The Golfer’s Guide to Spring Training in Arizona

Guide to Spring Training
Photo Courtesy: Boulders Resort & Spa

Golf and Baseball: Renewed in the Valley of the Sun.

Welcoming We-Ko-Pa

ON FIRE: Aptly named for its wood-fired grills, Ember provides a smoldering and intimate dining ambiance, exceptional customer service and— of course—the highest quality steaks and seafood.

WeKoPa resort
Photo Courtesy: Lonna Tucker

The folks at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club like to say that at We-Ko-Pa, the Sonoran Desert is your neighbor and the term “high-rise” is either used to describe the ancient saguaros in the foreground or the magnificent mountains in the distance. There are no homes, condos or townhomes anywhere in sight—it’s all about giving you the best chance to experience your best golf. You’ll find it on a pair of award-winning courses, Cholla and Saguaro. Both feature an ideal blend of doglegs and straightaway holes, a mix of slender and ample fair- ways, a balance between benign and rugged green complexes. Before or after your round, you’ll be captivated by We-Ko-Pa’s magnificent clubhouse— replete with stylized detailing and spectacular views of the McDowell Mountains, Red Mountain, Four Peaks and the Superstitions. wekopa.com

WeKoPa Resort

The We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort includes a new 167,000-square-foot gaming facility. The first casino in the Phoenix area, the redesign officially reopened in October and offers guests a larger casino with a garden court, specialty high-end dining, a sports bar with entertainment stage and other best-in-class amenities. wekopacasinoresort.com

The Sonoran Desert
Photo Courtesy: Bryan Altena

The Sonoran Desert landscape of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation is enhanced by the flowing Verde River and the iconic Four Peaks to the east, which rises to more than 7,000 feet. fmyn.org

Salt River Fields
Photo Courtesy: Springtrainingonline.com

Get a head start on what’s sure to be an eventful 2021 season for the Colorado Rockies. Salt River Fields is the home to both the local nine and the Arizona Diamondbacks. The state-of-the-art facility is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. saltriverfields.com

Rio Verde is the Answer

Rio Verde

When he founded Rio Verde Country Club in 1973, Ray King’s vision for the community was a simple one—to be “the Arizona you come to Arizona for.” Mission accomplished. Located just northeast of Phoenix, Rio Verde checks all the boxes, for those who may seek a piece of big-city life amidst the seclusion of their own fetching enclave. Of course, one of the main attractions is the golf: British Open champion Tom Lehman has created a pair of courses designed to both challenge and entertain golfers of all skill levels. Quail Run has all the elements of a traditional golf course, and White Wing plays more as a links style course. Both feature meticulously groomed fairways, greens loaded with personality, and outstanding mountain views. rioverdearizona.com

Boulders Resort and Spa

There’s nothing like a 5,000-year-old technique to make one feel brand new. The Boulders Spa in North Scottsdale offers Ayurvedic massages enriched with locally sourced healing clay. Call ahead to book one of their signature treatments for a truly enchanting spa experience. theboulders.com

Tonto National Forest
Photo Courtesy: Kenny Steil

When you’re not on the golf course, Rio Verde offers a wide variety of activities. The three-million-acre Tonto National Forest and 21,000-acre McDowell Mountain Regional Park borders the community. maricopacountyparks.net

Mastro’s Steakhouse
Photo Courtesy: Mastro’s Steakhouse

Mastro’s Steakhouse in North Scottsdale features a menu filled with the highest quality steaks and seafood, with exceptional service in a cosmopolitan and entertaining atmosphere. After your unforgettable dining experience, get a “Weekend at Home” grill kit to go. mastrosrestaurants.com

Quail Run

The par-3 4th hole at Quail Run is the signature hole of the golf course, which features a large lake coming into play. Quail Run offers scenic views of Four Peaks and the Mazatzal Moun- tains, and on certain holes the Tonto National Forest can be seen. rioverdearizona.com

Longbow’s On Target

FLYING HIGH: Longbow was named after the Apache Long- bow helicopter, which was manufactured by The Boeing Company, across the street from the Longbow Business Park & Golf Club.

Longbow

Located in North Mesa, and just minutes from Old Town Scottsdale, Longbow Golf Club has been honored as one of the “Top 100 Resort Courses in the Country” and ranked as “One of The Top 20 Best Courses You Can Play In Arizona” by Golfweek. Opened in 1997, the Ken Kavanaugh-designed course underwent a renovation and expansion in 2003: the project lengthened the total yardage to 7,050 from the back tees and also included a striking new clubhouse, expanded acreage and totally revamped practice facility. The redesign should appeal to both beginning and advanced players; the layout includes a number of deep, contoured fairway bunkers, as well as rolling, undulating fairways. Its tiered greens mean approach shot accuracy is a must. Longbow has recently hosted events on both the Symetra Tour, the minor-league feeder to the LPGA Tour, as well as the Cactus Tour, a mini-circuit that features top local and regional players. In April 2020, LPGA veteran Mina Harigae won a Cactus Tour event there, besting Sophia Popov—four months later, Popov (who played in the CoBank Colorado Women’s Open) would go on to win a major championship, the Women’s British Open. longbowgolf.com

AZ Cactus League
Photo Courtesy: ontheroadarizona.com

After being dramatically curtailed because of the novel coronavirus, the hope is that fans will be allowed to return to Arizona’s Cactus League in 2021. The Mesa area features a pair of teams that always seem to be in postseason contention—the Chicago Cubs and Oakland A’s. Check for updates at cactusleague.com.

Tubac’s Got Your Back

FOR LOVE OF THE GAME: The head pro at Tubac, Kristie Fowler, is a native of Grand Junction, CO. Named the 2017 LPGA National Professional of the Year, she was raised on a course built by her father.

Tubac Resort

Originally designed in 1959, the Tubac Golf Resort & Spa is a classic that has only improved with time. In 2006, the original Robert “Red” Lawrence 18-hole design was augmented by another nine, courtesy of Ken Kavanaugh. The Anza, Otero and Rancho each present their own beguiling challenges, featuring stately old growth cottonwoods and mesquites throughout. Of course, there’s more to Tubac than golf—the Arizona Spa incorporates Desert earth elements in many of its treatments, while Healing touch and botanical oils comfort and soothe. An Aveda facility, their salon features “the art and science of pure flower and plant essences.”

The resort also is home to three dining options—Stables Ranch Grille & Patio, Stables Bar and La Cantina. Those planning on visiting both the Spa and dining facilities should check with the resort for the latest local health guidelines. tubacgolfresort.com

Tin Cup

The fourth hole on the Rancho nine is part of the original back nine at Tubac. It is also affectionately known as the “Tin Cup” hole. A 568-yard par-5, it’s featured in the Kevin Costner film, the site of a heated argument between Costner’s Roy McAvoy and Don Johnson’s PGA TOUR star David Simms.

Swimming Pool of Tubac

The water (and everything else) is fine following a recent updating of the swimming pool at Tubac. Featuring 8 x 8″ cabanas, a new bar with seating for special events and a new lap pool with two lanes, when it comes to going for it, you’ll happily make a splash. tubacgolfresort.com

El Charro

The original El Charro, founded in 1922, is the oldest Mexican restaurant in Tucson; the original owner, Monica Flin, is said to have invented the chimichanga. elcharrocafe.com


This article was also featured in the Spring Issue of Colorado AvidGolfer.

Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.

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