Golf holidays the USA are as popular as it has been for many years with more and more new golfers taking up the game every year. Where to play is now a question on everyone’s lips, and deserts are great places to create contrasting designs using just the natural environment for inspiration.
Where to play Golf in Scottsdale
Arizona is just one of those great desert covered states with its golfing hub in Scottsdale. It is surrounded by the Tonto National Forest on one side and numerous deserts on the others.
With 200 golf courses and a dozen resorts in the greater Scottsdale area is it any wonder why we all ask the questions where do I, or should I play in Scottsdale and its surrounding areas?
Our Top 10 Courses in Scottsdale
10. Kierland Golf Course
This Kierland golf club is a Troon managed facility sitting in the Sonoran desert surrounded by the beauty and a backdrop of surrounding mountains of Camelback, Mummy, Pinnacle Peak, and the McDowells.
The Kierland golf club sits on one of the larger resorts and has a 27- hole a Championship layout. The three nine’s here are the Acacia, Mesquite, and Ironwood courses. The valleys and hills’ park-like setting are resplendent in their emerald green fairways etched with the golden-coloured desert grasses. There are constant elevation changes. Green is fast Bermuda greens all kept in immaculate condition.
Although not the toughest of tests on any of the three courses but resort golf is highly recommended and great for golfers of all abilities.
Designer: Scott Miller
Opened for play: 1996
Location: 15636 N Clubgate Dr, Scottsdale
9. Estrella Golf Course
The golf club of Estrella is located at the heart of the Estrella Mountain Ranch community. Another Troon managed golf courses Estrella continuously gets rated in the top 20 courses to play in Scottsdale.
This course is the first daily fee course designed but no other than Jack Nicklaus II, yes that’s junior to his world-famous father.
Located just outside of Phoenix, the golf course features spectacular views back to the Estrella Mountain range.
The fairways almost overlay the natural surrounding golden desert grasses with its blanket of rolling green. Although the golf course is a public golf course, the service here is first-class, and all players get treated as if they are members of a private golf club.
A popular choice with golfers just playing golf in Scottsdale for the very first time.
Designer: Jack Nicklaus II
Opened for play: 1999
Location: 11800 S Golf Club Dr, Goodyear
8. TPC Champions Course
The TPC Champions golf course here in Scottsdale is by no means a poor second to the Stadium course with many golfers preferring this layout. This Randy Heckenkemper designed 18-hole Championship challenge the course is built upon the former Desert course site. In 2007 was completely revamped to flow more with the natural terrain and create the opportunity to keep all golfers’ attention as the round progresses. The last four holes here are unprecedented, with the best of golfers getting the proverbial goose-bumps.
Designer: Randy Hecenkemper
Opened for play: 1986
Location: 17020 N Hayden Rd, Scottsdale
7. Quintero Golf Course
Quintero golf course is a fantastic golf course carved out of the desert by none-other than master golf course designer Rees Jones. Another fantastic golf course managed by Troon Golf and another great course by Rees Jones.
There are generous landing areas off-the-tee for the straight-hitter lulling you into that false sense of security in typical Rees Jones-style. Strategically placed bunkers mean that and errant tee shots will land in the strategically placed bunkers.
Playing into the bent-grass greens takes patience and nerves and all players.
This course is long enough to test even scratch golfers with several tee boxes for an alternative golf handicap from the back tee.
Quintero has a reputation for having some of the best playing surfaces with the golf course condition that can only be described as pristine. Golf Advisor voted Quintero as the best public golf course in 2019 and was in the top 40 US public golf courses in the same year. It also received Best Public golf course in 2017 by both Golf Digest and Golfweek golf magazines.
So, for many playing golf in the USA or the Scottsdale area, it is also another golf course to add to your bucket list of must-play golf courses providing one of the best-golfing experiences that the area has to offer.
Designer: Rees Jones
Opened for play: 2000
Location: 16752 W, AZ-74, Peoria
6. We-Ko-Pa Saguaro Golf Course
McDowell has a great selection of golf courses and another of our favourites here are the courses on offer at We Ko Pa golf resort.
The Saguaro golf course is the shorter of the two courses and is designed as walker golf. The greens are situated relatively close to the next tee box making walking here easily possible for the average golfer. Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore put their heads together to develop this great course layout with wider fairways and plenty of alternative routes into the greens given every golfer their own strategy to getting the job done in their style. Saguaro has plenty of dry wash area normally in front of guarding the greens along with the odd bunker or two, well around 300 all-in-all. The second hole is just short of 30 yards, so the longer hitter has the opportunity to drive the green. Those choosing not to use the driver can layout with a short iron in, stay left of the green as the green slope to the right, and awaiting bunkers.
A great golf test which for the USA has the unusual option of walking… just for a change.
Designer: Ben Crenshaw
Opened for play: 2006
Location: 18200 WeKoPa Way, Fort McDowell
5. The Boulders Golf Club
This semi-private golf club in Carefree Arizona offers two golf courses at The Boulders golf club. The 36 holes offered here can only be described as world-class respected golf architect Jay Morrish designs both the North and South golf course golf courses.
