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Unveiling 11 of the best golf courses in Arizona

Unveiling 11 of the best golf courses in Arizona

Arizona truly is a golfer’s dream come true. With over 200 golf courses in existence (or a whopping 370 by some guesstimates), avid golfers will need a guide to experience some of the best golfing grounds in the state.

In this guide, we’ll explore 11 of the best golf courses in Arizona. Our choices are admittedly subjective, yet we’ve made an effort to consider all the critical elements that contribute to the greatness of a golf course. Both public and private courses make the list, so you can plan your next outing accordingly.

We’re excited to share our selection of the top golf courses in Arizona, so prepare to be drawn in by the beauty and challenge of these stunning courses.

Carefree, AZ

Cave Creek, AZ

Flagstaff, AZ

Fountain Hills

Paradise Valley, AZ

Phoenix, AZ

Scottsdale, AZ

Sedona, AZ

Tucson, AZ

Unveiling 11 of the best golf courses in Arizona

Please follow order set in above list so Desert Forest Club should be first, followed by Rancho Manana. Let’s drop numbers too as that implies quality of course.


37207 N. Mule Train Road, Carefree, AZ 85377

A timeless classic

Born in 1962 because of the vision of golf course designer, Robert “Red” Lawrence, this place set the stage for desert golf. It’s sneaky in its simplicity, making you think hard about each swing despite the lack of tricky traps or sharp turns.

Course layout. In 2013, David Zinkand, who shapes and contours golf courses to enhance its playability, gave it a facelift. He made sure players could see clearer and find new ways to tackle the game with better-placed bunkers and sleeker greens. What we have now is a gem in American golf, proving you don’t need flashy tricks when you’ve got smart design.

Why it’s tops. In addition to its impressive design and gameplay, the Desert Forest Golf Club course holds a special place in American golf history. It was the first of its kind, setting the bar for golf courses in the Southwest.

What stands out is how well it fits into the natural environment. Every round here feels like a new adventure, encouraging players to respect and blend with nature, mirroring the course’s own balance with the world around it. It’s more than just a game here; it’s a celebration of nature, design, and the sheer joy of golf.

Who it’s for. This course isn’t just for avid golfers. Its bunkers and undulating greens make it an enjoyable and fulfilling experience even for casual players – a perfect blend of smart design, respect for nature, and endless opportunities for both challenge and enjoyment.


5734 E Rancho Manana Blvd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331

A historic dude ranch turned championship golf course

Don’t be fooled by Rancho Mañana Golf Club laid-back charm that hearkens back to its days as a historic dude ranch. The championship course here means serious business, with an 18-hole, par-70 layout that was designed by Bill Johnson to build on the natural beauty of the surrounding desert terrain.

Location and playability. The course’s front nine winds through the picturesque Cave Creek Wash, ascending to higher elevations that offer stunning views of mountains such as Squaw Peak and Black Mountain, as well as of Tonto National Forest.

Course layout. Notable holes like 7 and 9 feature dramatic elevation changes with magnificent vistas. The back nine presents a new challenge with water-guarded holes in a lush setting, surrounded by expansive mountain views and diverse wildlife, including bobcats and roadrunners.

Why it’s tops. The scenic location, challenging layout, excellent maintenance, quality amenities, friendly service, and rich cultural appeal create an exceptional golfing experience for players of all levels.


2425 William Palmer, Flagstaff, AZ 86005

Where elegance meets wilderness

Exploring the Forest Highlands Canyon course, designed by the former professional golfers Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, is genuinely an adventure on an extraordinary piece of land.

Course layout. Picture this: elevation shifts that feel as natural as breathing, water in the form of streams, ponds, and marshes. The holes, each standing alone in its splendor, meander through the tall, majestic ponderosa pines found at higher elevations. Unique aspects like the elevation of 7,000 feet play a crucial role in the way the course feels and plays, making it seem shorter than its official yardage suggests.

Playability. The game begins with a curve to the left that honestly makes you pause and think, thanks to a pine near the green. Then, there’s a short but tricky dogleg right, followed by a sizable par 5 that zigzags right then left, and not to forget, a beautiful mid-range par 3. This hole is something out of a painting, with the green nestled right by a pond, complete with a flowing stream and a quaint waterfall.

The uniqueness is woven through every hole. Take the 9th hole in the canyon, for instance, or the stunning view as you hit downhill on the 17th, and the final challenge at the 18th with water crossings that test your thinking. These holes are not just parts of a course; they’re experiences, each with its character.

Why it’s tops. This course is a treasure chest of unique and memorable challenges that keeps both the skilled golfer and the beginner engaged. While those with more experience might find themselves mulling over the ways to conquer each hole, newcomers will enjoy the immersive experience (though they might want to keep a few extra balls handy). Ranked by Golf Magazine as the #1 course in Arizona and top 50 in the West, Canyon Course truly lives up to its reputation.


