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Best in State

The best golf courses in Arizona

When you think of Arizona golf, you’re likely thinking of desert-lined fairways that present a demanding style of target golf. And while The Grand Canyon State has plenty of great desert courses, including over 200 in the Scottsdale area, the dramatic mountain courses in the northern half of the state show the variety of topography that makes golf in Arizona so fascinating. Both styles are well represented in our latest ranking of the Best Golf Courses in Arizona, the result of thousands of evaluations from our 1,900 course-ranking panelists.

Below you'll find our 2023-'24 ranking of the Best Golf Courses in Arizona. If you're interested in the best public options, check out our collection of the best courses you can play in Arizona.

We urge you to click through to each individual course page for bonus photography, drone footage and reviews from our course panelists. Plus, you can now leave your own ratings on the courses you’ve played … to make your case why your favorite should be ranked higher. 

1. (1) The Estancia Club
Private
1. (1) The Estancia Club
Scottsdale, AZ
4.7
151 Panelists
Estancia, our Best New Private Course of 1996, was Tom Fazio’s initial entry into the Scottsdale scene. Positioned beneath the north slopes of Pinnacle Peak and routed to provide a variety of uphill and downhill shots and a change of direction on almost every hole, Estancia is an easterner’s version of rock-and-cactus architecture, with wide turf corridors, few desert carries and greens wilder than most. Former Fazio design associate Kevin Sutherland (no relation to the PGA Tour player of the same name) has made slight design adjustments in recent years.
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2. (2) Forest Highlands Golf Club: Canyon
It has three par 5s over 600 yards and a par 4 measuring 478 yards, but the Canyon Course at Forest Highlands still plays shorter than its listed yardage. That’s due in part to its elevation at 7,000 feet and partly because it has six par 3s, a strong collection spaced every other hole from the fourth through 14th. Both nines are routed along mountain ridges, with holes edged by stately ponderosa pines. The ninth is especially scenic, as it drops down an escarpment into a narrow stream valley to a double green it shares with the 18th hole.
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3. (3) Whisper Rock Golf Club: Upper Course
Whisper Rock’s Upper Course was intended, as the club’s second 18, to specifically test its low-handicap and PGA Tour pro membership, but Tom Fazio couldn’t resist being a crowd-pleaser, so although he designed 18 holes with demanding angles to diagonal fairways from the back tees, his landing areas for average golfers are generous and most greens are cradled with ample chipping areas. All players enjoy the scenic beauty of this patch of Sonoran Desert, with the front nine holes framed by dry washes and a four-hole stretch on the back woven through astonishing towers of balanced granite boulders. “That’s a beautiful, beautiful stretch, going up into those boulders and back down towards Pinnacle Peak,” said Fazio at the grand opening. “But I’m proud of the entire course, as it’s got a whole bag of different looks.” Whisper Rock’s other 18, the older Lower Course, is ranked No. 174.
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4. (5) Whisper Rock Golf Club: Lower Course
Phil Mickelson wanted his course design debut to be something different than the typical Scottsdale desert layout, so he had some fairways recessed into the landscape to create elevation change, kept tee boxes flush with the ground and built mostly long, narrow greens edged by chipping hollows. Mickelson calls them “Pinehurst greens.” Bunkers are surprisingly shallow and fairways are uniformly wide, because he dislikes holes that bottleneck down for big hitters. There’s plenty of grass in which to play, and a surprising number of trees on the layout, including palo verde, juniper and mesquite. Phil considers his design to be a second-shot course, “and we don’t have the same second shot two times in a row,” he says. One second shot, on the par-5 third, must contend with a “ha ha wall,” a three-foot-high ledge of stacked rock that edges the putting surface. That’s definitely different than anything in Scottsdale.
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5. (NR) Scottsdale National Golf Club: The Other Course
4
33 Panelists
The Other Course, built by David Kahn and Tim Jackson, is the second 18-hole course at Scottsdale National. Owned by PXG founder Bob Parsons, the course is one of the new century’s most exciting, creative design expressions—golf presented as a physical and psychological journey—though very few people have seen it due to the extreme private nature of the club.
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6. (4) Stone Canyon
Private
6. (4) Stone Canyon
Tucson, AZ
The Stone Canyon Club, which climbs the slopes of the Tortolita Mountains north of Tucson, is considered the consummate desert design of the late golf architect Jay Morrish. Restricted by Arizona law to 90 acres of grass, Morrish’s routing demands forced carries over barrancas off several tees, but not into any green. Artful contouring mimics the ebb and flow of the rugged terrain, bunkers seem spun by nature and the glorious scenery, which includes the Catalina Mountains at the east end of the Sonoran desert, is spiked with Saguaro cactus. Ancient granite boulders and outcroppings don’t just frame holes, but play an integral part in many design strategies. Stone Canyon is a fitting punctuation to Morrish’s sterling career.
