What's new in Phoenix/Scottsdale for golfers in winter 2023

Course and resort renovations, technology advancements and more are waiting in Arizona's Sonoran desert in the Valley of the Sun.
The horses of Rancho de los Caballeros run past the 16th green of the course in Wickenburg, Ariz.

PHOENIX, Ariz. - I would bet my life savings you'll have better luck than I did during your next winter golf vacation in the Valley of the Sun.

I watched my favorite team choke in the Fiesta Bowl (I don't want to talk about it), got rained out of much of my round at Stonecreek Golf Club and virtually snowed out of another round in Sedona. California's "atmospheric river" hit Arizona at just the wrong time.

Don't let my bad luck deter you: Phoenix/Scottsdale is still the best place to be in America from January through March if you're a golfer. There's a reason we rank this golf mecca seventh among the World Top 100 Golf Destinations.

From the Fiesta Bowl to the upcoming valley-wide party hosting the Super Bowl in Glendale and the WM Phoenix Open in Scottsdale during the same February weekend - and capped off by spring training in March - there's always something going on. And, most of the time, the sun never stops shining.

Whether you're a regular visitor or coming for the first time, we've rounded up what's new for 2023. These changes may guide where you want to stay or play on your next trip.

March 21, 2019
A dream golf destination in America's southwest, there are many ways to experience spectacular golf here. The Phoenix-Scottsdale mecca boasts 200-plus courses and an array of world-class resorts and spas. Or, experience scenery and seclusion in smaller Tucson. Summer golf can be comfortable too in high-altitude climes like Sedona and Flagstaff. Name your game and Arizona's got a package for you.

New owners at Rancho de los Caballeros

Thankfully, the weather softened for a three-day stay at Rancho de los Caballeros, a dude ranch in Wickenburg that's one of America's unique golf experiences. While my wife and daughter were riding horses, I was playing golf on a serene and secluded golf course that's more like a classic parkland layout than the target-style desert golf courses surrounding it. New owners are investing heavily, expanding the clubhouse and adding new accommodations. With so much to do - skeet shooting, ax throwing, relaxing at the spa, Saturday night BBQ bonfires and all-inclusive dining packages - it's the perfect outdoor family vacation where golfers can sneak away to play and not be missed. A new tee currently growing in has stretched the 17th hole into a par 5, creating a rare par-73 routing that ends on back-to-back par 5s. Golf the cowboy way - Yeehaw!

The desert setting is sublime at Rancho de los Caballeros in Wickenburg, Ariz.

Upgrades at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa

The first phase of an $80-million renovation at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa was completed last September. The work enhanced the 869 guest rooms and 81 suites, the lobby and debuted a new flagship restaurant called Tía Carmen. Phase 2 construction began in October to expand the resort's five pools and lazy river to include three new water slides, cabanas and an adult pool, plus a private VIP spa area.

Golf Course Renovations

Both the North and South courses at The Boulders Resort & Spa are fresh off of renovations to upgrade playing conditions.

Multiple area golf courses underwent renovations last summer to prepare for high season this winter. A four-month renovation completed last fall at The Boulders Resort & Spa Scottsdale has improved playing conditions on its beautiful North and South courses in Carefree. The North saw the renovation of all bunkers, while the greens on the South Course were redone with new TifEagle Bermuda.

A bunker renovation completed on the Red Course at the Wigwam Arizona Resort in Litchfield Park rebuilt all 44 traps using a new Polylast Bunker Liner system. Tan sand was replaced with new, higher-quality white sand as well.

By the end of February, the Arizona Biltmore Golf Club in Phoenix will have added a new golf shop, underground cart parking and member facilities in a new building adjacent to the current clubhouse. The second phase of improvements will soon break ground on a new clubhouse that houses event space and a restaurant to replace the existing building. This summer, a renovation will start on the Adobe Course. The project will install a new, more efficient irrigation system, plant new drought-tolerant TifTuf Bermudagrass throughout the course, renovate green complexes, level tee boxes and rebuild bunkers with the Capillary Concrete lining system for better drainage.

The private Terravita Golf & Country Club in Scottsdale reopened its newly renovated golf course to member play last November following an $8.5-million renovation and enhancement project. Golf course architect Phil Smith led the seven-month project where all 18 greens were re-designed, rebuilt and grassed using TifEagle Bermuda grass; tee boxes repositioned; fairways reshaped; and a new state-of-the-art irrigation system installed. All bunkers were repositioned, reshaped and rebuilt with Capillary Concrete.

Adding a 'Golf House' at Papago

Papago Golf Course is one of the most affordable and popular courses in the Valley of the Sun.

Papago Golf Club’s $4-million renovation wrapped up last October. Construction of a new Arizona Golf House, which will eventually break ground to house the Arizona Golf Association and other local golf organizations, required some changes to the existing layout, moving the 9th and 18th green complexes as well as the 1st and 10th tees. The 9th green was relocated to the edge of an existing pond, creating a risk/reward par 5, while the 18th green was repositioned to create a new angle on approach shots. The current 442-yard, par-4 sixth hole was lengthened after the green complex was moved back 20 yards. In addition, all golf course bunkers were renovated, many tee complexes leveled and new cart paths were built around tees and greens. More than 10 acres of turf was removed throughout the course, further reducing water usage, a key for the future of golf in America's drought-ravaged Southwest (except, evidently, when I visit).

The growth of the Toptracer Range

Bored with your traditional range session? The addition of Toptracer Range technology is trending throughout the valley. Golfers practicing can analyze the data of their shots or play games thanks to Toptracer's ball-tracking technology. It's available at courses such as Bellair Golf Park in Glendale; Longbow Golf Club, Augusta Ranch and Dobson Ranch in Mesa; Troon North in Scottsdale; Greenfield Lakes in Gilbert and others.

5 Min Read
October 29, 2018
The technology provides golfers the opportunity to play games, famous courses and practice.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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What's new in Phoenix/Scottsdale for golfers in winter 2023