The crown jewel of winter golf is Scottsdale, Arizona with over 250 courses. A royal vacation begins at the luxurious Fairmont Scottsdale Princess overlooking the TPC Scottsdale Stadium royal scottsdaleCourse, known for the largest and wildest tournament on the PGA circuit – the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Nothing compares to this week long party of golf enthusiasts who entertain themselves as much as the players. Golf packages at The Princess include playing in the steps of pros at the famed rowdy 16th par three as well as on the Champions Course with equally challenging play and views at muni prices. Add another pro tour stop at Grayhawk Golf Club where the Raptor and Talon courses are a true test routing through arroyos, box canyons and rugged washes of North Scottsdale. The Raptor, designed by Tom Fazio, is a 7,135-yard risk/reward game of intriguing golf.  David Graham and Gary Panks designed the Talon course with the illusion of tight fairways begging premium tee shots. Although length is positive, pin seeking is critical to avoid the terror of putting tier to tier. Towering Saguaros, Mesquite and Palo Verde trees contrast the breathtaking views of Scottsdale and the skyline of Phoenix making this one of the best daily fee venues of Arizona.

After golf relax back at the Princess.  Sip a signature cocktail, slip into one of the five pools or soak in a Jacuzzi. Hold your own court from the balcony over the golfers teeing off on number five with room service for privacy or stay active on the tennis courts where memorable matches were played by the likes of Andre Agassi, now a restaurant partner with Chef Michael Mina who has made the resident Bourbon Steak House famous for rich and flavorful combinations. Trust the sommelier here for matching to the bloodlines of steak or crusted snapper. Consider a cocktail class with mixologist, Chad, to learn new concoctions like Friar’s Tuck with MacAllen 12 that makes you wonder, “Am I in Scotland?” Of course not but a few miles away, you can play golf in a kilt and be heralded in on the 18th hole by a bagpiper at Kierland Golf Club. His silhouette looms in the foreground of the bold sunset, a fire pit blazing beside him.  The three nines- Acacia, Ironwood, and Mesquite can even be played with Segway golf carts. This is only for the well-balanced players and a lesson is required to prevent the machines from ankle biting or fairway wrestling which will happen anyway if you don’t focus. Really, it’s a blast.

royal scottsdaleThe leisure concierge at the Princess can set this up for you with your own transportation and guide you to all things Scottsdale, be it a cowboy or native American event, sports, theater, hot air ballooning, and especially more golf. Winter play is in sunny session thanks to the perfected art of over seeding. If you brought kids, they can have fun with Cecil the tortoise and Bobcat Billy’s Club while you head to Troon North’s Monument and Pinnacle courses, providing premium golf and real estate for live bobcats, quails and celebrities. Always voted as two of the top five courses, the dramatic rock formations, elevation changes, desert flora and fauna are highlighted in a frolicking roller coaster ride. Tom Weiskopf created an ultimate test of golf in the shadows of Pinnacle Peak Mountain with exceptional service.

Another course that deserves more attention than it ever gets is Sunridge Canyon. Javelina families dining on prickly pear cactus, one of the most target courses with visually stimulating scenery and a superb 19th hole defines the American Southwest.

royal scottsdaleUnwind again at the Princess.  The Willow Stream spa is indubitably one of the best in the world for ambience and unique amenities, like the Havasupai waterfalls pounding three levels of heated force where it hurts the most, an inhalation room for relaxing and adult only rooftop pool facing the McDowell Mountains.

The Scottsdale Princess is for lovebirds – literally, the peach faced, green and blue- feathered flocks flit between the palms. The Princess is for anyone looking for luxury. When the sun sets, the fire pits ignite as flames dance over the water by the Stone Rose Lounge, a place to see and be seen.

No wonder Golf Channel’s showman Brandel Chamblee is Scottsdale’s spokesman. There is always a show, be it art, cars, planes, home and garden, entertainment at casinos or culture centers, sports and of course, the “Greatest Show on Grass” – the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

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