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7. (6) Pine Canyon
Private
7. (6) Pine Canyon
Flagstaff, AZ
4.8
50 Panelists
This luxury mountain community in Flagstaff features a championship golf course consistently ranked in the top 10 on our Best in Arizona list. There are a variety of holes at Pine Canyon, with towering ponderosa pines, meandering streams, tall native grasses and pristine ponds all coming into play. The San Francisco Peaks tower over the course and offer scenic views, especially on the back nine.
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8. (7) Desert Forest Golf Club
Private
8. (7) Desert Forest Golf Club
Carefree, AZ
4.3
145 Panelists
Widely considered to be the first desert course ever built, Desert Forest was designed by Robert “Red” Lawrence—a founding member and president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects—and opened in 1962. Revered for its minimalist design and effective use of the natural contours of the land, the course has been previously ranked on our 100 Greatest and Second 100 Greatest lists. In 2013, the course underwent a $3 million renovation led by David Zinkland—a longtime associate of the Coore and Crenshaw design firm—which improved sightlines from tee boxes, added strategic bunkering and refined the greens. Referred to by our own Mike Stachura as “an American golf course design landmark,” Desert Forest is deceptively simple, with few fairway bunkers or doglegs, but requires thoughtful strategy to manage the undulating layout.
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9. (10) Forest Highlands Golf Club: Meadow
4
48 Panelists
The Tom Weiskopf-designed Meadow course at Forest Highlands is a parkland layout that plays among tall pines, wildflowers and scenic wetlands. The Meadow course has hosted three USGA championships: the 2006 U.S. Mid-Amateur (co-host), 2014 U.S. Girls Junior and 2019 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. A relatively flat layout, the course is easily walkable and offers beautiful views of the San Francisco Peaks, most notably on the 14th and 15th holes. The course has consistently been ranked in the top 15 on our Best in Arizona list.
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10. (8) Desert Highlands Golf Club
Private
10. (8) Desert Highlands Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ
4.1
120 Panelists
Host of the first two televised Skins Games in 1983 and 1984 featuring Nicklaus, Palmer, Player and Watson, Desert Highlands is a Jack Nicklaus design sitting at the base of Pinnacle Peak. With stunning views of the surrounding desert, valley and moutains, the course demands precise ball-striking to find the relatively narrow fairways. The course has been previously ranked on our 100 Greatest and Second 100 Greatest rankings.
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11. (13) Silverleaf Club
Private
11. (13) Silverleaf Club
Scottsdale, AZ
4.2
55 Panelists
A couple miles from the Tom Weiskopf-designed Stadium course at TPC Scottsdale, the private Silverleaf Club is another Weiskopf desert layout. All aspects of Silverleaf are top-notch, from the scenic, challenging course to the 50,000 square-foot Mediterranean-style clubhouse to the expansive practice facility, where tour pros such as Jon Rahm practice. Weaving through the canyons of the McDowell Mountains, the well-bunkered course has many greens with significant, occasionally severe undulations.
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12. (11) Desert Mountain Club: Chiricahua Course
4.2
115 Panelists
One of six Jack Nicklaus-designed courses at Desert Mountain, Chiricahua ranges in elevation from 3,000 to 3,300 feet, creating several dramatic dropoffs from tee to fairway. Though the landing areas—guarded by deep-faced bunkers and desert—can be visually intimidating, they often play wider than they appear. Just north of Scottsdale, the course offers scenic views of the city and surrounding mountains. Chiricahua has previously been ranked on our Second 100 Greatest list and is currently among our top courses in Arizona.
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13. (12) Desert Mountain Club: Geronimo Course
4
122 Panelists
Arguably the most visually intimidating of the seven courses at Desert Mountain Club, Geronimo is a classic target-style layout with narrow fairways and many forced carries over desert and ravines. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, who described it as “the strong-looking course,” Geronimo offers scenic panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. In most cases, Nicklaus gives players a choice of how much forced carry to take on, creating risk-reward opportunities. The challenging layout concludes with a demanding par 3 that plays over a deep ravine to a two-tiered green adjacent to the clubhouse.
