially outpaces the national trend, which showed the number of rounds played had decreased 4.5 percent.

“Golf has always been a significant driver for Scottsdale, but it’s especially encouraging to see that golf rounds are growing while as a nation they’re on the decrease,” said Laura McMurchie, spokesperson for the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “This survey shows us that golf travelers are attracted to Scottsdale for the same reasons as other guests.”

No doubt golf is fueling the area’s experiential fire. More than 200 golf courses are in the surrounding area, many of which were crafted by big-name architects like Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Weiskopf, Jay Morrish, Robert Trent Jones Jr., and Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw. Plus, Scottsdale consistently boasts superb weather, outstanding resorts, eclectic dining, awesome outdoor adventure, luxe shopping and the sumptuous natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert.

Adding to the high-octane mix, three major events—the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Open, as well as the NFL’s Pro Bowl and Super Bowl XLVIII, all scheduled in late January—make Scottsdale and suburban Phoenix the epicenter of the sports world for eight consecutive days.

That’s also when the planet will witness the reopening of the TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course, which underwent an extensive Weiskopf-orchestrated renovation that includes the relocation of four greens, reshaping of every tee complex, reshaping and relocation of all bunkers, new landscaping and new cart paths. The clubhouse also experienced $3 million in renovations, making the Stadium Course a must play.

And if you’re adding items to your Scottsdale bucket list, head over to the newly completed Topgolf Riverwalk, a three-story entertainment complex that offers 102 climate-controlled hitting bays where players hit micro-chipped golf balls into dartboard-like targets at distances varying from 25 to 240 yards. More than a snazzy driving range, the family attraction—located near Talking Stick Golf Club—combines golf with an exciting, interactive ambiance.  

Also, there’s a semi-new kid on the golf block called Verde River Golf & Social Club (formerly Tegavah Golf Club), an 18-hole challenge located just northeast of Scottsdale that, back in 2006, debuted as Vista Verde. Now under new ownership and management, the Ken Kavanaugh-designed daily-fee combines a traditional desert-golf experience with modern elements to provide a serious test that also delivers a lot of fun along the way. 

For more information about Scottsdale vacation experiences, go online to


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Chris Duthie is a contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer, the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via