By Suzanne Koch
Best 19th Hole, Best Public Course and Most Scenic Course: Quintero Golf Club
Designed by master golf course architect Rees Jones, Quintero’s 18 holes are nestled into a secluded desert environment. The northwest Peoria course is often described as the “purest golf experience” in the Southwest and it’s not hard to believe after one look at the impeccably groomed greens and mountain views. Quintero has even earned accolades from some of golf’s best publications like Golf Digest, Golf Weekly and Golf Advisor. Players can tee up from its championship tees for 7,200 yards of stunning desert play. For those looking to get a few more rounds in, relax in on-site luxury condos for a “stay and play” option. quinterogolf.com.
Best Arizona Cheerleaders or Dance Team: ASU Spirit Squad and Dance Team
If you’ve ever been to an ASU football, basketball or volleyball game, odds are you’ve seen this athletic bunch serving as the official ambassadors of Sun Devil Athletics, alongside Sparky of course. Not only do they add an extra dose of spunk to game days and community outreach events, the team is also highly competitive. In fact, the dance team is ranked among the top three in the nation and is the most decorated dance team in the Pac-12. Follow the squad on social media at @asuspiritsquad and @asudanceteam. thesundevils.com.
Best Clubhouse Spa: Alvea Spa & Wellness at Encanterra
Drawing its name from the Spanish word for river bed (“alveo”), spa-goers will note the water and oasis theme throughout. With a focus on rejuvenating the mind, body and spirit, soothing services include body treatments, massages, facials, waxing and tinting and more. Alvea Spa & Wellness at Encanterra is one of the only full-service spas in the area and is open to both members and the public. alveaencanterra.com. Also a 2018 winner!
Best Custom Golf Clubs: Cool Clubs
A unique performance-based fitting method based on four components—equipment, experience, proprietary software and TrackMan—has grown Cool Clubs into the world’s largest independent club-fitting organization. It has more than 20,000 shaft and head combos and all clubs are built in-house at their Scottsdale headquarters. Furthermore, Cool Clubs has no affiliation with any specific club manufacturer, ensuring players walk away with what truly helps them perform their best on the course. coolclubs.com.
Best Golf Clothing & Shopping: Apache Clubhouse at Desert Mountain
After a round of golf, stop in to shop gifts, accessories and apparel for on- and off-course needs. Unique items include made-to-measure belts, Martin Dingman fine leather footwear and Smathers & Branson goods. There’s also plenty of golf swag to go around, from bags and putter covers to apparel and more from brands like MDC, Greyson, Peter Millar, Golfino and Polo Ralph Lauren. desertmountain.com.
Best Golf Community: DC Ranch
Residents of DC Ranch have some of the Valley’s top golf at their fingertips along with a vast array of lifestyle amenities, programs and events. Home to 27 neighborhoods in four distinct villages, DC Ranch focuses on bridging the community with its stunning Sonoran Desert landscape. Adjacent to North Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve, the 4,400-acre community is home for approximately 7,000 residents who enjoy an enriched day-to-day due to DC Ranch’s brand promise: living connected. This is achieved through its unbeatable location, luxury lifestyle and family-friendly environment. dcranch.com.
Best Private Club: Firerock Country Club
Close enough to town but far enough to feel like a desert retreat, this Fountain Hills club caters to both an active and laidback lifestyle. The 18-hole Gary Panks-designed golf course offers players a challenging yet playable layout while tennis, fitness, swimming and dining are available for off-course fun. The club’s warm and inviting atmosphere is what makes this club so desirable. The best part of it all? Residency in the community isn’t required for membership.firerockcc.com. Also a 2018 winner!
AFM Fave! Best Private Club: Country Club at DC Ranch
Coming soon, the Country Club at DC Ranch welcomes Phase II of its highly anticipated $8.5-million expansion and update. The expansion brings a new fitness center, group exercise rooms, a resort-style pool, a casual indoor dining room, a poolside kitchen, an expanded ladies’ lounge, a larger clubhouse kitchen and enhanced golf practice areas and course enhancements. The fresh programming and amenities available at the Country Club at DC Ranch won’t just offer best-in-class opportunities to the adults members; with additions like a tween room and an expanded kid’s playroom, the littlest guests will have much to look forward to as well. ccdcranch.com.
The members of Country Club at DC Ranch were named Most Philanthropic Country Club Community for the second year in a row.
Best Pro Shop and Most Challenging Course: Wigwam Golf Club/The Gold Course at Wigwam
Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., The Gold Course is one of three 18-hole courses at The Wigwam. Long par 4s, memorable par 5s and small elevated greens characterize the 7,345-yard course. A renovation led by PGA TOUR veteran Tom Lehman in 2015 modernized the bunkering and layouts while keeping Trent Jones Sr.’s signatures greens as he intended. The course’s name comes from one of the official colors of the property’s original developer and then-owner, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. For post-play shopping, the club’s pro shop stocks all the industry’s top apparel and equipment brands. wigwamgolf.com. Also a 2018 winner!
Best Sporting Event: Waste Management Phoenix Open
A favorite annual event of locals and visitors alike, the tournament is played at the TPC Stadium Course with some of golf’s top names competing for the winning title. Home to the raucous 16th hole and Birds Nest entertainment venue, the WM Phoenix Open has done an excellent job at attracting spectators outside of the golf community. The tournament also benefits many local charities and has raised more than $134 million in its 83-year history. wmphoenixopen.com.
AFM Fave! Best Up-and-Coming Arizona Team:Phoenix Rising FC
As the 2018 USL Western Conference Champions, Phoenix Rising is quickly gaining momentum. Last season set multiple attendance records with more than 106,000 regular season spectators. Season ticket sales are also up from this time last year and more than 55 sponsors have already signed on for the 2019 season. Even the next generation is getting in on the action. Nearly 8,500 kids are playing for Phoenix Rising FC youth soccer clubs. phxrisingfc.com.
Favorite Arizona Coach: Kevin Guy, Arizona Rattlers
To say Kevin Guy’s list of accomplishments is impressive would be an understatement. He’s spent 10 seasons with the Rattlers and is the winningest coach in the team’s history. He also boasts the highest winning percentage in Arena Football League history and has been named Coach of the Year three times. Additional standout accolades include AF2 Hall of Fame and University of West Alabama Hall of Fame inductee, three-time ArenaBowl Champion, 2017 Indoor Football League Champion and many more. azrattlers.com. Also a 2018 winner!
The Arizona Rattlers was named Best Pro Sports Team!
Favorite Arizona Pro Athlete and Most Philanthropic Athlete: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Loyalty rings true with Cardinals’ wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. His entire pro career he’s donned the red jersey and currently ranks fourth all-time in NFL history in receiving yards per game. This past season, he even threw his very first touchdown pass of his NFL career. He also inspires off the field with his own foundation, the Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund, benefiting both the youth and the ongoing effort to prevent and cure breast cancer. larryfitzgerald.com. Also a 2018 winner!
Best Golf Instructor: Mike Malaska, Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club and Las Sendas Golf Club, malaskagolf.com.
Best Sporting Goods Store: Road Runner Sports, roadrunnersports.com.
Best Sports Venue: Chase Field, chase.crowndns.com.
Best Spring Training Field: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, saltriverfields.com.