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Desert Golf

What You Need to Know To Play Golf in the Desert

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There are wonderful golf courses in the Southwest deserts. The Greater Phoenix area, with over 200 golf courses, is located in the Sonoran Desert. If you are visiting, or new to the area, this may be a little different than you are used to. So put your umbrellas and rain suits away, and get ready to play desert golf.

Playing Golf in the Desert


1. Are there dress requirements in the desert?
Come to the golf course prepared. Most golf courses in Arizona don't allow metal spikes, don't allow denim shorts/pants, and require collared shirts. If you aren't sure, you might as well dress making the assumption that these rules apply, or you may be forced to purchase appropriate clothing before your round.

2. Can I bring my own water?
Although almost every golf course prohibits you from bringing outside food/beverages onto the course, they will never complain if you bring a couple of bottles of water. Bring or purchase water no matter what time of year you play (cart service can be spotty even if offered), but especially in the summer months when dehydration and heat exhaustion are real concerns.

3. What's a Desert Rule?
Many course in the Phoenix area have a desert rule. It usually means that that desert areas are played as water hazards. Take a one stroke penalty, and drop within two club lengths from point of entry.

4. Carts in the desert
Courses in the Phoenix and Scottsdale areas may also have, in addition to the desert rule, a prohibition against driving your cart into the desert. I recommend you ask at the pro shop about any desert rules or instructions before starting your round.

5. You are not alone.
There are critters out there. If you are going to be poking around in bushes or under rocks, use a golf club. Do not reach with your hand or foot. You might disturb a resting rattlesnake or scorpion. Then, OUCH!

6. That water looks good!
You might be surprised how many man made lakes you'll see on our golf courses. Keep in mind that because this is the desert, most courses here are really conserving water. That means that they are using reclaimed water in those lakes. The last thing you want to do is drink it or swim in it, much less even put your hands in it. Use a ball retriever.

7. Summer golf
Golf in the Phoenix area can be expensive during high season (January through April) so those summer rates look mighty attractive. There's a good reason that golf is a lot cheaper in the summer. It's hot. Not just hot. It's take-your-breath-away hot. I've lived in Phoenix for many years, and I do play golf in the summer if it's less than 110°F, but not without (a) sunscreen, (b) a hat, (c) lots of water, some frozen, (d) a wet towel, (e) a phone. Make sure that you drink water constantly, even if you aren't thirsty. I drink some before getting up to every tee box, so it becomes a routine. The healthiest, strongest, most macho individual is subject to heat stroke, and by the time you notice something is wrong, it's too late. The phone is in case you didn't heed this warning, or in case the heat got to you anyway.

8. How about a few brewskis?
You'll notice that I didn't say drink fluids. I said drink water. You can't substitute beer or Bloody Marys for water. Alcohol dehydrates you, and that makes it worse. Drink water, or a sports drink.

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