The Arizona Cactus League, the spring training home for 15 Major League Baseball teams every February and March, differs from the Florida Grapefruit League in two key ways.
While Florida's teams are spread throughout central and south Florida, every Cactus League team calls greater Phoenix home. And while almost every Grapefruit League team has their own stadium -- the Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals share Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter for the lone exception -- 10 Cactus League teams share a home field with another organization. The Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland Athletics (both in Phoenix), San Francisco Giants (Scottsdale), Los Angeles Angels (Tempe) and Chicago Cubs (Mesa) use their own parks.
The proximity of the Cactus League parks (roughly a 60-mile radius) and the Valley of the Sun's legendary status as a golf destination team up to create an ideal spring break golf getaway. Fans can follow their favorite team from park to park to sample the nuances of each, and along the journey pick off golf courses they've always wanted to play. Here's a look where to play near each stadium:
Arizona Diamondbacks/Colorado Rockies
Park: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Scottsdale
Best nearby courses: This one's a no-brainer. Both the stadium and the Talking Stick Resort, a fine 36-hole facility right across the Pima Freeway, sit on the Salt-River Pima Maricopa Indian Reservation. The maintenance staff there keeps the linksy North Course and tree-lined South Course in good shape. Since this is Scottsdale, there are endless opportunities to branch out from there. In order of proximity, the Gainey Ranch Golf Club, Silverado Golf Club, McCormick Ranch Golf Club, the 36-hole Camelback Golf Club (including the new Ambiente Course), Westin Kierland Resort & Spa (a 27-hole Troon Golf facility), the 36-hole TPC Scottsdale and the McDowell Mountain Golf Club all reside within nine miles. Overwhelming, right? The Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale hosts the PGA Tour, while its Champions Course is more wallet friendly.
San Francisco Giants
Park: Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale
Best nearby courses: All the choices listed above are certainly in play, but the closest option is The Phoenician, a 27-hole complex three miles away. For a true splurge, chase down two of the best 36-hole clubs in the world, the Troon North Golf Club in north Scottsdale 22 miles away, and We-Ko-Pa Golf Club 20 miles away in Fort McDowell. The critics tend to favor the Monument Course over the Pinnacle Course at Troon North and the Saguaro Course over the Cholla Course at We-Ko-Pa, but they're all equally excellent in terms of views, strategic layouts and conditioning.
Chicago White Sox/Los Angeles Dodgers
Park: Camelback Ranch, Glendale
Best nearby courses: Cross the Agua Fria River to stay and play at the 54-hole Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park less than five miles from the stadium. The Gold Course, is the best of the two Robert Trent Jones Sr. designs on the property, and it was renovated in 2015 by Tom Lehman, making it that much better. It's more than 1,000 yards longer than its sister Patriot Course. This resort's parkland golf -- a mix of lakes, streams, canals and trees -- provides a stark contrast to the desert courses in the Valley.
Cincinnati Reds/Cleveland Indians
Park: Goodyear Ballpark, Goodyear
Best nearby courses: The Wigwam is close to Goodyear Park as well, but right across the Gila River, three miles away, is the Tres Rios Golf Course at Estrella Mountain Park, an older course that was renovated in 1998. The Golf Club of Estrella, a Jack Nicklaus Jr. design, sits in the foothills of the Sierra Estrella Mountains eight miles away. The Raven Golf Club at Verrado is 12 miles away in Buckeye, nestled into the foothills of the White Tank Mountains. Both of the latter two courses ranked 15th and 16th, respectively, among the top public golf courses in Arizona by Golfweek in 2013.
Kansas City Royals/Texas Rangers
Park: Surprise Stadium, Surprise
Best nearby courses: Although the 6,200-yard Arizona Traditions Golf Club, the Great Eagle Golf Club and 36-hole Granite Falls are within five miles of the stadium, it's wise to take a 28-mile road trip to chase down Quintero Golf Club. Designer Rees Jones rewards the effort with a desert experience as good as any in the state. Water does come into play on two par 3s.
Seattle Mariners/San Diego Padres
Park: Peoria Sports Complex, Peoria
Best nearby courses: Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia is almost equidistant from either Surprise Stadium (16 miles away) or the Peoria Sports Complex (12 miles away). Gary Panks' design has earned Golf Digest's highest five-star rating in its "Places to Play" guide. Rolling terrain, native grasses and more than 70 bunkers provide a distinct feel different from other desert tracks.
Park: Cubs Park, Mesa
Best nearby courses: Opened in 2014, 15,000-seat Cubs Park is the home to perhaps the most beloved -- and cursed -- franchise in professional sports. The move brought Cubs fans closer to the Arizona State University's Karsten Course, a par 70 that was recently lengthened. A trio of quality-to-strong options resides within 15 miles to the west: Longbow Golf Club, Las Sendas Golf Club and Superstition Springs Golf Club. Original architect Ken Kavanaugh returned to Longbow a decade ago to revamp and expand the layout for the better. Las Sendas has undergone $3 million in improvements since the McBean brothers, a former NHL hockey player and a golf pro, purchased the club with a group of investors in 2008.
Los Angeles Angels
Park: Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe
Best nearby courses: Just seven miles away, ASU's Karsten Course could fit well with Angels fans, too. Less than 11 miles south in Chandler, the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa features two Panks courses run by Troon Golf, the Cattail Course and the Devil's Claw Course. The Cattail Course used to host the Nationwide Tour (now the Web.com Tour).
Milwaukee Brewers/Oakland Athletics
Parks: Maryvale Baseball Park and Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Phoenix
Best nearby courses: Phoenix Municipal boasts the best two options, both within eight miles. Billy Fuller restored William Bell's Papago Golf Course, creating new bunkers and tees during a $5.8 million restoration in 2008. The LPGA Tour played the 2009 Phoenix LPGA International at the city-owned municipal course before the economy cratered the event. The Raven Golf Club-Phoenix lies within eight miles of the home parks for the A's and the Angels, but it has partnered with the Arizona Diamondbacks to be its home club. Grand Canyon University Golf Course, an old-school Bell design home to four ponds, sits just a couple blocks from Maryvale Stadium, although some locals don't consider it the best neighborhood for golf.