Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top 10: Late Night Dining in Scottsdale, AZ

Not too long ago, if you wanted a late night bite in this town, your only option was Denny's or Village Inn. Good news is the Valley event scene is no longer snoozing.

Here's some suggestions for you:

Kazimierz Wine Bar - 7137 E Steston Drive, Scottsdale
Enjoy eclectic eats like Polish sausages, cheese fondue and Egyptian flatbread topped with morels, Brie and truffle oil. Arizona's best wine list makes it easy to linger. Open until 2 AM daily.

Carlsbad Tavern - 3313 N Hayden Road, Scottsdale
The New Mexican chile heat keeps you energized for hours. The late night menu includes favorites like gr4een chile cheese crisp, NM pot stickers filled with chicken and chiles, green chile stew, carne adovada and yummy clue-corn enchiladas. Until 2 AM daily.

Four Peaks Brewing Company - 1340 E 8th St, Tempe and 15745 N Hayden, Scottsdale
The signature Kilt Lifter brew is worth a visit anytime and the tasty fare holds it's own. Look for munchies like spanakopita and chicken chile cheese rolls, sandwiches on homemade beer bread, like Italian beef and portabello mushrooms with veggies. Good pizza's too, Open until 2 AM daily.

Hanny's - 40 N First St
This is a great place to hang out after a game or show in downtown Phoenix. Sip a classic cocktail and enjoy pizzas, salads, sandwiches and fresh-fried fritters served with chocolate dipping sauce, YUM. Until 1:30 AM daily.

Joe's New York Pizza - 7321 E Shoeman Lane, Scottsdale
It's Big Apple style pizza by the slice. The crust is properly thin, but slightly chewy. The cheese and sauce are high quality. Open until 4 AM daily.

Delux - 3146 E Camelback Road (Biltmore Plaza), Phoenix
Nothing better than a burger to stave off late night hunger pangs.
The "Classic" is aptly named, flavorful Harris Ranch beef with all the trimmings on a brioche bun. Great fries too! Until 2 AM daily.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Texas' Best Kept Golf Secret: Barton Creek

Barton Creek, by location and per capita income, has been ranked the “wealthiest location in Texas”. Surprising as it may sound since Barton Creek could so easily be passed up next to Texas' biggies like Dallas and San Antonio, this tiny portion of Travis County in The Lone Star State holds some very stunning views, interesting terrain, and a weather that is ideal for golfing. And, not surprisingly, it made use of its golf-perfect features as it holds some of Texas' and the country's best golf vacation destinations.

The fabulous Barton Creek Resort and Spa owns a collection of four awesome golf courses, two of which hold the top 2 ranks in the best golf courses in the state: The Fazio Foothills, the Fazio Canyons, the Crenshaw Cliffside, and the Palmer Lakeside.

The Fazio Foothills
The Fazio Foothills Golf Course is the “carrier” course and prized jewel of the Barton Creek Resort and Spa. It is also their pride and joy, holder of the No. 1 Golf Club in Texas title. Not surprising, the famous Tom Fazio created the layout of this dramatically scenic and extremely challenging golf course. The fairways are lined with cliffs with views of limestone caves and waterfalls. The greens are an impeccably-manicured Tiff Eagle Bermuda greens.

The Fazio Canyons
Some miles from the Barton Creek Resort and Spa stands another Tom Fazio classic and award winning design, the 18-hole par-72 Fazio Canyons. It stretches to a whooping 7,513 yards surrounded by magnificent red oaks and sycamores that make the course even more scenic than it already is. It is the perfect complement to the beautiful limestone bed creek, Short Springs Branch. Every inch of this huge golf course is undoubtedly beautiful and offers as much fun to golfers; it is so excellent it is ranked No. 2 Golf Course in Texas.

Crenshaw Cliffside
The Crenshaw Cliffside Golf Course is the collaborative effort of Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore. It is characterized by the rolling hills and the unparalleled views of Texas Hill Country. Golfers would agree on one thing: this course has got the ATTITUDE, provided by the natural terrain created by natural plateaus, gentle contours, and native flora abundant in the area.

Palmer Lakeside
An Arnold Palmer creation is always a stunner, and this one is not an exception. Located in a secluded hilltop, it has an overlooking view of the Lake Travis. And as much as it is beautiful, it has all the layout excellence that is characteristic of every single golf course designed by the Arnold Palmer.

These four courses are nothing but testaments to the true wealth of Barton Creek, Texas. They are the place's best kept secrets, the beauty of which can only be truly discovered after taking a golf vacation here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"CP's Top Ten" for Scottsdale - Fall, 2011!

#16 - TPC Scottsdale
CP's Top Ten for Scottsdale has been updated! Check out the new list here.

