GETTING THERE

British Airways (0870 850 9850, www.ba.com) flies daily non-stop to Phoenix from London Heathrow.

WHERE TO PLAY

There are more than 200 golf courses from which to choose in the Greater Phoenix area.

On the first at TPC of Scottsdale?s Stadium Course colourful hot-air balloons hang over the McDowell mountain range. This manicured Tom Weiskopf / Jay Morrish

layout plays close to the five-star Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort.

At We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, a superb Scott Miller layout was opened in 2001 on Yavapai land in Fountain Hills, close to Fort McDowell. The local tribes forbid the building of homes on their land ? so the course has a refreshingly open feel, enabling coyotes and other wildlife to run free across the fairways. A second course is already being built to satisfy demand.

At the 27-hole Westin Kierland Resort course ? another Scott Miller design ? air-conditioned golf carts and Segway (two-wheeled, self-balancing scooter) transport has been introduced.

A $5 million upgrade hasn?t long been completed on the three 18-hole Trent Jones Senior courses at Starwood?s Wigwam resort at Litchfield Park.

Maintained in superb condition, the tight, 27-hole layout at The Phoenician Resort, sitting at the base of the dramatic Camelback Mountain, is regarded as one of the smartest addresses in town.

Moving towards North Scottsdale, the Four Seasons Troon North flagship club has two excellent 18-hole courses which command some of the highest green fees in the area.

Close by is the manicured Legend Trails, designed by Rees Jones, which offers competitive green fees and packages throughout most of the year. Ask for a frequent player?s card to save a small fortune on published prices.

Other popular courses in this locality include Grayhawk, Talking Stick and Camelback.

Dig deep to play The Boulders Resort?s North Course, an extraordinary layout played around gigantic rocks which have been smoothed by the desert winds over millions of years. Check before you go as the North is only open for public play on alternate days.

There are also some very special private clubs in North Scottsdale. Don?t hesitate for a second if you get invited to play any of the six, hilly Jack Nicklaus courses at Desert Mountain, or turn your nose up to play Tom Fazio?s Mirabel or Phil Mickelson?s first design venture at Whisper Rock.

Driving south towards the frontier town of Tucson, is Whirlwind Golf Club which offers 36 holes on the Gila River Reservation. Designed by Gary Panks, the Devil?s Claw course at Whirlwind hosts the PGA Nationwide Tour every October and is linked to the luxurious Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort.

Tucson is the last big town before you reach the Mexican border. Contrasting with the sophistication of Scottsdale, it has a more authentic Wild West flavour. Designed jointly by John Fought and 2006 Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman, there are 36 holes here playing through two rugged canyons which offer spectacular views of the surrounding Sonoran desert.

Tom Fazio has produced two super courses at Loews Ventana Canyon resort ? one of the par-3 greens features a refrigeration plant to keep it in pristine condition.

Jack Nicklaus was responsible for the 27 holes at Westin La Paloma, Greg Nash inspired the 45 holes at the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador, while Craig Stadler and Robert Cupp combined their skills to hone the excellent 18-hole Star Pass course.

With such spectacular terrain to work with, Gary Panks could not fail with one of his early designs at Sedona Golf Resort which has some of the finest golf views to be found anywhere. Father and son of the Trent Jones family worked together to

design Oak Creek Country Club in 1968. Playing across natural ponds and featuring fairways lined with pines, firs and cottonwood trees, the course has excellent views of Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock.

WHERE TO STAY

Westin Kierland Resort, centrally located, luxury resort with 27 holes on site, plus a covered driving range and teaching academy. Leisure facilities include a spa and adventure water park.

Five-star Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort, themed on the local Maricopa and Pima cultures, close to Phoenix is located on the Gila River. It has two 18-hole courses, an equestrian centre and casino and views over the Sonoran Desert.

OFF COURSE

Drive between giant saguaro cacti in an open-top Hummer on a desert nature trail (www.roadrunnerdesertadventures.com).

Cross the Verde River on horseback and become a cowboy for the day on the Yavapai Indian Reservation (www.fortmcdowelladventures.com), or fly over the fairways in a hot-air balloon at sunrise towards a champagne breakfast in the desert (www.hotairexpeditions.com).

No visit to Arizona would be complete without seeing the Grand Canyon. The Canyon is a four-hour drive north of Phoenix and the towering red rocks and boulders of Sedona are almost exactly half way there.

CONTACTS BOOK

Where to play

Scottsdale (Stadium Course)

T: 001 480 585 4334

W: www.tpc.com

We-Ko-Pa

T: 001 480 836 9000

W: www.wekopa.com

Kierland

T: 001 480 922 9283

W: www.kierlandgolf.com

Wigwam

T: 001 623 935 9414

W: www.wigwamresort.com

Boulders (North Course)

T: 001 480 488 9028

W: www.theboulders.com

Whirlwind

T: 001 480 940 1500

W: www.whirlwindgolf.com

The Gallery (South Course)

T: 001 520 744 2555

W: www.gallerygolf.com

Oak Creek

T: 001 888 703 9489

W: www.oakcreekcountryclub.com

Where to stay

Westin Kierland Resort

T: 001 480 624 1000

W: www.kierlandresort.com

Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort

T: 001 602 225 0100

W: www.wildhorsepassresort.com

Further info

www.arizonaguide.com, www.scottsdalecvb.com, www.visittucson.org, www.visitsedona.com