I’ve never been to Arizona. Known for warm winter weather and a golf paradise, I made it a point to visit. To make any trip happen, you gather a core group and make reservations. CK4, Evan, Bud, and myself picked a weekend in January and booked this Airbnb. It cost about $850 per night for 4 people. Technically we brought 6 but a married party is still 1.
Day 1 – Sunridge Canyon Golf Club
CK4 and Nikkii got there a day early to travel to Sedona which sounded like a fun trip. The rest of us took a 6:30am flight on Thursday morning. Our flight arrived on time, we rented a car, and traveled directly to Sunridge Canyon Golf Club. We ate at the Wicked 6 restaurant and then warmed up putting and hit a few balls. Based on the practice green, I had a feeling I wasn’t use to this Bermuda grass. The cost of the course was around $175 and we played the white/yellow combo at 6100 yards and a 68.9/127.
We got paired up with a guy in his 50’s named Steve. Steve had a minor role in Boardwalk Empire which was pretty cool. Anyway, back to the golf. The first hole was a short par 4 and Bud and I hit irons off the tee. Evan took this opportunity to hit his driver and cranked one left. Then he hit a breakfast ball about 10 feet from the green. Foreshadowing maybe? Bud and I both had birdie putts on 2 and I put a 9 on the card on 4 chipping back and forth on the green 5 times. The turn brought “the best brat in the USA” which I couldn’t validate. I won’t bore you with every hole but Bud shot an 84 and Evan and I were high 90’s / 100. The course was beautiful and there were tremendous views of the peaks. I had no answer for the greens.
We met the rest of the group at the Vanilla Gorilla which was within walking distance of the house. We drank some beers, had authentic, too cheap, quesadillas, had another beer at the Rooster, and then slammed some Tequila shots at the house shooting pool and not playing the busted Foosball table. Being a long day waking up and adding time to the day, everyone was tired and we wanted to have a nice Friday so it was a relatively early night.
Day 2 – TPC Scottsdale – Championship Course
The Waste Management Open plays at TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course which was an extra $200 dollars on top of the $250 we were already paying. In hindsight, spending the extra money would have been worth it for the experience and the story. Lesson learned. I only write that knowing what we experienced on the next course. The Championship course we played was 6653 yards from the blues and 71.3/133. This is the Stadium shot we missed out on.
We arrived plenty early for a 9:30 tee time and the course was only 10 minutes from the house. The facility was well run and all the practice areas were great. We tee off on 1 and Evan hits his first ball in the desert. He re-hits and blasts a missile towards the green of this 330 yard par 4. We drive up and what’s that speck on the green? Evan drove the green! I use the exclamation mark because we have a running $500 dollar bet for anyone who drives a par 4. Controversy arises because it’s a breakfast ball. We don’t decide at that moment and continue play. CK4 took a 170 yard par 3 and turned it into a messy 10 with some tree issues. He also drove me into the desert waste area where the cart literally stops and make you go in reverse at 1mph. I was pushing the damn beast back in the play while he’s chasing his wayward ball. The back 9 was my finest stretch of holes on the trip carding 2 birdies, reaching a par 5 in two, missing another 5 foot birdie putt, 3 putting a greenie, and shooting a 38 on the back. This was good enough to put me in a tie with Bud at 84. The bar area of this course looked sweet for what that’s worth.
After gold, we head to Old Town Scottsdale and grab lunch at Kelly’s and have some drinks at a Tiki bar next door. At this point we’re texting Bud’s dad for a ruling on the driven par 4 and he says “no payment”. I agreed. Ck4 was certain Seth Curry was going to make more than 2.5 3’s and I had a few bets on the Sixers, Suns, and Mavs which all covered. We bar hopped for a bit in a truly nice area of the country. The people are all welcoming and there is plenty of activity around. I fit in perfectly at the bar that had a mandatory Fox News station airing at all times. Also, no one wears masks anywhere which makes you feel normal again. We finished up at the Rooster and Ck4 had one of the best lines of the night when he was ordering Pizza Hut and the staff said, “there are 70 pizzas in front of you” and he said, “yeah, that’s fine.” Not the response she was hoping for.
Day 3- Troon North
This was a day where I wish I was like Bud and didn’t consume any alcohol. Troon was undoubtedly the nicest course I have ever played and I wished I was feeling 100%. I wasn’t feeling bad, but to be any % other than 100 is being unfair to the course. Priced around $280 for the round, this is the reason golf exists. Every hole had its own name and personality and the views were unbelievable. It was a 6220 yard course from the silver (the correct tee box for us) and 69.4/129. The wind made it unbelievably challenging for club selection purposes.
There was one special moment on the front 9 where Ck4 hit his ball in the bunker, and after delivering some bunker tips the night before, he put on a show. The lip wasn’t all that high and Chad kept catching the lip. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. around this time I looked at Evan and we both knew that we shouldn’t laugh. After the 6th time hitting the lip! Chad burst out laughing and I finally got to laugh at his misfortune because at least he thought it was funny too. I can’t even recap the round because you have to be there to get a feel for it. Bud played amazing to shoot an 88 and I was once again nearly getting beat by Evan with an even 100. I swear I took 10 out of bounds shots and I wasn’t even hitting bad shots, there is no punching out on a course like this. Stray from the fairway, there is no rough, you’re out. I’m not sure if we brought the wind or not, but I can’t imagine it was usually like that considering we hardly felt any the previous 2 rounds.
We get back and crush the second Pizza Hut pie and head to The Hot Chick to watch the playoff game. The scene is poppin’ Jeff Crisp style. Once again, hard to describe coming from PA that it feels like a 70° sunny afternoon in January. The bar even had basketball courts which was a first for me. Unfortunately the Bengals over didn’t hit and the wind was knocked out of our sails a bit. We proceeded to head back in the house direction and finish up the trip where we started at the Vanilla Gorilla and concluded watching some Supermarket Sweep where Sybil was clueless. The flight out the next morning was 8am so it was another early morning. It was a tad depressing leaving knowing that it’s over.
My first piece of advice is this isn’t a trip to skimp on. It’s why you save money. You won’t remember what it cost to go on a trip like this but you’ll remember the awesome time you have. I also thought the Airbnb was a good idea. The group was able to stay together and it gave some flexibility. We didn’t use the pool at all which should be an indicator of what you do when you go on a trip like this. Which brings me to the 3 night length stay. It’s too short. It went by in a blur and even though I enjoyed the trip, I know there was plenty more to see. I would have liked to see Sedona, do some gambling, and probably parts of Phoenix. All in all, I can cross this one off my bucket list and would go back in a heartbeat during these winter months to see some of the other courses like the Stadium course, Gray Hawk, We-Ko-Pa and Quintero. Also, a thanks to the people who came along to make it that much better!