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The 25 best courses you can play in Scottsdale

September 29, 2022

In recent years, the greater Phoenix-Scottsdale area has been among the fastest-growing metro areas in the United States. Golf has certainly kept up with the influx of people to the region, and with over 200 courses in the Scottsdale area, it’s firmly in the running for the best golf destination in the U.S.

A golf trip to The Grand Canyon State not only includes some great golf on scenic desert layouts, but Old Town Scottsdale—the city’s downtown area—boasts some bustling nightlife, perfect for unwinding after a day on the course.

As for the golf, many of Arizona’s best public tracks are located in and around Scottsdale. This collection of best courses you can play in Scottsdale includes a 100 Greatest Public member, a famed PGA Tour host and plenty of other must-plays featured on our Best in Arizona list. We also include several hidden gems that are occasionally overlooked given their proximity to the city center but are well worth the short drive. 

Scroll on to read more about the best public golf courses in Scottsdale. Click around to explore our new, searchable Places to Play hub, complete with courses reviews from our panelists.

Quintero Golf Club
Public
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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(Note: It's worth noting that Quintero is about 45 minutes from Scottsdale's airport, so while it may not fit into everyone's itinerary, it's a must-play if you've got the time. If you're able to get to Quintero, it's worth heading another 30 minutes up the road to play Wickenburg Ranch, a current member of our Best in Arizona.)

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club: Saguaro
Public
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club: Saguaro
Fort McDowell, AZ
205 Panelists
A mainstay on Golf Digest's 100 Greatest Public, the Saguaro course is ranked behind only Quintero among 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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TPC Scottsdale: Stadium
Public
TPC Scottsdale: Stadium
Scottsdale, AZ
112 Panelists
The famed home of the Waste Management 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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Troon North Golf Club: Monument
Public
Troon North Golf Club: Monument
Scottsdale, AZ
105 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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We-Ko-Pa Golf Club: Cholla
Public
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club: Cholla
Fort McDowell, AZ
130 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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Troon North Golf Club: Pinnacle
Public
Troon North Golf Club: Pinnacle
Scottsdale, AZ
107 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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Grayhawk Golf Club: Raptor
Public
Grayhawk Golf Club: Raptor
Scottsdale, AZ
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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Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club
Public
Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club
Maricopa, AZ
79 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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The Boulders Club: South
Public
The Boulders Club: South
Carefree, AZ
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, will be resurfaced with TifEagle Bermuda.
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Grayhawk Golf Club: Talon
Public
Grayhawk Golf Club: Talon
Scottsdale, AZ
Designed by two-time major champion David Graham and golf course architect Gary Panks, the Talon is one of two courses at Grayhawk. A challenging layout that plays just shy of 7,000 yards, it requires precision off the tee and into these well-guarded greens. It also boasts beautiful views of the McDowell Mountains and the Phoenix and Scottsdale skylines.
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The Boulders Club: North
Public
The Boulders Club: North
Carefree, AZ
The older of the two 18-hole courses at the Boulders, the North Course presents stunning views of Black Mountain as it weaves throughout the rugged desert landscape. Also a Jay Morrish design, this track boasts bentgrass greens and several holes that are nestled tightly within ancient rock formations.
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SunRidge Canyon Golf Club
Public
SunRidge Canyon Golf Club
Fountain Hills, AZ
Tucked in a canyon 30 minutes northeast of Phoenix Sky Harbor, Sunridge Canyon features an intriguing mix of doglegs and carries over ravines. The course is best known for its closing "Wicked 6," which consists of two par 3s, two par 4s, and two par 5s, and plays generally uphill and into the prevailing wind. The course hosted the 1997 USGA Men's State Team Championship.
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Whirlwind Golf Club: Cattail
Public
Whirlwind Golf Club: Cattail
Chandler, AZ
Just about 30 minutes south of Scottsdale, Whirlwind Golf Club at Wild Horse Pass boasts a world-class practice facility and two very good public courses. For five years, the then-Nationwide Tour hosted an event here, the Gila River Golf Classic, an ode to the heritage of the surrounding Gila River Indian Reservation. The layouts—the Cattail and the Devil's Claw—are routed over 500 acres, with half of that being native vegetation. The courses boast large greens and wide fairways for the most part, but golfers are rewarded for taking on hazards with shorter lines into the greens, which boast subtle but tumbling undulations.
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Papago Golf Club
Public
Papago Golf Club
Phoenix, AZ
Papago is one of the best values in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, offering incredible views of the nearby Camelback Mountains and downtown Phoenix. A recent $8 million investment into the course and the impressive Thunderbirds Golf Complex, where the Arizona State men's and women's golf teams train, have reengerized this municipal course that hosted the 1971 U.S. Amateur Public Links. The four-acre short game area boasts one of the most impressive collegiate practice facilities in the country with three acres of rough and fairway to mimic a variety of lies and a six-acre hitting area with 21 target greens and a number of fairway bunkers.
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The Phoenician Golf Club
Public
The Phoenician Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ
Phil Smith redesigned an existing 27-hole facility at The Phoenician into a new, ultra-playable 18-hole course that winds through the Sonoran Desert. The par-71 Phoenician can play as short as 4,594 yards or as long as more than 6,518 yards. The back nine winds through the mountainside, providing some dramatic views.
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Talking Stick Golf Club: O'Odham Course
The O'odham course (formerly the North Course) is one of two courses at Talking Stick designed by the acclaimed designed team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. The layout places a premium on accuracy, with fairways and greens strategically surrounded by brush and waste areas and features a refreshing mix of long and shorter holes.
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Wildfire Golf Club: Faldo Course
As the name suggests, the Faldo Course at Wildfire was designed by six-time major champion Sir Nick Faldo. Set on just over 6,800 yards, it plays relatively open, with ample landing areas off the tee and into greens, although there are some 140 bunkers strategically placed throughout.
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Wigwam Golf Club: Gold
Public
Wigwam Golf Club: Gold
Litchfield Park, AZ
The Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed Gold Course is the standout among three courses at the Wigwam—and it's ranked in the top 25 of public courses in the state. The Gold Course was renovated in 2015 and plays plenty long at 7,345 yards from the back tees, with narrow fairways and strategically positioned bunkers along with small greens—making it a stout tournament host.
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TPC Scottsdale: Champions
Public
TPC Scottsdale: Champions
Scottsdale, AZ
The Champions Course was built on the site of the old Desert Course and was revamped in 2007. A very walkable course when the Arizona heat is not too severe, the Champions course is more forgiving than the Stadium course but also provides some great aesthetics and shot options.
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Verrado Golf Club: Victory
Public
Verrado Golf Club: Victory
Buckeye, AZ

