The Southwest isn’t exactly known for its golf. It’s more well-known for its rugged landscape, blazing heat, and many national parks, but golfers rejoice—there are plenty of worthy golf courses in the area to fulfill your golfing desires.
Whether you’re heading to the Southwest anyway for a business trip or family meet-up, or you’re planning a golf trip to the area, you can look forward to an interesting, challenging, and fun-filled golf experience with a heaping side of Southwestern culture.
If you’re planning your golf trip to the Southwest, we suggest doing it quite a bit in advance so you can structure it exactly how you want it to be. Here are our top tips on where to play, what to pack, and other things you need to know.
Tip 1: Choosing Your Golf Buddy
Who you’re going with is one of the most important aspects of your trip. Is it just you? Is it a romantic couple’s getaway? Are you going with a few buddies, with colleagues, or with the whole family, kids included?
This influences pretty much every other part of your trip and how to plan for it. In some cases, this’ll be out of your hands, like a company trip. And in some cases, you might be planning something like a couple’s trip with a bit of golf included or an experience teaching your kids how to play the sport.
But if you’re planning a golf-specific trip from the beginning, choose who you’re taking with you upfront. Your spouse? Your kids? Five buddies? Get clear on this, and everything else will be easier to plan.
Tip 2: Set Your Budget
Make sure you know how much you can spend, but also consider the others coming on the trip with you. Your budget and your buddy’s budget might be very different, so make sure you’re on the same page.
Set an agreed-upon budget with your group. Then, set out to plan your trip around that budget. Remember, your budget needs to include:
- Travel costs: Depending on where you are, this could be airfare or gas costs.
- Accommodation: Luxury or practical? Don’t forget to travel to and from golf courses.
- Food and drink: Restaurants or grocery shopping?
- Green fees: Remember to include caddie tips and cart rentals in your budget.
- Extra spending money: For non-golf adventures!
- Emergency costs: Potential doctor’s visits, replacing broken items, etc.
Tip 3: Picking Golf Courses to Play
If you’ve got a bucket list of courses to play, you might already have some on your list. If this is the case, you’re already ahead with your plans because you’ll be able to figure out a better budget, where to stay, and so on based on the courses you’re going to play.
If you don’t have an idea of courses to play yet, but you’ve got a budget, it’s a good idea to pick courses that fit into your budget. Don’t assume that more expensive courses are always better! You can have an amazing round at some of the more affordable golf courses too.
Make sure the courses you pick are open to the public unless you can find a member to take you along for the ride! Here are some great courses to play if you don’t have one in mind yet.
- TPC Scottsdale
- Grayhawk Golf Club
- Desert Mountain Golf Club
- We-Ko-Pa Golf Club
- Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club
- Omni Barton Creek
- Loews Ventana Canyon Resort
- The Inn at Entrada
Tip 4: Book Accommodation
Choose accommodation that makes it easy to reach your chosen golf course. If you’re determined to play a resort golf course, you may be able to find stay-and-play packages that save costs a little and put you right on the course.
If you’re not playing at a resort, your options are many. Hotels tend to be pricey but convenient. Airbnb is an option if you’re happy with a self-catering property. It’s wise to book in advance to avoid disappointment and panic if your chosen place gets booked by someone else.
Tip 5: Travel
Once you know exactly where you’re playing and staying, it’s a good idea to sort out your travel details. Flights, rental cars, and public transport should be factored into this, depending on how much/how far you’ll be traveling between accommodation and courses.
Tip 6: Book Your Tee Times
It’s a great idea to book your tee times ahead of time online. This way, you’re assured of getting your slot instead of being disappointed if the tee time is booked.
If you’re playing multiple courses, booking all your tee times in advance will also help you to plan your vacation more effectively.
When Is the Best Time to Go?
This really depends on your preference, but if you’re planning a trip specifically for golfing, the Southwest is best between November and April. This is late fall, running into winter and heading into spring.
The Southwest can get blisteringly hot in summer, so while it might seem intuitive to plan a golfing trip in the summer season, we strongly advise against it.
Planning your trip for fall, winter, or spring is the safest for your own health! You’re unlikely to be snowed out completely, although you may have to deal with some chilly temperatures. But you won’t be at risk of heatstroke or bad sunburn.
What to Pack for Your Golf Trip
This is fairly subjective, but here are some essentials you need to make sure you have the golfing trip of a lifetime.
- Your golf clubs: Decide in advance if you’re taking your own golf clubs or renting clubs—this will factor into budget and travel arrangements.
- Your handicap certificate: Some clubs require you to have a handicap to play, so it’s a good idea to keep this handy.
- Golfing apparel: Make sure you pack appropriate apparel for the golf course. Proper golf shoes, a hat, and good socks are necessary.
- Clothing for the weather: Layer! Pack light base layers, thin shirts to go over them, and light jackets you can layer over everything. This will make it easy to stay warm, but with the ability to remove layers if it gets a little warm.
- Sunscreen: Even if you’re golfing in winter, the sun can be harsh. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting sunscreen! Sunglasses are also a good idea.
- Medication: Your prescription meds are obvious. We recommend also packing anti-nausea tablets and light painkillers if a headache or stomach cramp strikes while you’re on the course.
How Can You Save Money on a Golf Trip
Save some pennies with these extra tips and tricks. Plan properly, be smart, and you can enjoy an amazing golfing experience in the Southwest!
- Check golf package deals.
- Use Frequent Flyer miles.
- Choose a vacation rental over a hotel.
- Get a group together and split accommodation/food costs.
- Buy groceries rather than eat out.
- Play at cheaper golf courses.
- Go during off-peak season.
About the Author
Jordan Fuller is a retired golfer and businessman. When he’s not on the course working on his own game or mentoring young golfers, he writes in-depth articles for his website, Golf Influence.