Planning a trip to Scottsdale this winter? Here is my opinion on the best 10 choices when it comes to golf here in the Valley of the Sun. I chose my Top Ten based on these (what I consider to be the most important) factors:
  • Layout
  • Playability
  • Scenery
  • Service
Remember when reading this that I'm pretty much a hack. I'm about a 14 handicapper, so I'm not what you would call a golf "purist" when it comes to course design, etc. You'll never see me on the practice range hitting 3 irons. (Do I own a three iron?)
I tee it up to have fun, take in the scenery, and hopefully take some of my buddies' pocket change. If you're of the same persuasion, this Top Ten list is for you.
Here we go:
  1. Gold Canyon - Dinosaur Mountain - still my all-time favorite. It's about a 40-minute drive from Old Town Scottsdale, but well worth it. The dramatic elevation changes, fantastic scenery, and interesting layout make this the best spot in Arizona.
  2. The Golf Club at Eagle Mountain - Probably the best staff and friendliest environment in all of Scottsdale - I'm also a Scott Miller fan - lots of elevation changes, and bowl-shaped fairways where a hack like me will get a few forgiving bounces now and then.
  3. SunRidge Canyon Golf Club - Somewhat brutal at times, but one of the more interesting hole-by-hole tracks. Also has the best 3 finishing holes in Arizona - three-shot par 5, then a ridiculous par 3 over the canyon shot of 220 that you're supposed to STOP on a dime. Yeah right. #18 is a wicked dog leg left par 4 up the hill to finish out one of the tougher back nines in Arizona. "We made it! I need a cocktail stat!"
  4. We-Ko-Pa Golf Club - Cholla Course - Another Scott Miller gem. You definitely have to think your way around this course, and Cholla (and Saguro) are very unique in that they're built on an Indian reservation, so there are ZERO HOMES anywhere on the golf course. Makes for scenery that's tough to beat. Only drawback is that it is typically cart path only, so be prepared to do some walking. It's worth it.
  5. Grayhawk Golf Club - Talon Course - The Raptor course is where they host the PGA Tour's Frys.com Open, but I have always preferred the tamer sister course, Talon. It's a little more forgiving off the tee, and #17 is an island par 3 - kind of a "Mini 17th at Sawgrass" - great hole for gambling. (It's only a 9 iron, or a big wedge...) Also, Phil's Grill is one of my all time favorite places to enjoy a couple dozen cocktails after Grayhawk whips me into submission.
  6. TPC Stadium Course - Home to the PGA Tour's FBR Open. Yeah sure, I agree that by itself the golf course is a little overrated, but what can I say - it's fun to play where the pros play, and after watching the tournament on TV, you'll want to get it in. The last 4 holes are the reason you pay what you do, ($250+ in peak season) and they are as fun to play as they are to watch. Service in all aspects is exceptional, and the restaurant is one of the best in Arizona to have a nice breakfast.
  7. Troon North - Pinnacle Course - The atmosphere in the clubhouse is a little stuffy, but I play this one at least once a year for one reason - the greens are the best in Arizona. Both Troon courses (Pinnacle and Monument) are extremely difficult for me, but the putting surfaces are simply perfect in the winter - fast and brutal. Lots of fun, and a few 3 or 4 puts along the way...
  8. Rancho Manana Golf Club - This one is more my speed. I can play Rancho from the tips, and rarely have anything more than a 7 iron in on the par 4s. But don't be fooled by the relatively short length. This one is tricky. Rancho is just north of Scottsdale, in Cave Creek, where it's very mountainous, and I'm simply an elevation change junkie. One of the more scenic courses, and the Tonto grill would be in my all time Top 5 restaurants. Great staff - very laid back.
  9. Ocotillo Golf Club - Ocotillo cracked into my Top Ten this year, replacing The Raven at South Mountain. Although I still love the Raven, for something a little different, and a more traditional feel, Ocotillo is my new favorite. With 3 distinct 9's, great conditions, and maybe the best spot in Arizona to have lunch after your round, you can't go wrong. Another advantage (or disadvantage) is that there is a lot of water which sets in apart from most of the dry, desert layouts here. The staff is laid back and friendly, and make time for lunch afterwards. Sit outside on the patio, listen to the waterfalls, and enjoy.
  10. The Arizona Grand Golf Club - Formerly known as "Phantom Horse," Arizona Grand gives you a little of everything. Some traditional holes, and some great target golf as well. It's been under renovation all summer and promises to be one of the valley's newest "up and comers." Have dinner and drinks at Rustler's Rooste just up the hill after your round. The finishing hole is a par 3 which you don't see often, and what a par 3 it is. 180 yards from the middle tees, but only requires an 8 iron for me because of the dramatic elevation drop. This is also good for day in / day out golf, as it's a quick 10 minutes from the airport.
O.K. gang - there it is - "CP's Top Ten" - If you're planning a trip to Arizona this year, you can't go wrong with any of these great venues.
Feel free to call me at 888-867-6911 for more details... hit em straight!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Golf Zoo Now Offers TripCaddie!

Golf Zoo just made planning your next golf vacation even easier.

We have partnered with TripCaddie.com, an exciting service that offers your group a private website to help plan, socialize and remember your golf trip. Each private website allows your group to store all of the important trip information in one place so the group can easily access it when they need it without sending a bunch of confusing emails back and forth. TripCaddie has simple features to help your group interact with each other before, during and long after your golf trip. Here is what you can do on your private website:

  • Print and Review your Itinerary
  • Post comments on the Wall (Great for trash talking)
  • Gain consensus using Polls
  • Manage Pairings and Track Scores for every round
  • Upload Photos and Videos
  • Track and Reconcile Group Trip Expenses
  • Nominate and Award Virtual Trophies
  • Access Game Formats and Jokes
  • Purchase Great Golf Trip Products and Services
  • and much more...
Ask your local rep for more details about using TripCaddie for your next golf vacation!