David Weiss brought some of his golf-starved Michigan buds to Scottsdale for an ultimate week of golf, resorts and dining.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Not that womenfolk ain't welcome, but Scottsdale is the Ultimate Dude Ranch for hirsute morons like myself -- perfectly contented to golf, bask in the persistent sunlight and live the life of a heat-seeking human missile in search of the spiciest salsa in greater Phoenix. Call me simple minded, and I will blush with pride.
Or call me dimple minded if that doesn't work! With more than 200 courses and 330 days of annual fair weather, you can theoretically tee it up twice a day if you're willing and able, especially now that the dog days of summer are baying at the remnants of springtime. It's the time of year when the air temperature rises and the green fees drop. My kind of town.
So here's the recipe for Testosterone-Fueled-Madness: Invite three guys you don't find thoroughly annoying, book yourself into one of the swankier resorts (where summer rack rates also drop like it's hot -- thank you, Snoop Dogg) and plan an early-morning round followed by lunch and lounging at the pool, then back to the golf course for a lager-marinated nightcap 18.
I recently rehearsed for such a summer fling by meeting a couple of golf-starved Michigan boys -- brother and bro-in-law respectively -- at Sky Harbor Airport, where we filled the back of a rented SUV with our non-lethal Weapons of Grass Destruction and headed directly to the Four Seasons at Troon North to chill in luxury's lap before taking on the nearly adjacent 36 holes.
Truth be told, the Four Seasons' proximity to the two great tracks at Troon North -- Pinnacle and Monument -- means you could just bunk in here, golf down the road a piece and be happy as gila monsters for half a week. The breakfast buffet at Proof will make you forget all of the congealed scrambled egg pile-ups and razor-thin bacon you've had at other such eateries, the only risk being that you'll want to go back to bed after such a kingly repast.
Forget that -- flagsticks are beckoning in the calm of the desert morning, long before bedeviling breezes start up later in the day. Both sides of Tom Weiskopf's recently renovated Troon North handiwork are immaculately groomed, full of sterling looks and towering, Titleist-studded saguaro cactuses.
Best way not to drive a ball into a defenseless succulent? Aim right at the multi-armed monsters.
Golf management company Troon Golf has another not-to-be-missed design on its local roster: Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, a Schmidt/Curley and Fred Couples venture that could be the best golf value in the area. Ak-Chin Southern Dunes boasts private-course conditions and service, wedded to holes that remain in the mind's eye for days afterwards, and that's just the start -- there's even a Harrah's hotel-casino down the road if you haven't had your fill of hazards (109 bunkers!) at round's end. Native grasses abound, and exacting approach shots keep you honest -- Ak-Chin Southern Dunes is truly as playable as it is beautiful.
We then moved closer to downtown Scottsdale for a few nights, bunking in at the Phoenician Resort, one of the area's most venerable luxury addresses. Treat yourself to the hotel's higher-end offering -- the Canyon Suites at the Phoenician -- where quietude and spacious, hypoallergenic rooms (only 60) combine to make this a bona fide, five-star destination. The 27 holes of resort golf at the Phoenician on property may be shorter than most, but the location at the foot of the Camelback Mountains ensures a transcendent outdoor experience.
Being so close to town, we trundled into downtown Scottsdale to devour upscale Mexican fare at The Mission, where an exotic flair and quality ingredients make for a unique take on street food classics such as cochinita pibil -- done with pork belly -- and short rib barbacoa tacos. Add table-side guacamole and a hip and way-too-happy clientele, and you've got the makings of a festive evening.
We squeezed in two rounds the next day. The first came at a remarkable, Ken Kavanaugh design, Tegavah Golf Club (which recently changed its name from "Vista Verde"), a pristine and handsome desert design that feels worlds away from cosmopolitan Scottsdale. Bordered by some two million acres of national forest, it is not just a place to enjoy a great day of golf but to breathe deep and let your eye wander over the surrounding landscape. All that majesty and three great finishing holes, and you'll want to come back again and again.
Other trip highlights, cultural and culinary: The Sunday Brunch at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa (hard to say whether the views exceed the food -- both are transcendent), where the Lobster Cobb and a mimosa will cure what ails you; the "Tequila Goddess" at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess's La Hacienda will steer you toward one of 200 mind-bending varieties on hand; and the incomparable cheeseburger at Hotel Valley Ho's Zuzu eatery, accompanied by twice-cooked fries and sriracha aioli (should be served with a side of statin pills and a Life Alert necklace).
For those of you fitness maniacs who like burning calories after such gentle debauchery, Scottsdale is definitely a hiker's paradise, while more adventurous types can contact the likes of Arizona Outback Adventures and spend a day biking, kayaking or rafting in the wilds. I personally prefer seeing flag sticks on my nature outings, but that's just me, a man of simple-minded pleasures and genetically hard-wired indolence. See you at the 19th hole -- and the 20th, too.