For Cactus League baseball fans, 68 Cubs and Sox games in a 35-day period add up to a boatload of beer and brats. So unless you're gunning for the preseason consumption record, consider benching yourself long enough to check out some of the finest golf in the country at this time of year.
Here's a rundown of quality courses and spring training deals in the Phoenix area:
The Raven Golf Club in south Phoenix, formerly the Raven at South Mountain, is an Arizona rarity: 6,000 shade-giving Georgia pines line its fairways. There's a new clubhouse, new management and a new attitude. 602-243-3636, ravenphx.com
ASU-Karsten Golf Club, a Pete Dye course in Tempe, is close to the airport and perfect for your first or last round. 480-921-8070, asukarsten.com.
Both ASU-Karsten and the Raven knock off 25 percent if you present a spring training ticket stub. That gets the rate down to about $100. Operator OB Sports also offers stay-play packages at its other Arizona golf properties, including We-Ko-Pa, Eagle Mountain and Palm Valley golf clubs. Some packages include spring training baseball tickets. 866-561-4653, obsportsgolfvacations.com
TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course, home of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, a PGA Tour-managed facility, is slashing greens fees to $199 from $299 through April 1. The TPC's newer Champions Course costs $99. Call 888-400-4001 and mention the promotion code "baseball," or visit tpc.com. The luxury Fairmont Scottsdale Princess offers stay-play packages that include unlimited daily play on the TPC courses. 866-540-4495, scottsdaleprincess.com.
Troon North Golf Club, granddaddy of Scottsdale high-end golf, gets into the spring training spirit with a Double Play special: $399 for two rounds Monday-Wednesday, or $449 Thursday-Sunday, through April 1, provided the second is played within five days of the first. 480-585-7700, troonnorthgolf.com.
Other worthy offerings:
Worth the trip: Drive 37 miles east on U.S. Highway 60 for sweeping tee-box views at Gold Canyon's Golf Resort's Dinosaur Mountain Course. gcgr.com
Worth taking your clubs to the Cubs game for: Longbow Golf Club in Mesa is 10 minutes from HoHoKam Park. longbowgolf.com
Worth checking out: The new management group at the McDowell Mountain Golf Club in Scottsdale (formerly Sanctuary Golf Club) is headed by Phil Mickelson. Once-tight fairways have been mercifully widened for mere mortals. mcdowellmountaingc.com
Worth buying: The Southwest Section PGA 2012 Golf Pass costs $125 and gets you 40 to 50 percent off rack rates at 60-plus courses, with no time-of-day restrictions. teetimestore.com
Worth cramming for: Sun Ridge Canyon, Fountain Hills, offers a three-day Jim McLean Golf School for $1,872. sunridgegolf.com
Worth calling ahead for: Xona Resort Suites, handy to North Scottsdale courses, has full kitchens, a pre-arrival grocery-shopping service and an on-site golf concierge. Suites start at $169; golf packages start at $234. xonascottsdale.com
Worth parking for: The Gainey Suites Hotel is close to shopping in Old Scottsdale. Dine on thin-crust pizza and steaks at the Village Tavern and buttery pastries at Paradise Cafe, both across the hotel's parking lot. gaineysuiteshotel.com
Dan Vukelich edits NewMexicoGolfNews.com.
Sox, Cubs and some of the best golf in the country
(HANDOUT / March 2, 2012)
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