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Use Phoenix Open as epicenter of Scottsdale golf vacation

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Golfers braved the weather on Wednesday in Phoenix at the Boulders Resort South Course, though the Pro-Am was canceled at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. (Brandon Tucker)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – It may not have an international, A-list field, and the host course is middle-of-the-pack among the PGA Tour stops. But the Waste Management Phoenix Open is the best PGA Tour event to center around a golf vacation.

Even in this bizarre weather year, when most of the country was under a blanket of ice, there was only one non-playable day (Wednesday) the whole week in the Valley and some souls (not I) braved it anyways – in shorts, no less.

During Open week in Phoenix, a golf fan can play 18 holes of their own at a top area course, then head to the tour's most charged-up event. The TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course houses a seemingly limitless number of fans, making tickets affordable ($25 general admission) and the crowds are colorful enough to incite whiplash from the absurd to the scantily dressed. But you can still get a front row seat in some great spots on the course – especially if you're not up for the 16th hole heckle-fest.

After sunset, your group can head to the biggest party in town, the Bird's Nest ($25 admission), where over-served guys and gals stumble into one another at the city's biggest party. Live music is the center of attention, as the party feels more like spring break for grown-ups than a PGA Tour after-party.

And while other PGA Tour events tie up the destination's must-plays (e.g. Pebble Beach, Torrey Pines or TPC Sawgrass), you won't be playing second fiddles during tournament week. The TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course is just one of many top shelf plays in the area, and hardly the most scenic or best play for mid-handicappers. Within minutes of TPC is Grayhawk and Troon North, while Boulders Resort, We-Ko-Pa and Talking Stick are within striking distance as well.

These courses charge full boat tournament week and fill their tee sheets, but you can find tee times on some of the scores of area bargain plays, even last-minute. That is, if the Bird's Nest made your foursome too hungover to fully appreciate a $150-200 golf course.