Below, you’ll find a list of courses near Cave Creek, AZ.
There are 49 courses within a 15-mile radius of Cave Creek,
23 of which are public courses and 26 are private courses.
There are 44 18-hole courses and 4 nine-hole layouts.
The above has been curated through Golf Digest’s Places to Play course database,
where we have collected star ratings and reviews from our 1,900 course-ranking panelists.
Join our community by signing up for Golf Digest+ and rate the courses you’ve visited recently.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten:
When I first visited Tatum Ranch Golf Club in 1986, the Bob Cupp design was still called Continental Foothills Golf Club. Located in the flat desert portion of Cave Creek, Ariz., north of Scottsdale, it was intended to be a private club with membership tied to a planned residential development surrounding the 18. The course wouldn't open for another 10 months. In September 1987 it was unveiled with a new name, Tatum Ranch, and a new role as an upscale daily-fee. By the time I got back to play it in 1988, some reviews were already in.
One critic had written, "It offers a relatively subdued vision of golf in the desert," which is faint praise. But my friend Tom Doak, in his original Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, pulled no punches. On his scale of 1 to 10, he gave Tatum Ranch a 3, writing, "What happens when you build a low-profile golf course on flat desert scrub? In the Bob Cupp style, you wind up with Tatum Ranch, a flat, boring layout with low-profile but still artificial-looking green sites [especially the two stupid double greens] and nary an interesting golf shot."
I liked the course a bit more than Tom, probably because I played the course, and I suspect, Tom merely toured it in a golf cart. (He was breezing around a lot of courses in those days, compiling his Confidential Guide.) Courses can often look a lot blander from the seat of a cart.
What I liked was that it was a core layout, with no street crossings or homesites down both sides of any fairway. Granted, it was not an exciting piece of topography. All the good stuff is due east, at Desert Highlands or northeast at what was becoming the magnificent Desert Mountain complex. Cupp was given a bland basin in which to create a course, and I thought he did a decent job on unpromising land.
Yes, the shaping of greens and bunkers are very low profile at Tatum Ranch, but that was a deliberate choice on Cupp's part. As the first design associate for Jack Nicklaus, he had done plenty of exaggerated mounds—conehead mounds, I called them—at places like Grand Cypress and Loxahatchee in Florida and La Paloma in Tucson. When Bob went on his own, one of his first solo projects was TPC at Starpass (now Starr Pass Country Club) in Tucson, where greens had to be framed by massive shoulders of turf in order to support expected spectators. When it came to design Tatum Ranch, Bob wanted to go in a new direction. So his supporting mounds are far smaller and gentler, in dimensions that my friend, golf architect Rich Mandell, has always termed "the human scale." Knobs less than six feet high, bunkers less than four feet deep.
Unlike Doak, I found several interesting shots at Tatum Ranch. The dogleg par-4 seventh, wrapped around an irrigation pond, is a darned intimidating tee shot (and these days, I suspect big hitters aim directly over the water to reach the green.) The par-3 11th, over a dry desert wash to a diagonal green, is an exceptionally good hole. Okay, the ditch dividing the 13th fairway into left-and-right sections didn't work for me, as the left fairway seemed far too narrow for any sensible golfer to aim at. But the only true negative I found at Tatum was that the fairways seemed hemmed in by Palo Verde bushes (what pass for trees in Arizona).
I returned to Tatum Ranch a few years back, this time walking the course without clubs. It's a private club now (and has been since 2001), but Cupp's design is remarkably well-preserved. I was pleased to see the desert areas between holes now seemed cleaned out, and thus are more visual and playable. The perimeter of the course is now lined with well-established homes, most with swimming pools, but nothing is uncomfortably close.
As for those "stupid double greens" that bugged Doak, the long skinny one serving the second and fifth holes and the squatter one serving 16 and 18? The club apparently got rid of those years ago.