Best Bowling 2010 | Squaw Peak Lanes | Sports & Recreation | Phoenix
Here's how much we love Squaw Peak Lanes: The last time we were there, our cocktail server dumped an entire tray of drinks in our lap. Still, we keep returning because this place is so clean and modern and comfortable that it compares to no other alley in town. The snack bar offers more than just the usual popcorn and nachos routine (try the deluxe hot dog with brown mustard!) and we haven't seen a better beer selection at a bowling alley bar, ever. We feel like part of the Squaw Peak clan, thanks to the Online Bowling League coupons delivered directly to our e-mail box every week, and because the folks up front are so friendly and even remember our shoe size! The computerized scoring and the keen tunes are the best in town.
For much of the year, it's too hot to walk outside, let alone take the kids to the plastic greens for a round of mini-golf. Jambo! is the answer. It offers an 18-hole miniature golf course surrounded by jungle animals — lions and tigers and hippos. You get the picture. Think pizza, ice cream, rides, games, and birthday parties with a golf club in hand and you'll have full visual on what this gem is all about. As a bonus, Jambo! is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Throw your next birthday party there or swing in for a random fun-filled Tuesday afternoon. Animal print pants optional!
Tempe residents don't need no stinkin' driving range. They live near one of the straightest fairways in all of Arizona: the railroad tracks that run right through the center of town. It's not exactly legal — nor is it safe — and we're not saying we recommend anyone actually do it, but we imagine it's a great spot to really grip it and rip it. The narrow slot carved through Tempe neighborhoods by the tracks requires your drive to be both straight and long — straight to ensure you don't hit any houses and long to give you ample time to run should you hit any houses.
Considering how golf-mad Arizona is, you might expect to find more mega-ranges like south Tempe's Fiddlesticks spread across our green-with-wastewater Valley. Not really. This large range is well lit in the hot desert evenings and open late, featuring a two-story tee structure to maximize space and 60 grass tee boxes for purists looking for the realest deal they can get. You can get 100 balls for $8, which isn't a bad price considering how posh the range is, and they've got a slate of pros on hand to help you with your swing if you're interested in purchasing a lesson. Also of interest to busy parents: Since this is a full-service family fun center, it's not hard to find something to occupy the kids while you sweeten your swing. After all, if there's anything better than working out some stress by crushing a bucket at the range, it's doing it guilt-free while the rest of the family rides go-karts or bumper boats.
When it comes to golf carts, Kierland Golf Club is still the best for one reason: air conditioning. Kierland already had top-of-the-line carts, but about two years ago, the course took what was already state of the art and cooled it off with G2 air conditioners designed by Phoenix based company Coolwell Inc. Some say using a cart is lazy; those people have probably never played golf in Phoenix in the summer. Golfers at Kierland can cruise the course in the Cadillac of carts in total comfort, even when it's 120 degrees outside.
Chances are, you're not good enough to play at TPC Scottsdale, and you have no business ever setting foot on the course to do anything but watch the pros. Be that as it may, it's fun to pretend, and in the summer you can pretend on the cheap. For $65, you can play where the pros play and enjoy all the bells and whistles of a PGA Tour course. If $65 for a few hours of golf doesn't seem like a bargain, look at it this way: To play the same course in December, it's gonna run you about $300.
We all love to play the pro courses, and in the Valley there's no shortage of great greens. The problem, however, is that if you want to play them in the winter, you may have to find a second job. That's why summer golfers at Troon North or TPC Scottsdale often find their way to the public courses once the rates go up. Public courses — for the most part — suck. Ken McDonald is one of the few exceptions. The par-72 championship course is scenic, always in great shape, got brand-new carts last year, and, most importantly, you can still play on the cheap. Winter rates at Ken McDonald fluctuate but rarely go above $38, and they can be as low as $28.
We're always on the lookout for a beautiful view on a golf course (yeah, we know . . .), what with our collective game being so darned lousy that we need an excuse to be out there. Well, the par-4 10th at this North Phoenix resort does it for us, and then some. It starts with the tee box, more than 10 stories high on a desert hillside. Looming magnificently before you are both Piestewa Peak and Lookout Mountain. At some point, you've got to hit the little white ball, which is a whole other trip. Just get the darned thing airborne and it will stay up forever, looking vaguely like a pro's shot as it drops about 175 feet or so to the fairway. With your second shot, you have to navigate three bunkers that protect a sloping green. Putting? Well, can't help you much there. It's the getting there that provides the fun.
During a bad round, every golfer has that moment on the golf course when he or she stops and asks, "Why do I play this miserable game?" That's when it happens: One good hole changes your entire outlook and you start thinking about joining the PGA Tour. The 11th hole at the Ken McDonald Golf Course has serious ego-boosting potential. It's a par 5 and plays about 570 yards from the tips, but it's a fairly straight shot with a flat green. Hit a good drive, plop your second shot on the green, and you're lookin' at eagle. At that point, your double-bogey-filled front nine becomes a distant memory that will be forgotten completely when you tell your friends how you played.
ASU's running track has a lot to offer joggers. Its dirt surface is easier on the feet than asphalt. It's a long-ish 0.44 miles (750 yards), which gives a sense of accomplishment for each lap. And it's safer than dodging SUVs in the streets. The best part, though, is the inspiration: the young men and women showing off their athletic prowess in the grass fields inside the track. Whether they're playing soccer or softball, practicing a 100-yard dash or just cavorting with each other, these hard-body college folks make being in great shape look easy. The glee on their faces counterbalances our grimace, and the mood is infectious. Watching the energized students, we're reminded that being fit is fun — and that puts more spring in our step.

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