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14. (9) Desert Mountain Club: Renegade Course
4.1
84 Panelists
We named Renegade one of the most important designs of its decade in a magazine feature in 2010 for its unique versatility. Each hole includes seven tee boxes and two pin placements. There are six double greens with two pin locations, and 12 holes have two greens that are separated by as much as 100 yards. Before the round, golfers can decide the set of tees and pins that are preferred for their skill level. The Renegade was the first of six Jack Nicklaus courses to open at Desert Mountain Club. A recent renovation has ensured Renegade maintains its place as one of the most influential courses in the country.
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15. (19) Scottsdale National Golf Club: Mineshaft
4.3
46 Panelists
The Mineshaft course is the original of the three courses at Scottsdale National, previously known as The Golf Club of Scottsdale, which was purchased by PXG owner Bob Parsons in 2013. With little built-up infrastructure around the property, the secluded course is a true desert-golf experience. There are plenty of panoramic views of the McDowell Mountains and Four Peaks, especially on the tee at the downhill par-3 16th. Scottsdale National is an extremely private club owned by Parsons, who says that “We have one rule: no member shall ever impede on another member’s good time.”
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16. (14) The Rim Golf Club
Private
16. (14) The Rim Golf Club
Payson, AZ
4
64 Panelists
The Rim Golf Club sits about an hour-and-a-half northeast of Scottsdale and unlike many traditional desert layouts, the Tom Weiskopf design is a mountain course that has plenty of trees and elevation changes. The fairways are framed by towering Ponderosa pines and dramatic rock outcroppings. Situated at 5,000 feet elevation, the course plays much shorter than its scorecard distance, which ranges from 5,200 to 7,200 yards. The scenic layout was ranked 52nd on our 100 Greatest Public list in 2011-2012.
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17. (15) Quintero Golf Club
Public
17. (15) Quintero Golf Club
Peoria, AZ
Perhaps no course in the greater Phoenix area provides a better experience of the area's diverse topography. Some holes are framed by mountain ridges, others are out in the Sonoran desert. Still others are edged by manmade irrigation lakes or natural desert washes. Holes like the par-5 eighth and par-4 14th climb up long slopes, while dazzling par 3s at six and 16 plunge dramatically downhill. Quintero, a former private club, is a scenic and playable delight.
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18. (17) Mirabel Golf Club
Private
18. (17) Mirabel Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ
4.1
86 Panelists
This Tom Fazio design is an aesthetically pleasing desert layout with generous fairways that play gradually tighter the farther you hit it. The deep-green fairways sharply contrast with the imposing bunkers and lurking Sonoran desert. The greens are quite large and undulating, allowing for a variety of hole locations and requiring deft touch. Mirabel’s conditioning gets consistently high marks from our panelists.
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19. (20) Troon Country Club
Private
19. (20) Troon Country Club
Scottsdale, AZ
4.3
81 Panelists
Designed by Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf in the mid-1980s, Troon Country Club was one of the first desert courses in the Scottsdale area. The course—ranked for 10 years on our 100 Greatest list from 1989-1998—is relatively playable and allows the golfer to run the ball up onto many greens. That said, finding the generally wide fairways is essential, as they are closely guarded by cacti-filled desert.
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20. (16) Chaparral Pines
Private
20. (16) Chaparral Pines
Payson, AZ
4
48 Panelists
About an hour and a half northeast of Phoenix, Chaparral Pines is a private mountain course designed by two-time major champion David Graham. The course—formerly owned by Phil Mickelson—is tight and demanding with tall pines and rocky outcroppings guarding many landing areas. The heavily wooded mountain setting is unique for Arizona, with a feel more reminiscent of golf in the Lake Tahoe area.
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21. (22) Wickenburg Ranch: Big Wick
Public
21. (22) Wickenburg Ranch: Big Wick
Wickenburg, AZ
4
77 Panelists
The manageable summer temperatures at high elevation of this par-71 championship golf course allows for guests to experience well-manicured Bentgrass greens all year round. The desert track, known as “Big Wick,” is tucked away in North Phoenix and offers fantastic views of Vulture Peak and Prescott National Forest. Additionally, Wickenburg Ranch is home to a laid-back 9-hole par-3 course nicknamed “Li’l Wick” with hammocks and rest areas located between holes.
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22. (24) Desert Mountain Club: Cochise Course
3.9
71 Panelists
Jack Nicklaus not only designed the Cochise course at Desert Mountain Club but also won the major on the PGA Tour Champions held at the course from 1989 through 2001. More recently on the senior circuit, Cochise hosted the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in 2012 and from 2014 through 2016. With a beautiful mountain backdrop, the layout demands precise shot placement into the small greens, many of which slope significantly from back to front. The par-3 seventh and par-5 15th share an island green that is approached from two different angles.
