Best golf courses in Arizona
From TPC Scottsdale to Seven Canyons Golf Club, Arizona’s collection of courses and the unique dry climate make it a superb destination for a golf vacation.
Naturally, you may think that an environment dominated by the desert may not be ideal for golf, however, there are over 300 golf clubs in Arizona of incredibly high quality. And with such a healthy array of first-class accommodations across the state, Arizona is hugely popular for a golf trip.
Scottsdale is the epicenter of golf in Arizona and there are seldom more appealing or attractive places to visit throughout the entirety of the state. The courses are demanding, but when the round has finished, Old Town Scottsdale provides a flawless setting for an evening of entertainment.
Passion for golf within this part of the US isn’t something new. The Phoenix Open holds the record for the largest attendance in PGA TOUR history and none other than Phil Mickelson graduated from Arizona State University.
Arizona can proudly boast 350 days of sunshine per year, making it the ultimate destination for the avid golfer. We’re frequently asked, what are the best golf courses in Arizona? So, we present to you ten MUST play courses in this sun-soaked state.
Grayhawk Golf Club offers visitors two high-quality, yet juxtaposed courses. The Talon was designed by Graham & Parks International in 1994, while the Raptor was made possible by the vision of Tom Fazio a year later.
Of the two, the Raptor is typically preferred, and it is here you will face a more traditional test of golf, the fairways are generous however deep greenside bunkers and well-placed water hazards are found throughout the course. The Talon, by comparison, has a true desert theme that is best characterized by a series of deep box canyons on the back nine and numerous wastelands that will catch a wayward shot.
2. TPC Scottsdale
Surrounded by the Sonoran Desert, the famous TPC Scottsdale is home to two stunning courses: the Stadium and the Champions – the former being the annual host to the Phoenix Open. Described as a classic desert-style course, the Stadium is maintained to PGA TOUR standards year-round - expect fast greens and lush fairways. The signature hole is the par-3 16th, known as “The Coliseum”, as it is the only fully enclosed hole on the PGA TOUR when grandstands are erected for tournament week.
TPC Scottsdale’s Champions Course was designed by Randy Heckenkemper and completed in 2007. The layout certainly rivals its sibling and provides the test you’d expect within the Scottsdale area, with scenic views of the McDowell Mountains complementing the experience.
The course at Quintero was carefully sculpted from a section of heavily vegetated Arizona desert and is commonly described as one of the purest golf experiences in the Southwest. With intelligent bunkering and multi-level bentgrass greens, this Rees Jones designed course offers a difficult yet fair test of golf, with views across the rugged, mountainous desert landscape adding to the experience.
The par-3 9th is often considered the signature hole (or at least the most unforgettable), the tee shot is played across a lake to a green which sits atop a rock wall! Understandably, Quintero regularly ranks as the best to play in the state.
4. Troon North
Troon North Golf Club is a must when visiting the Scottsdale area. Home to 36 holes, the Monument and Pinnacle are difficult to choose between. Completely surrounded by Pinnacle Peak, there are few golf venues that provide such visual satisfaction while offering an excellent test of your game. These courses are the result of the first collaboration between Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish - who took direct influence from the former’s 1973 Open Championship victory at Royal Troon in Scotland.
5. Ak-Chin Southern Dunes
Ak-Chin Southern Dunes is situated on 320 acres of the Ak-Chin Indian Reservation and offers stunning 360-degree views of Arizona’s expansive desert. The course is an Australian Sand Belt-style layout designed by Brian Curley and Fred Couples that was previously a private club until the community gained ownership of the land. It regularly serves as a U.S. Open qualifying site and is a fine example of desert golf. If you’re looking for a golfing challenge on land that is steeped in rich history, then Ak-Chin Southern Dunes is a must-play.
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club resides on Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation land, an area protected against commercial development ensuring the natural landscape will never be compromised. The two courses, Cholla and Saguaro, consistently receive high praise from all that play them.
The Cholla is surrounded by mountains and works its way through desert ridges and arroyos. The Saguaro was designed with walking in mind to enhance the experience of this challenging layout, carved into the natural landscape, elevation changes and more mountain views are all part of the round.
Saguaro Course, We-Ko-Pa Golf Club
7. Wickenburg Ranch Golf Club
The desert theme at Wickenburg Ranch Golf Club is a celebration of its surroundings yet it also provides a tantalizing challenge. The course, known as Big Wick, opened in 2015 and was designed by Bill Brownlee.
Since opening it has received numerous accolades, the best of which was its number 4 position in Golf Digest’s Top 10 New Courses in North America. With sweeping mountain views, lush, flawless bentgrass greens and pin positions that will demand excellent ball-striking, Wickenburg Ranch is the centerpiece of the Wickenburg community.
8. The Golf Club at Dove Mountain
The Golf Club at Dove Mountain is a collection of three nine’s (Saguaro, Tortolita and Wild Burro) all of which were designed by Jack Nicklaus, and as a visitor you have the choice of which 18-hole combination you would like to play. The venue hosted the WGC Accenture Match Play from 2009 to 2014, where Jason Day won the final edition at the property. Elevation changes are found throughout the courses, with some holes at 3,000 feet above sea level – creating surreal views of the valley below.
The Saguaro is set against the backdrop of a Saguaro cactus forest to the West, while the third hole on the Tortolita marks the highest elevation on the course. Finally, the Wild Burro is Nicklaus’ favorite with beautiful vistas of the Tortolita Mountains.
9. Ventana Canyon Golf & Racquet Club
Surrounded by the Santa Catalina Mountains, Ventana Canyon Golf & Racquet Club is located in a visually striking environment. Tom Fazio is responsible for the creation of two wonderful yet strikingly different courses.
The Mountain is the more picturesque of the two – with the signature third hole sitting at the highest point of the golf club. The Canyon layout will divert you through an alternative route, with the impressive backdrop of the Esperero Canyon always in your eye-line. Both award-winning courses offer generous fairways and beautiful views – a typical evaluation of golf in Arizona.
10. Seven Canyons Golf Club
Seven Canyons Golf Club is situated in the Coconino National Forest, 8 miles north of Sedona in a truly spectacular setting with the course surrounded on three sides by the steeply eroded Vermilion Cliffs. Designed by Tom Weiskopf, the layout blends exquisitely into the natural surroundings.
Jagged cliff faces, ancient pine trees, well-placed bunkers and natural arroyos all play their part throughout the 18 holes. Accuracy, strategic thinking and some risk/reward will help put together a good score. Visually stunning, a day at Seven Canyons is a must if you are in the Sedona area.
The combination of great weather and quality golf facilities set in a variety of breath-taking landscapes makes Arizona tough to beat when it comes to a golf vacation.
However, golf isn’t the only standout attraction… steeped in rich history with an array of splendid restaurants, outdoor activities, vibrant nightlife and lodgings that will accommodate all types of budget - you may center your visit around golf, but the culture and lifestyle of Arizona will entice you back time and time again.