Best of Our Valley 2018 Issue: Sports

by Samantha Stull 

Best Golf Community: The Country Club at DC Ranch

Being a club that prides itself on exceptional hospitality and a welcoming atmosphere, it’s no wonder The Country Club at DC Ranch is also regarded as the friendliest throughout the Valley. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the club announced that it will be undergoing an $8.5-million expansion and update to its facility; this will
include a new fitness center, group exercise rooms, a resort-style pool, a casual indoor dining room, a poolside bar, a tween room, an expanded kid’s playroom, an expanded ladies’ lounge and a larger clubhouse kitchen. Namely for the golf community, this expansion will add several enhanced golf practice areas for members to perfect their swings and technique. With a focus on lifestyle and creating a sense of community, providing social activities programming is an important initiative for the club. With this upcoming renovation and expansion, the club is working toward an immersive, best-in- class experience and becoming a one- stop shop for members to have access to every possible amenity they might require. The Country Club at DC Ranch was named Most Philanthropic Country Club Community!

Best 19th Hole: Adobe Restaurant at Arizona Biltmore Golf Club

Arizona Biltmore Golf Club clubhouse is home to the scenic Adobe Restaurant. Its breathtaking golf course-facing patio is the ultimate place for golfers to relax and unwind after playing a round. The 19th hole constantly attracts crowds for meal-time views, happy hour and an extensive assortment of craft beers. Plus, the patio is dog-friendly, so families can bring their furry friends after taking a walk or hike nearby.

Best Pro Shop & Most Challenging Course: Wigwam Golf Club/ The Gold Course at The Wigwam

Originally opened in 1965, The Gold Course at The Wigwam was designed by legendary golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr. During the summer of 2015, this course underwent an extensive renovation, led by PGA Tour veteran, Tom Lehman. The purpose of this change was to modernize the bunkering and layout of the course, without compromising Jones’ original designs and intent. In the end, all 18 of his signature greens remained untouched. Step off the course into the Wigwam’s club to find one of the Valley’s most highly regarded, upscale pro shops for all your golf needs. Also a 2017 winner!

Best Clubhouse Spa: Alvea Spa and Wellness, Encanterra

Alvea Spa and Wellness at Encanterra is reminiscent of a quiet, desert oasis. Being one of the only full-service spas in the surrounding area, Alvea strives to provide clients with personalized treatments and the utmost care to cater to all individual needs. It offers a variety of body treatments, massages, manicures and pedicures, facials, waxing and tinting, along with series of special packages for when you’re feeling like treating yourself or a loved one.

Best Custom Golf Clubs: PXG (Parsons Xtreme Golf)

Parsons Xtreme Golf, or PXG, produces some of the finest golf clubs in the world. Founded by entrepreneur and Valley philanthropist Bob Parsons in 2014, PXG has quickly grown into a global brand, headquartered in Scottsdale, with products available in 41 countries worldwide. The innovative golf clubs exploded in popularity thanks to their high performance, breakthrough innovation in the manufacturing process, quick global adoption and success during all three major professional golf tours. Also a 2017 winner!

Best Pro Sports Team: Arizona Rattlers

With more than 25 seasons in the Valley, the Arizona Rattlers are a beloved team with fans of all ages. Throughout its impressive history, the team has won 68 percent of its games, attracted 2.6 million fans and placed six players in the hall of fame. Playing in Talking Stick Resort Arena, there is seating for more than 14,000 Rattlers’ fans at each game. The Arizona Rattlers also steal the hearts of the Valley off the field by participating in appearances, charitable programs and outreach programs with nonprofits and community groups. Also a 2017 winner!

Best Golf Instructor: Mike Malaska

Incorporating physical fitness programs and the ability to carefully analyze the body and its golf swings has long set apart Valley golf instructor, Mike Malaska of Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club and Las Sendas Golf Club. He is award winning in his profession, with a career that spans 40 years, starting out as a golfer then later moving into teaching. Most recently, Malaska was voted the 2017 PGA Southwest Teacher of the Year.