From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten: Every so often I come across a golf hole so compelling that it overshadows my memory of every other hole on the course. The par-5 18th at The Victory at Verrado is such a hole. It’s a dogleg right from the back tee (590 yards) over an irrigation pond (not really in play for big hitters) to a wide diagonal fairway with a rock escarpment on the left. The second shot is uphill to a green that’s tucked into a box canyon and protected front right by boulder outcroppings. It’s an unusual hole visually, the first hole you see driving up the street toward the course entrance, and it sets the tone for this very unusual course that was built partly on the site of an old Caterpillar Tractor testing grounds where operators learned to shove around chunks of rock using D-9 dozers.

 

For our architecture editor's complete view, click here.

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Camelback Golf Club: Ambiente
Public
Camelback Golf Club: Ambiente
Scottsdale, AZ
Renovated in 2013, this beautifully conditioned desert course was made more playable for different skill levels, but at 7,221 yardspresents a stout challenge for advanced players. Carve out some extra time for the first-class practice facilities, including an updated short-game area. Proximity to downtown Scottsdale makes Camelback a convenient choice for many visitors, and the JW Marriott is one of the best hotels in the Scottsdale area.
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Gold Canyon Golf Resort & Spa: Dinosaur Mountain
Just over a half hour east of Scottsdale, the Dinosaur Mountain course at Gold Canyon is a quality public track with some dramatic elevation changes. Numerous tee shots play significantly downhill and provide beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Interestingly, there are six par 3s on the par-70 layout. Occasionally overlooked due to its distance from Scottsdale, Dinosaur Mountain has all the intriguing qualities of desert golf, making it worth the drive.
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Westin Kierland Golf Club: Ironwood/Acacia/Mesquite
There are 27 holes at this Scottsdale resort that hosted the USGA’s 1997 Women’s State Team Championship. All three nines play along rolling terrain with dramatic elevation changes and picturesque views of the surrounding resort.
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Eagle Mountain Golf Club
Public
Eagle Mountain Golf Club
Fountain Hills, AZ
Unlike many desert layouts which are demanding from tee to green, Eagle Mountain is more forgiving. With few forced carries, it’s a departure from the target-style golf that characterizes many nearby courses. There are many elevated tees that provide scenic vistas of the McDowell Mountains.
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The Legacy Golf Club
Public
The Legacy Golf Club
Phoenix, AZ
Just a few miles south of the Phoenix airport, The Legacy Golf Club is a par-71 layout that features five par 3s. The course is situated on a former 7,500-acre ranch, and two original grain silos, built in 1902, remain in the 18th fairway. According to the course, the silos were at one time the tallest manmade structures in Maricopa County. The course plays over rolling terrain and features many of desert golf’s signature characteristics: sand lining the fairways, a few forced carries and scenic mountain views.
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