The List: What's new for golfers in Phoenix-Scottsdale?

Bunker and resort renovations highlight the recent upgrades in Arizona's Sonoran desert.
The renovated pool is one of many improvements on tap at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A number of golf courses and resorts in the Valley of the Sun spent the summer getting ready for another blockbuster peak season.

Change is always constant regarding the golf scene in Phoenix-Scottsdale. The region is ranked No. 1 among our best U.S. winter destinations for a reason. Stiff competition forces every course and resort to be on top of its game or get left behind.

The latest version of The List looks at what's new for golfers lucky enough to visit the Sonoran Desert this winter:

  1. Upgrades at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
    Like all the rooms at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, the Presidential Suite was redecorated during an on-going renovation.

    A property-wide renovation has been ongoing at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess since 2017.

    In the past six months, the hotel has remodeled its 458 standard guest rooms and 20 luxury suites. New furnishings and modernized bathrooms of polished stone and over-sized walk-in showers make every room more comfortable. Technology upgrades include the geeked-out TVs and an Echo Dot with an "Ask the Princess" function. The main pool deck has been expanded with more cabanas and an eatery/bar.

    The Fairmont, adjacent to TPC Scottsdale, even offers an ice rink during the holidays for those who want a taste of winter without the real thing.

    Phoenix-Scottsdale golf packages

    FROM $157 (USD)
    PHOENIX/SCOTTSDALE | Enjoy 3 nights' accommodations at Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort and 3 rounds of golf at Lookout Mountain Golf Club, Whirlwind Golf Club (Devil’s Claw or Cattail Course) & Golf Club of Estrella.
    Golf Packages
    FROM $207 (USD)
    Golf Packages
    FROM $177 (USD)
    Golf Packages
    FROM $157 (USD)
    Golf Packages
    FROM $247 (USD)

  2. We-Ko-Pa's new casino

    The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation broke ground on a new 166,000-square-foot casino at We-Ko-Pa in June with hopes that it will open sometime next spring. The existing casino building will remain, but will be re-purposed in some unknown capacity.

    We-Ko-Pa is already one of the desert's most desirable getaway for golfers with Cholla by Scott Miller and Saguaro by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

    FROM $167 (USD)
    PHOENIX/SCOTTSDALE | Enjoy 3 nights' accommodations at Wekopa Casino Resort and 3 rounds of golf at Wekopa Golf Club (Cholla & Saguaro Courses) and Sunridge Canyon Golf Club.

  3. Talking Stick bunker renovation
    Both courses at Talking Stick underwent a bunker renovation this summer.

    Talking Stick also executed a bunker renovation at its 36-hole resort facility. Talking Stick staggered its project, so at least one course was open at a time this summer. The Piipaash course closed June 2 and reopened July 1, while the O'odham course closed July 2 and reopened Aug. 23. Both are ready to go following this fall's overseeding.

    With its casino and proximity to Topgolf and the Salt River Fields, the spring training home of the Arizona Diamonbacks and Colorado Rockies, there's always something to do for guests at Talking Stick.

  4. Topgolf Live comes to town

    With three different Topgolf locations, Phoenix-Scottsdale is one of America's hubs of the golf gaming industry. But a whole new twist on the experiences comes to Chase Field in December. The home of the Arizona Diamondbacks will host Topgolf Live (formerly Topgolf Crush), a pop-up version of the game offered by the Dallas-based Topgolf Entertainment Group. From Dec. 12-15, the stadium will transform into a tricked-out driving range with 23 private bays overlooking the field. Space is limited, so sign up in advance.

  5. Westin Kierland bunker renovation
    Kierland Golf Club features 27 holes of good resort golf.

    The Westin Kierland Golf Club has emerged from a bunker renovation. Kierland's 27-hole project that covered more than 50,000 square feet of bunkers (that's a lot of sand) took just 2.5 months from mid-June through the end of August, executed by Casa Verde Golf, a subsidiary of OB Sports Golf Management, which is owned by Troon Golf. The project also built a teaching tee at the range for lessons. Phase two next summer will eliminate more bunkers, according to Director of Golf Nancy Dickens, and reposition others.

    The resort itself is scheduled to wrap up renovations of its 732 guest rooms, including 55 suites, and corridors in December. The modern decor will feature a new color palette inspired by the Southwest to evoke a sense of living in the desert.

    Westin Kierland's course is known for offering every unique mode of transportation available on the market today. I rode the Ellwee, a golf ATV manufactured in Sweden, for nine holes, and a GolfBoard for the other nine. The Ellwee rides low to the ground, so there's no worry about flipping it. It was easy to use right away. The GolfBoard requires more finesse, balance and coordination riding but is still fun if you're looking for alternative golf.

    Up Next

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    The Ellwee

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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The List: What's new for golfers in Phoenix-Scottsdale?