The older of the two golf courses in the North Course measuring some 6,969 yards from the back tees not far from the 7,000-yard mark, some say it is near enough, and others say it is plenty. An area of natural beauty surrounds the North in the Sonoran desert with Black Mountain’s backdrop with some panoramic breathtaking vistas. As the name suggests, the golf courses wind its way through huge boulders that dot this impressive landscape and community as a whole.
Although not the original golf course offered here, the South Course is even more breathtaking than the North and preferred as a viewing spectacle for all that have played it. The rock formations are more prevalent here and spectacle to all. During your round on the South Course, you will experience the signature “Boulder Pile” and also “Rosie’s Rock” two of the resort’s most impressive rock formations. A shorter course by some distance the South course still weighs in at a Championship 6,421 yards from the White tees. Some of the South course holes go deep into the rock foundations creating a spectacle of golf not offered anywhere else.
Should you wish to do so, you can stay and play here; it is an impressive golf resort with golf in spectacular surroundings and one we can highly recommend.
Designer: Jay Morrish
Opened for play: 1985
Location: 34631 N. Tom Darlington Drive P.O. Box 2090 Carefree
4. We-Ko-Pa Cholla Golf Course
The WE-KO-PA Resort has two fantastic championship golf courses, the Saguaro and the Cholla golf course.
The Cholla golf course, a Scott Miller design offers dramatic vistas across the McDowell, Red, Metal, and Verde River Mountains, highlighted by the snow-capped four peaks. This golf course is and is one of the most Picturesque desert courses anywhere. With this in mind, you end up with one of the most pristine golf experiences in the Southwest with no homes or developments planned to spoil the sweeping views. The lack of surrounding land use makes the Cholla golf course a one and the only Sonoran Desert retreat.
Awards come hand-in-hand with this beautiful course and have awarded every year since its opening back in 2001.
For bucket-list golf, this has to be right up there, when playing here the essential piece of equipment has to be your trusty camera.
Designer: Scott Miller
Opened for play: 2001
Location: 18200 Wekopa Way, Fort McDowell
3. Grayhawk Talon Golf Course
Grayhawk Golf Club has two great courses in the Raptor and Talon; our favourite is the Talon. The Grayhawk Talon Golf course measures shy of 7,000 yards from the back tees and winds its way through the Sonoran and is considered one of the most exciting and dramatic tests, of golf in the Southwest. Providing breath-taking views of the McDowell mountains and vistas of the Pheonix / Scottsdale skyline.
The back nine are built around a series of deep box canyons with thick stands of Ironwood, Mesquite and Palo Verde trees. The vantage point, of the tee boxes, creates the impression of the holes being much tighter than they actually are. Therefore the accuracy of the tee is very much paramount.
The Talon golf course has hosted the final of the Anderson Consulting World Championships of golf several times and is one of many reasons we choose it.
Designer: Gary Panks
Opened for play: 1981
Location: 8620 E Thompson Peak Pkwy, Scottsdale
2. TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course
With no introduction required, the USPGA Tour chooses its Venues very carefully, and the TPC Scottsdale Stadium course here is no different. The popular Waste Management Pheonix Open venue is an event that brings in some of the largest crowds in US Tour golf.
The Stadium course which was renovated in 2014 is a Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish design and is most famous for its par – 3 16th Hole. The only green on USPGA Tour golf surrounded by spectator stands it holds up to no less than 20,000 fans watching the spectacle that unravels through the four days of play.
For the remaining 51 weeks of the year, the course can be enjoyed and appreciated for its sheer quality with its pristine greens fantastic all-around conditioning.
Designer: Tom Weiskopf
Opened for play: 1986
Location: 17020 N Hayden Rd, Scottsdale
1. Troon North Golf Club
Troon North golf certainly gets our vote here, with 36 Holes of golf on-site in the Pinnacle and Monument golf courses. The resort is set into the Sonoran Desert and winds its way through natural ravines under the shadows of Pinnacle Peak. Giant granite boulders litter this rugged and yet beautiful landscape along with the thousands of varying types of Cacti.
Of the two golf courses on-site the better of the two is generally undisputed with the Pinnacle course coming out on top.
Both courses have immaculately groomed fairways with bentgrass greens, Tom Weiskopf as the original designer has recently made some recent renovations improving upon and creating two fantastic and challenging layouts. Troon North has consistently been revered as the crown jewel in Scottsdale golf and long may it continue keeping Scottsdale firmly on USA golf map.
Troon North combines iconic golf with the visual sensations of spectacular desert landscapes and stands out as Scottsdale’s Number 1.
Designer: Tom Weiskopf
Opened for play: 1995
Location: 10320 E Dynamite Blvd, Scottsdale
Golfing here in Scottsdale is a great challenge and offers so many spectacular choices of golf both scenic and cost-effective golf. Scottsdale is almost a bucket-destination all of its own.
How many golf courses are there in the Scottsdale area?
There are 200 golf courses and inclusive of those are 12 golf resorts.
Are any of the golf courses in Scottsdale used for USPGA Tour Events?
Yes, the TPC Stadium Course is used for the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Which of the golf courses at Troon North is the best?
The Pinnacle course at Troon North has consistently been listed as the better course on numerous Top 100 course listings
Which TPC Scottsdale course is the better one?
Generally, the actual better course is the TPC Stadium course which suits the better golfer, across the range of handicaps varieties, the Champions course is more suitable, and therefore, a better all-around golf course.