Now that the calendar has flipped from August to September and summer is in the home stretch, let’s not forget there’s still the better part of a month to go before the chapter closes on the most glorious golf season of the year. So it’s time once again to ask our favorite question—where should we go to play?
How about Scottsdale, Arizona? We know many of you will scoff that it’s way too hot, but hear us out. It’s sunny, warm (well, okay, hot), gorgeous, full of fun-to-play world-class courses, and best of all, an unbelievable bargain. You can literally save 70 percent compared to peak season rates.
Golf insiders know the perks of visiting Scottsdale, and indeed, much of Arizona, in summer. Out in the Sonoran Desert, golf courses, resorts, and hotels roll out fantastic specials from June until the start of overseeding season in late September. These specials entice golfers during these off-season months when the heat scares off most potential visitors to the Valley of the Sun. Eye-popping green fees, multi-play round discounts, and free rental clubs are just some of the incentives you’ll find if you brave Scottsdale in late summer. Lodging rates also plummet—the summer is the time when locals famously take advantage of huge discounts to enjoy "staycations" at their favorite retreats.
We’ll grant you that summers in Scottsdale are ferociously hot, but September is usually much more moderate than June, July and August. Instead of 115, it may only get up to 105 on the hottest days, and as the monsoon season wanes, the heat once again becomes drier. We’ll take 105 in the desert over 90 and humid in the East almost every time. The temptation may be to conclude that any temperatures so hot—whether it’s 105 or 115—may not seem significantly different, but when we played with a former minor league baseball player from the Scottsdale area, he compared that 10 degree difference to the comfort level of facing a pitcher who threw between 90 and 95 miles per hour versus one whose fastball regularly clocked in at 95 to 100 mph. Another consideration is that in September, the nights also start to cool down some, so it’s more pleasant to hang out outside at night.
Of course, the biggest selling point of the Arizona climate any time of year is the sun. While you always have to cross your fingers for good weather in the East, South and Midwest, in Scottsdale you can almost certainly count of sunshine. Even when it rains, the showers tend to be brief and it’s not long before the sun returns.
There are plenty of other reasons why you should consider a September off-season visit to Scottsdale. With fewer visitors in this vast, sprawling golf realm, there’s less traffic to contend with. In town, you’ll find convenient parking spaces and open tables at choice restaurants. For weekday visits, especially, resorts tend to have plenty of availability, and tee sheets are more open at golf courses that are jam-packed in peak season. Chances are the pace of play will be better, too, when the courses aren’t as crowded.
A September visit to Scottsdale for golf looks even better when you consider the alternative of waiting until summer is over. If you visit in the fall, you’ll arrive following overseeding, which means you’ll almost certainly be playing cart-path golf. Many courses restrict carts to the paths all the way to Thanksgiving.
Have we convinced you yet? Do you need to see concrete examples of deals in order to be won over? Okay, here are a few suggestions at some of our favorite places in Scottsdale.
Troon North Golf Club sits at 2,800-feet above sea level and is typically five to seven degrees cooler than Phoenix. The Monument Course is open this summer, while the greens on the Pinnacle Course are being converted to bentgrass, so that course won’t be open until October. Green fees Monday to Thursday in September can get as low as $39, whereas in peak season the cost of a round maxes out in the high $200s.
The Westin Kierland Golf Club, a 27-hole Troon Golf-managed facility that is the chief amenity of The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, offers a three-day unlimited golf pass for $139 until September 23. Our favorite Kierland routing is the Ironwood/Acacia, but passholders will surely play the Mesquite/Ironwood and Acacia/Mesquite rotations as well. You can even spread play out over four days. An option that includes Ping rental clubs, Nike rental shoes, VIP credentials and other golf shop and dining discounts costs just $209.
At The Boulders, which boasts the boulder-filled, Jay Moorish-designed North and South courses (be advised that one of the nines at the club will be closed each day until after overseeding), the green fee starts at $55. If you book a “BOGO At The Boulders” special for a late summer stay, when you purchase one golf round or spa treatment you can get another one free for each night of your stay.
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, whose Scott Miller-designed Cholla and Bill-Coore-Ben Crenshaw-designed Saguaro layouts percolate in an untrammeled desert setting facing Four Peaks, charges half its peak season rate through October 7. If you have a foursome and plan on playing both courses more than once, consider purchasing a We-Ko-Pass. Pass holders and up to three playing partners pay half or less of whatever the current green fee rate is.
Talking Stick Golf Club, home to two Coore-Crenshaw eighteens—the O'odham Course and the Piipaash Course— with no housing anywhere nearby, features unlimited golf for $70 (Monday-Thursday) to $85 (Friday-Sunday) in September, which is less than half of the $155 to $175 peak season rates. If you just wanted to play one round, beginning at 1:00 p.m. the weekday green fee is $45.
These are just a few of the incredible deals you’ll find in Scottsdale in September. Chances are, if you have other favorite courses, you’ll find impressive savings there, as well. So with all these great courses, great deals, and great sunny weather, you now know why Scottsdale may be the best place to go for a September golf getaway.