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23. (18) We-Ko-Pa Golf Club: Saguaro
Public
23. (18) We-Ko-Pa Golf Club: Saguaro
Fort McDowell, AZ
4.1
231 Panelists
A mainstay on Golf Digest's 100 Greatest Public, the Saguaro course is ranked among the best public options in the state. This Coore and Crenshaw design incorporates all the typical traits of a desert course while maintaining a traditional, walkable feel—the Saguaro features wide, forgiving fairways and greens situated close to the following tees. Like Bandon Trails, Sand Hills, and Friar’s Head, three of Coore and Crenshaw’s other acclaimed projects, We-Ko-Pa traces the natural movement of the land and provides 360 degree views of four surrounding mountains: Superstition, McDowell, Mazatzal and the Four Peaks.
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24. (23) Seven Canyons
Private
24. (23) Seven Canyons
Sedona, AZ
Situated in the Coconino National Forest in Sedona, Seven Canyons is a picturesque desert layout with views of the surrounding jagged rockfaces that characterize the region. The course is not long (playing even shorter at 4,500-feet elevation) and instead prioritizes accuracy with narrow fairways and small greens. The scenic course cracked our Second 100 Greatest ranking in 2013-2014 and has consistently ranked among our Best in Arizona.
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25. (28) The Gallery Golf Club: North
4
43 Panelists
The North course at Gallery Golf Club features plenty of elevation changes and offers beautiful panoramic vistas of the surrounding Sonoran desert landscape. This John Fought/Tom Lehman design just north of Tucson plays through two valleys flanked by imposing mountains. The North course is demanding off the tee with penalizing deep-faced bunkers lining most fairways.
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26. (25) Golf Club At Dove Mountain: Saguaro/Tortolita
3.9
104 Panelists
Formerly home to the PGA Tour’s WGC match-play event, the Saguaro and Tortolita nines feature guarded greens and small targets. The Saguaro side lines a vast cactus forest, while the Tortolita sneaks through a secluded canyon. A natural stadium-like bowl surrounds the final green of the Tortolita, the perfect setting for matches that come down to the wire.
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27. (27) Desert Mountain Club: Outlaw Course
3.9
73 Panelists
The Nicklaus-designed Outlaw course is a links-style layout with generous fairways, deep-faced pot bunkers and rolling terrain. In classic Nicklaus fashion, it is a second-shot course where often elevated, undulating greens create difficult pin positions that require precise iron play. The course offers beautiful views of local landmarks including Pinnacle Peak, the McDowell Mountains and Four Peaks.
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28. (21) Flagstaff Ranch Golf Club
Private
28. (21) Flagstaff Ranch Golf Club
Flagstaff, AZ
4.5
33 Panelists
Playing among the stately ponderosa pines in Flagstaff, this Jerry Pate design has plenty of elevation changes and offers scenic views of the San Francisco Peaks in the distance. The pines closely guard the narrow fairways, and subtle doglegs often require proper positioning to avoid being blocked out by the lurking trees. There are numerous memorable shots at Flagstaff Ranch, including the downhill tee shot with the mountain backdrop on the par-4 opener and the downhill approach over a sea of boulders on the par-3 12th.
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29. (30) Troon North Golf Club: Monument
4.2
120 Panelists
This esteemed Tom Weiskopf design pays homage to Open Championship-style golf in the middle of the Scottsdale desert. Set in the shadows of Pinnacle Peak, Troon North weaves through giant granite boulders that often impact shot options. The track is a tough, yet aesthetically pleasing experience for any golfer.
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30. (26) The Gallery Golf Club: South
4.1
36 Panelists
Host of the PGA Tour’s WGC match-play event in 2007 and 2008, the South course at Gallery Golf Club features wider fairways than its sibling layout. Reminiscent of Pinehurst No. 2, many greens are large, slightly elevated and crowned, placing a premium on well-placed approaches. Just like its sibling course, the South offers scenic views of the surrounding mountains.
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31. (NR) Talking Rock
Private
31. (NR) Talking Rock
Prescott, AZ
4.2
25 Panelists
Desert courses are rarely walkable, mainly because of great distances between greens and tee boxes, but when Jay Morrish designed Talking Rock, a couple hours north of Scottsdale, he set out to create a walker-friendly layout. With a relatively flat design and minimal distances between holes, Talking Rock is a relatively easy walk. A housing development lines many holes on the front, but the back side is a little more secluded, with holes framed by trees and large, softly-rising bunkers.
