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Commonly touted as 'the West's most Western town', Scottsdale attracts more than seven million tourists a year, suggesting that it's not quite as gritty and violent as you'd expect such a Western town to be. In fact, it's quite the opposite.

Scottsdale is the kind of place that makes the word 'oasis' seem a little hollow. It's affluent, often opulent, surrounded by some of the continent's most rugged territory and yet studded with lush emerald jewels - namely, golf courses, the epitome of the modern leisure class.

Western shmestern - in reality, the secret of the Arizona success story par excellence is the little white balls hit around a park with ridiculously thin sticks. It boggles the mind to try to imagine how much water is needed to maintain the countless golfing communities and resorts, so it's little wonder that Scottsdale attracts well-heeled retirees from all across the country, and that many of its attractions are geared at providing harmless fun to families of all ages. It's the town on Phoenix's urban fringe not just an oasis but a mecca: a shrine to capitalist consumption in all its nonchalant glory, where shopping is rivalled only by - you guessed it - golf as the hobby of hobbies.

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