13100 Sunridge Dr, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268

A layout that fits perfectly with the desert terrain

SunRidge Canyon Golf Club sits between Fountain Hills and Scottsdale, Arizona, offering golfers a special desert experience. This 18-hole, par-71 course, designed by Keith Foster, stretches 6,823 yards with a slope rating of 142.

Layout and playability. The layout fits perfectly with the desert terrain. The front nine takes golfers on a downhill path, while the back nine slowly climbs, providing you a full array of elevations to contend with. The last six holes, called the “Wicked 6,” are especially devilish – in the best possible way. Uphill holes against the prevailing wind, while battling with water hazards and bunkers dotted throughout – at a reasonable enough rate of $290 per round? Yes, please!

Why its tops. Aside from everything that’s already been said, the pristine course conditions and excellent amenities make this a dream.


7101 N Tatum Blvd, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253-3309

A high-end golfing experience

Paradise Valley Country Club is home to a par-72 golf course stretching 6,802 yards. It’s designed to challenge golfers of all levels, with a slope rating of 132 to give you that slightly off-balance feeling that gets many golfers out of bed in the morning.

Originally laid out by Lawrence Hughes and later updated by Coore and Crenshaw, the course is a heady mix of classic and modern: sure to give most golfers a few head-scratching moments while pondering their next move.

Why it’s tops. With a challenging layout and a meticulously maintained course, Paradise Valley Country Club elevates the golfing experience with exceptional amenities, high-quality dining, and attentive service.


2400 Biltmore Estates, Phoenix, Arizona 85016

Premier golfing at a historic club

This premier golfing destination in Phoenix, Arizona, is all it’s cut out to be with lush landscapes, rich history, and outstanding amenities. Established in 1928, the club has maintained its status as a top choice for golf enthusiasts of all skill levels.

Location and playability. Conveniently located just minutes from downtown Phoenix, the Arizona Biltmore Golf Club provides easy access for both locals and visitors. The club features two 18-hole championship courses, the Adobe and the Links, which offer a mix of challenging holes and more forgiving fairways.

Course layout. The Adobe Course, designed by William P. Bell, showcases traditional golf course architecture with wide fairways and strategic bunkering. It emphasizes precision and strategy, making it a favorite among purists. The Links Course, a later addition, presents a contrasting style with rolling fairways and more elevation changes, designed by architect Forrest Richardson. Both courses are meticulously maintained, providing an aesthetically pleasing and challenging golfing experience.

Why it’s tops. The blend of historical charm and modern amenities, the commitment to excellence in course maintenance, combined with the breathtaking backdrop of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, makes it a top destination. Golfers can enjoy world-class service, a welcoming atmosphere, and the legacy of one of Arizona’s most storied golf clubs.


27998 N 99th Place, Scottsdale, AZ 85262

Unveiling 11 of the best golf courses in Arizona

A fine notch in Scottsdale’s golf belt

Why it’s tops. Being invited to play at The Estancia Club is an opportunity n for the discerning golfer to witness Arizona’s splendor at its most intimate, a spectacle of contrast and harmony between the lush fairways and the untamed desert beyond. This isn’t just one of the best golf courses in Scottsdale, AZ; it’s a masterpiece anywhere in the world.

Course layout. Consistently ranked as one of the best golf courses in Arizona – currently #1 among Golf Digest’s top-ranked golf courses in Arizona – The Estancia Club’s course layout is a marvel of design, with the initial holes hugging the base of an impressive granite landmark before ascending to the elevated back nine. This shift not only introduces an engaging variety of levels but also offers golfers breathtaking views as they complete their round.

Playability. When it comes to the par three holes, Estancia truly shines. Each demands precise tee shots to avoid tricky situations, especially notable at the 3rd, 7th, and 16th holes, which are hugged by the natural desert flora. And though the stunning homes around the course can sometimes be visible as you take your shots, they’re placed so thoughtfully that they never intrude on your game.

Estancia’s back 9 is also quite special. For instance, the 11th hole is a standout with its par 3, stretching just 135 yards, but it’s the setting that steals the show. Imagine aiming for a green neatly tucked away inside a curve of towering rocks that circle it almost fully. It feels like your own private arena. Honestly, every hole in this half of the course shines in its own way. The flow from one hole to the next is so smooth,


17020 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

Where legends are made

Designed with a deliberate blend of challenge and charm by former professional golfers Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, the Stadium Course has long been one of the best golf courses in Scottsdale, AZ. It definitely requires skillful navigation through its water obstacles and slim fairways – yet it’s not just about the challenge.

Course layout. The layout invites players and watchers alike to immerse themselves in the game, making every visit memorable. This course is more than a test of golfing ability; it’s an invitation to join in, engage, and cherish the moment.

Indeed, with a length of 7,261 yards, a slope rating of 142, and a green fee of $455, the course offers a level playing field for both seasoned players and those with higher handicaps, ensuring everyone has a fair shot at glory without overly punishing the occasional stray shot.