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32. (34) Ventana Canyon: Mountain
4
54 Panelists
The short par-3 third hole, just a wedge even from the back tees, features a tiny target between rock outcroppings. But the remaining par 3s are stout, all aesthetically strong as well. The fairways are wide and fast, and the putting surfaces are pretty benign as far as Fazio greens go.
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33. (31) We-Ko-Pa Golf Club: Cholla
Public
33. (31) We-Ko-Pa Golf Club: Cholla
Fort McDowell, AZ
3.9
155 Panelists
Though our panelists rank the Cholla course as the second best at We-Ko-Pa, it's in the top-10 among public courses in golf-rich Arizona—making it a must-play. The Scott Miller design—located at the We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort, a 2022 Golf Digest Editors' Choice winner for resorts—winds through the arroyos and ridges of the Sonoran Desert. Split fairways, stacked stone riverbeds and 30-foot tall cacti in play give this hidden gem its character.
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34. (35) Blackstone Country Club
3.2
76 Panelists
Currently ranked among our Best Courses in Arizona, Blackstone is a desert-style course with many links qualities, including prominent fairway undulations, strategically placed deep bunkers and numerous blind shots to elevated greens. Both the fairways and greens play more generous than they appear as the edges are often raised, kicking balls back into play. The club’s impressive 30,000 square-foot Hacienda-style clubhouse is the perfect place to wind down after the round.
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35. (29) TPC Scottsdale: Stadium
Public
35. (29) TPC Scottsdale: Stadium
Scottsdale, AZ
3.9
232 Panelists
The famed home of the WM Phoenix Open boasts probably the most well-known stadium hole in golf: the par-3 16th. Tiger Woods' hole-in-one in 1997 put it on the map for casual fans, who now flock to Scottsdale during Super Bowl week. The layout has architectural merit, too, with its risk-and-reward-filled back nine. Tom Weiskopf, who designed the course with Jay Morrish, has overseen renovations of the course—making tweaks to please the tour player and resort guest alike.
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36. (33) Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club
4.1
91 Panelists
An annual U.S. Open qualifying site and host to several top collegiate tournaments, Ak-Chin Southern Dunes is a long and challenging sand-belt style course. The Brian Curley and Fred Couples design sits on a piece of land that was home to the Ak-Chin Indian Community until a 1912 Executive Order removed the reservation. In 2010, the community recovered its sacred base and opened the Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club for all to enjoy.
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37. (NR) Grayhawk Golf Club: Raptor
Public
37. (NR) Grayhawk Golf Club: Raptor
Scottsdale, AZ
3.8
60 Panelists
Designed by Tom Fazio, the Raptor Course is one of two 18-hole layouts at Grayhawk. The course, which hosted the PGA Tour's Frys.com Open between 2007-'09, features generous fairways and greens, and has been lauded for excellent conditioning. The Raptor Course is also the host of the NCAA Men's and Women's Division I Golf Championships from 2021 through 2023.
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38. (NR) Superstition Mountain: Lost Gold
3.9
36 Panelists
The Lost Gold course is one of two Jack Nicklaus designs at Superstition Mountain, a private club located just east of Phoenix (Nicklaus designed Lost Gold alongside his son, Jackie). Though the fairways are generous, the Lost Gold is a tougher test than the Prospector course, with smaller greens and strategically placed bunkers. The front nine has many parallel fairways separated by bunkers, while the back nine opens up more into the desert, with fantastic views of Superstition Mountain.
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39. (32) Troon North Golf Club: Pinnacle
4
117 Panelists
Like its sister course, the Pinnacle at Troon North is carved into the natural desert landscape with unfathomably large boulders lining the fairways and greens. Severe elevation changes create interesting variety among holes, as well as excellent vistas. The signature par-3 16th, referred to as the “Post Card,” features a tee shot over water to a large, undulating green.
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40. (NR) The Boulders Club: South
Public
40. (NR) The Boulders Club: South
Carefree, AZ
3.8
98 Panelists
Designed by Jay Morrish, this par-71 championship course is known for its natural beauty and intricate layout among the Sonoran Desert foothills. As players navigate boulder formations and elevation changes throughout their rounds, they are likely to spot some unique wildlife: bobcats, coyotes, and even javelina lurk among the scenic desert terrain. In June 2022, the course broke ground on a four-month bunker and greens renovation project. The greens, in addition to being expanded to their original shape and size, were resurfaced with TifEagle Bermuda.
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