Out in the middle of woop woop

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere. – Carl Sagan

Giant saguaro cactus, Sonoran desert

Giant saguaro cactus, Sonoran desert

It’s good to get out to Maricopa County, Arizona, where the monsoon rains wash the Sonoran desert sands over the roads and giant saguaro cactus strain towards the sky to ensure they suck up each single drop.

At first I thought I’d arrived in the middle of nowhere, what we Aussies call woop woop,  but the estimated 232,000 population of Scottsdale Phoenix would strongly disagree. Though said to be the south-west’s most western town, the area is also coined the jewel of the desert, and it is serious pro-golfing country where business and leisure pursuits come together at exclusive resorts surrounded by outlying Arabian horse studs. If it wasn’t for the desert, parts remind one of the Hunter Valley in NSW, Australia.

So how timely given Phil Mickelson just joined golfing’s elite list after winning the 142nd edition of the oldest championship in golf, the British Open, that I’m smack in the middle of pro-golf territory where his win is the talk of the town! Why wouldn’t it be? The San Diegan is big on the Scottsdale golf scene. In 2011, he and “coach” Steve Loy acquired the operating rights to McDowell Mountain Golf Club and redesigned the course to make it more challenging for better players, and more forgiving and fun for beginning golfers.

And now this near Scottsdale local is ranked second in the world after claiming the fifth major title of his career and his final-round 5 under-par 66 has catapulted it among the great final rounds in golf history! You’d think things couldn’t get any better for a guy who last year also made it into the World Golf Hall of Fame but Mickelson has one more win, the US Open, to secure a career Grand Slam.

Deserts sand wreak havoc on roads following monsoonal rains.

Desert sands wreak havoc on roads following monsoonal rains

So back to Maricopa, described by one visiting Australian as God’s own golf county. Golf.com lists the best golf resorts around Phoenix and Scottsdale rates highly and Troon Golf courses in Arizona explains why. Apparently the 200+ courses here are “as diverse as the south-west itself, each woven into the rugged desert terrain with a unique vision and infused with impeccable quality…”

I’m here by default while I work on the release of an app and website that has often kept me too long indoors with only my imagination to keep me company. So being able to break free at Zona Hotel & Suites where golfers play in the blazing heat, I’m being pleasantly distracted by four different watering holes: the fiesta and cabana pools being among my favourites.

As the hotel promo says there are so many things to do in the Valley of Sun, unhindered by weather, during the day that is. And the sun surely shines on and on until it sets and fierce thunder storms hit, cracking sounds like a Fourth of July party and invoking lightning shows that set the night sky aglow. These monsoonal storms make the nightly news, and until you’ve experienced them and seen the havoc they wreak afterwards, you’d hardly believe it could happen in the middle of what at first appears a desert wasteland.

Despite this, like so many cities and towns in the south-west of the United States, once you dig a little deeper only then do the gems appear. Wikipedia refers to The New York Times’ description of downtown Scottsdale as “a desert version of Miami’s South Beach” and as having “plenty of late night partying and a buzzing hotel scene”.

Welcome to Arizona where some of the best luxury real estate is out woop woop.

Welcome to Arizona where some of the best luxury real estate is out woop woop

For me it is always the real estate advertising that gives the greatest insight into the heart and soul of a city. Scottsdale, for example, attracts flocks of tourists due to those splendid golf courses and magnificent resorts and spas. This in turn is pushing up the luxury home market. Price tags range anywhere between $2.2 million and $13 million, for hacienda-style mansion horse ranches of course!

The line being spruiked is this: “Despite the blossoming of grand vacation retreats and exquisite city surroundings, Scottsdale retains an impressive landscape. From mountain escapes in gated communities that offer beautiful vistas, to country club estates with every amenity, the Scottsdale luxury home market has something for everyone.”

Unfortunately for me, those price tags don’t fit my modest budget, but I’m enjoying the area all the same, especially being among such an elite golfing fraternity.

Judy Wilkinson is a freelance writer in the United States to unleash an app and website onto the US market, which is about to be announced, so best keep a close tab on this page!

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