Best Spring Training Field: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick

The immersive design of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick places fans in the center of the spring training action with their favorite teams, as the stadium is surrounded by batting cages, practice fields and clubhouses. The massive complex seats 11,000 fans, houses a total of 12 practice fields and spans 140 acres of scenic landscape with unmatched views of many surrounding mountains. Also a 2017 winner!

AFM Fave! Best Private Club: Desert Mountain

Have you seen Desert Mountain’s TV spots lately? How about its Wall Street Journal ad? Thirty-plus years after its inception, Scottsdale’s Desert Mountain Club is sharing its reimagined amenities with a new generation of prospects. Dubbed “Reimagined,” the new marketing campaign touts Desert Mountain’s family-friendly lifestyle and vast amenities, featuring world-class golf, horseback riding, a newly remodeled $12-million spa and fitness center, its famous tennis facility, multiple fine-dining options and a wide range of other activities. The club will soon undergo a renovation of its original Renegade golf course, a project that Jack Nicklaus kicked off in February to ensure that existing homeowners have pristine views.

Favorite Arizona Coach: Kevin Guy

Taking on his 10th year as general manager and head coach of the Arizona Rattlers, and his 18th year of coaching arena football, Kevin Guy has led teams to countless wins throughout his career. Last season, the Rattlers joined the Indoor Football League in its inaugural season, and under Guy’s lead finished on a 12-game winning streak as IFL Champions. Season after season, Guy proves himself as a top coach and fan favorite. Also a 2017 winner!

Favorite Arizona Pro Athlete: Larry Fitzgerald

Easily one of Arizona’s most celebrated sports stars, Larry Fitzgerald has been with the Arizona Cardinals since 2004. His record-breaking career has landed him in the Pro Bowl 10 times, more than any other wide receiver in NFL history. Fitzgerald even hosts the star-studded Larry Fitzgerald Double Play Celebrity Softball Game each spring (set for April 21) to benefit the Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund. Also a 2017 winner! 

Most Scenic Course: The Phoenician

With an already impressive, lush surrounding landscape of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, The Phoenician Golf Club is undergoing renovations until Fall 2018 and is about to get even better. Upon its reopening, players will have expansive greens with no surprise bunkers or hazards for increased golfing pleasure. This overhaul is meant to redesign and reroute the previous course, to provide a more contiguous pattern of play.

Best Private Club: FireRock Country Club

The scenic FireRock Country Club is located in the beautiful Fountain Hills area. The relaxed and inviting 29,000-sq. ft. clubhouse has no shortage of luxurious amenities. The world-class golf course is surrounded by breathtaking scenery, plus the club is home to upscale practice facilities and an award-winning pro shop. For those looking for a different experience, FireRock boasts 18 holes of championship golf, panoramic views, exquisite dining, a newly renovated fitness facility and a vibrant social calendar, providing members with an immersive lifestyle club.

Best Sporting Event: Nascar at ISM Raceway

ISM Raceway, formerly known as Phoenix Raceway, hosts two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races as well as a Verizon IndyCar Series race each year. The events bring both local and national crowds out to watch a fast-paced, thrilling sport that keeps fans on the edge of their seat. This iconic Valley landmark has hosted races since 1964, seeing some legendary wins from the most famous names in motorsports including: AJ Foyt, Mario Andretti, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ISM Raceway will look and feel brand new this fall as its $178-million renovation projects comes to a close. The Grand Opening Weekend (taking place Nov. 9-11 for the Can-Am 500 NASCAR Weekend) will unveil a Disneyland-like infield experience complete with an interactive Gatorade Victory Lane, Garage Access and a quick connect tunnel underneath what is now Turn 1 to the new DC Solar Power Pavilion. With new flip-down seats throughout and improved shade available in the new grandstand location, the new ISM Raceway will be more comfortable and convenient than ever before. ISM Raceway also offers two new hospitality options, Curve and ROLL-BAR, as well as the Trackside Bar and Grill for daytime and nighttime entertainment. Complete with free fan WiFi throughout the facility (including the seats), fans will be connected like never before.

Fast Favorites

Best Clothing and Shopping: Troon North Golf Club,

Best Sporting Goods Store: Nike Factory  Store,

Most Philanthropic Athlete: Kurt Warner,

Best Sports Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium,

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