Playability. Among its many jewels, the par-3 16th hole shines the brightest, having won over hearts since Tiger Woods’s awe-inspiring hole-in-one back in 1997. This event, along with the course’s thoughtful architecture that encourages daring plays, has cemented the Stadium Course as a must-visit during the WM Phoenix Open. especially when the buzz of the Super Bowl fills the air.

Why it’s still tops. Over the years, Weiskopf has played a pivotal role in enhancing the course, ensuring it remains a favorite both for those playing in the tournament and visitors seeking a slice of golfing excellence.


32002 N Old Bridge Road. Scottsdale, AZ 85266

Unveiling 11 of the best golf courses in Arizona

The epitome of private prestige

At Whisper Rock Golf Club, golf enthusiasts are greeted with not one, but two courses.

Upper Course layout. The Upper Course, designed by Tom Fazio, is beloved for its layout, demanding precision and smart play, especially from the more experienced golfer looking to test their skills from the back tees. Fazio thoughtfully made the fairways broader and the greens larger compared to the Lower Course, making it more forgiving and enjoyable for players of any skill level. It’s a place where the beauty of golf and the beauty of the desert meet.

The Upper Course carefully integrates the desert’s unique features, like the dry washes and striking granite boulders, into its design, creating a picturesque yet playable landscape. Its layout is not overly long but can be a challenge when the wind picks up, adding an unpredictable element to the game.

Lower Course layout. At the Lower Course, Phil Mickelson, together with Gary Stephenson, aimed to shake things up a bit In his first leap into the world of golf course design. He envisioned a course that steered clear of the usual desert fairways typical you’d find around Scottsdale. Instead, Phil opted for fairways that dipped and danced with the landscape, introducing a touch of elevation to the game. He decided against the traditional raised tee boxes, allowing players to step up and swing without a height difference.

The greens, inspired by the classic Pinehurst courses in North Carolina, stretch out long and narrow, surrounded by areas perfect for chipping. Unlike the deeper traps you might expect, the bunkers here are on the shallow side. And for those who love to drive the ball far, there’s no need to worry about narrowing fairways – they’re kept wide open, giving everyone a fair shot.


5690 Bell Rock Blvd, Sedona, AZ 86351

A classic golf course vibe but with stunning scenery

Oakcreek Country Club‘s par-72 championship course was designed by the famous Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Robert Trent Jones Jr. Set amidst the striking red rocks of Sedona, the 18-hole course offers a demanding enough game for most players without infringing on the awe-inspiring vistas.

Course design. The golf course captures that classic Midwestern American vibe perfectly. As you make your way through the tree-lined fairways, you’ll spot the fairway bunkers cleverly placed to keep you from getting too comfortable.

The greens, a bit elevated and guarded by big bunkers, add a fun layer of challenge. Spanning 145 acres, it features three beautiful lakes that come into play on the front nine at holes 4, 6, and 7, as well as on the back nine at holes 10 and 18.

Playability. Even though it’s got its tough spots, the course is pretty forgiving, giving you room to make mistakes and still bounce back.

Why it’s tops. Excellent amenities, friendly service, and the serene, natural environment enhance the overall golfing experience.


14320 Hohokam Village Pl, Oro Valley (Tucson Metropolitan Area), AZ 85755

A unique and demanding golfing adventure

The Stone Canyon Club in the Tucson metropolitan area graces the slopes of the Tortolita Mountains. Their private course, designed by Jay Morrish, opened its greens to golfers in 2000. Many consider it his standout piece as an independent designer. The course winds through rugged mountain terrain, offering a unique and demanding golfing adventure. Spanning 7,307 yards, it boasts a slope rating of 140.

Course design and playability. Faced with the challenge of Arizona’s strict 90-acre grass limit, Morrish embraced it head-on. Players encounter forced carries over barrancas from multiple tees, but none head directly to the greens.

The course’s natural lines flow with the landscape – even the bunkers look as if they’ve always been there. With the Catalina Mountains and the Saguaro cacti as a backdrop, it’s a postcard you get to play on.

Why it’s tops. The stretch from the 5th to the 7th holes, along with the last three holes, shows Stone Canyon’s design at its best. Each hole offers a thoughtful, strategic challenge and takes full advantage of the stunning landscape, making it a golfing experience you’ll miss right after you sink that final putt.


Discovering the best golf courses in Arizona is, in many ways, unearthing the state’s most celebrated jewels. From architectural wonders that blend seamlessly with the rugged desert to venues that promise a social calendar as vibrant as the greens, each course paints a unique picture of luxury, challenge, and communion with nature. And at the center of it all is Julie Pelle, your guiding hand to finding not just a house, but a home among some of the finest golf courses in Arizona.

Julie Pelle is more than just a Realtor; she’s a friend in the business, with over two decades dedicated to bringing dreams to life in Arizona’s high-end real estate market. Her approach? Personalized, always. Because to Julie, you’re family. And with referrals driving nearly all of her business, it’s clear that her dedication doesn’t just satisfy, it delights.

Ready to find out more? Reach out to Julie today by phone (480.323.6763) or get in touch with her here.

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