A look at how destination golf is evolving in Scottsdale
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press
There are few other universally accessible destinations around the world quite like the Valley of the Sun when it comes to golf — and for many, the community of Scottsdale is the epicenter of all things fun.
But a challenge for many, golf travel experts contend, is getting top-notch accommodations and tee-time locales all within a reasonable budget line.
“It really came from the demand from our clients with how popular Old Town Scottsdale is,” said Scottsdale resident Ryan Northrop, co-founder & CEO at golftroop.com. “Golfers really like to be close to the restaurant and nightlife scene and all Scottsdale has to offer. GolfTroop had already worked with — and still does — some hotels in Old Town and they are some of our most popular lodging options for our golf groups. By offering some loft-type, short-term rental units, we felt it would be a great fit for many of our clients.”
As local rules and regulations emerge around short-term rentals, Mr. Northrop says he is seeing more and more opportunities for the traveling golfer to take advantage of desirable golf destinations like, “The West’s Most Western Town.”
“There are golf groups that want to stay and play at the best courses and then there are those that have a really tight budget that just want to get out of the winter weather,” Mr. Northrop points out of the wide gamut of “golfer buckets” a part of the domestic and international golf traveling consumer modus operandi. “Our aim is to offer something special for every group, whether a private home, hotel, condo/loft, etc. We then work to pair the lodging with courses that match up with what the groups are looking for. Some groups are lower handicaps and want to take on the tougher courses. Some just want to have fun and not lose a lot of golf balls each day.”
The No. 1 priority for the reservation platform at golftroop.com? Mr. Northrop says delivering safe, one-of-a-kind experiences for his clients who hail from all over the world.
“What we are trying to do is offer local knowledge based on what the golf groups tell us they are looking for,” he said. “Courses that are in great or not great shape, driving distances, hidden gem courses, lodging that best fits their needs, dining options, nightlife or even private chefs. We have worked hard over the years to really get to know the Phoenix and Scottsdale area, the courses, and all our lodging partners so we can best guide our clients on what to do.”
Mr. Northrop offers working with the locals who are in the know can oftentimes lead to the best rates.
Scottsdale resident Ryan Northrop, co-founder & CEO at golftroop.com
“Overall, we really have one goal: To provide the best-possible golf vacation experience for any budget,” he said. “Our teams at GolfTroop and Best Arizona Vacation Rentals work really hard every day to make this happen. From our golf package sales team to our property managers, to our office admins, to our cleaning team, we are fanatical about delivering the experience our clients want so they make some great memories with who they are traveling with.”
Mr. Northrop explains rules, regulations and management companies play a key role in making sure everyone enjoys their time in Old Town Scottsdale — especially at the 70th Lofts.
“We feel that STRs are a great thing but hosts and management companies play a vital role in doing it the right way with respecting neighbors, the properties,” he said of his priority. “Properties we manage are on Airbnb and VRBO. We have many families/groups booking through these portals and are happy to host them and provide a memorable vacation experience.”
Scottsdale as a golf destination? You bet
Tourism officials in Scottsdale say there is no other experience akin to the “19th hole” offerings in and around the greater Scottsdale area.
“Scottsdale is an ideal golf destination because it has opportunities for golfers of all budgets and levels, from experienced golfers ready to tackle our championship courses to novices looking to try their swings at TopGolf,” said Stephanie Pressler, director of community affairs at Experience Scottsdale. “Scottsdale also is recognized for our ‘19th hole’ offerings. Once golf travelers pack up their clubs, they have plenty of options to choose from for a post-round drink or meal, from premier clubhouses to award-winning dining found throughout the city.”
According to the Arizona Alliance for Golf, Arizona’s golf industry generates $4.6 billion in annual economic impact for the state and supports nearly 51,000 jobs, Ms. Pressler told the Arizona Digital Free Press earlier this month.
But not everyone can afford Scottsdale prices for lodging — and golf, a problem Mr. Northrop seeks to solve with the 70th Lofts found in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale.
“The 70th Lofts has a community hot tub, BBQ, outdoor hangout area, pool table, putting green and gated/garage parking. The location is great as well as it is a short walk or very quick ride-share jaunt from wherever you want to be in Old Town. The Phoenician Golf Resort is just down the road, a great partner we work with a lot. We also work with Camelback (two courses) and Talking Stick.”
The short-term rental model has become a boon for the frequent golf traveler, Mr. Northrop says, as the desire of the traveling groups is evolving along with gigabyte economy.
“We think it is great overall. Our golfing clients sure love it as well. We feel the industry is changing as people want to stay together and enjoy private homes or condos/lofts where they can do things like BBQ, play golf games in a golf simulator — we have two homes with golf sims — hang by the pool or hot tub, have a chef come in for a night, or cook/grill together,” he said.
“This is not just golfers but families as well. There is also a large cost savings for our clients versus booking a hotel where you just have one room with one or two beds. That gets expensive when you are looking at 4-6 hotel rooms versus a 4–6-bedroom home with fantastic amenities. We also go above and beyond in laying out the property’s rules, quiet hours, have monitors for noise, and even staff that work after hours monitoring properties to make sure these rules are followed.”