December 6

Top 10 Golf Courses in Arizona: #1’s A Shocker

December 6, 2021


Here are my top 10 golf courses in Arizona.

According to the National Golf Foundation, Arizona is a golfer’s paradise and is home to 369 courses overall. In the U.S., the state ranks as number 15 in the number of golfing facilities. Annual precipitation is low (about 13.6 inches annually), so golfers delight in the weather as well as golf.

Below, according to the experts, are 10 of the top Arizona links.

1. The Forest Highlands Golf Club – Flagstaff, AZ

The Canyons course at Forest Highlands is a design of the former collaboration of Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish and was instrumental in establishing Flagstaff as a golf destination.

Formerly a part of major magazine top 100 rankings, the Canyon course is located at a high elevation.

Its massive pine trees are reminiscent of those seen in the Tahoe area of California. 

While the front nine is respectable, the back nine is where the course truly delivers with some outstanding holes and variations.

The course is the best in Arizona, with the 9th hole serving as the Grand Canyon State’s hallmark hole.

2. Estancia Club – Scottsdale, AZ

Estancia represents a prominent private club that is a part of the Discovery Land Company. Discovery owns a number of prestigious golf clubs in North America.

Estancia is situated on 640 acres of Arizona desert, which includes the world-famous Pinnacle Peak.

Tom Fazio’s 1995 designed course stretches for miles amidst the stones and cacti that surround the course. 

At Discovery Land courses, service is always a priority, and Estancia is no exception to the rule.

Caddies look after members and their visitors, while the maintenance team checks every blade of grass making sure the grounds are pristine and perfect.

The fairways are wide, and the layout has a diverse range of hole challenges and lengths.

3. Stone Canyon Club – Oro Valley, AZ

Stone Canyon is an amazing resort with an intriguing golf course.

There are numerous thrilling tee shots, pristine conditions, and some of Arizona’s greatest landscape and vistas.

While the unconventional layout may not appeal to everyone, Jay Morrish, who created the course in 2000, did an excellent job of offering ample playing corridors and challenges. 

Stone Canyon, located in Oro Valley approximately 20 miles north of Tucson, is one of the most aptly named courses you will ever encounter.

The course, which runs beside the Tortolita Mountains, cuts through enormous boulder-filled valleys and spans over 1,400 acres, displaying exciting cliff-side tee shots, exhilarating views, impressive saguaros, and endless lush green landscaping.

4. Desert Highlands Golf Club – Scottsdale, AZ (Created by Jack Nicklaus in 1983)

Jack Nicklaus’s initial foray into the Arizona desert is his finest.

Desert Highlands features exceptional terrain, compelling risk/reward opportunities, immaculate conditioning, and a greater degree of playability than the majority of desert courses.

Without a doubt, Desert Highlands is one of Arizona’s finest courses and a popular choice of new golfers and professionals. 

The opening tee will get your pulse pumping as you overlook the ribbon of fairway below.

Also, the forgiving fairways and lovely vistas of Pinnacle Peak will lead you back to Desert Highlands on future Arizona golfing excursions.

5. Desert Mountain (Chiricahua) – Scottsdale, AZ (Designer – Jack Nicklaus, 1999)

Chiricahua represents number five of six Jack Nicklaus-designed courses that sit inside the famous Desert Mountain complex north of Scottsdale.

Chiricahua, the highest of the Desert Mountain courses, offers a 300-foot elevation change and is defined by views of the Phoenix valley, including giant saguaros that scatter across the landscape. 

Almost every hole ascends or descends next to the diverse topography of Chiricahua, allowing for some stunning and awe-inspiring holes and challenges.

The fairways are wide, which lends to the desert course’s success, while the rolling greens offer diversity to each round. In summation, the Chiricahua course at Desert Mountain is one of the best in the Arizona desert and a must-play for a Jack Nicklaus enthusiast.

6. Desert Mountain – Geronimo – Scottsdale, AZ (Designer – Jack Niclaus, 1989)

There is a lot to be said about Geronimo, as it is considered among one of top courses in Arizona.

The $1.6 million Golf Performance Center on the site is also considered one of the world’s finest. 

Geronimo is characterized by major elevation variations, magnificent rocks, natural desert washes, and a great collection of towering saguaro cacti.

The spacious fairways allow for agreeable landing locations and the conditioning from tee to green is excellent. 

Overseeding during the winter keeps the course looking lush and green against its arid backdrop.

The final hole is the most distinctive aspect of the Geronimo course; a postcard-worthy par three over a canyon that leads to a modest two-tiered green flanked by pebbles and bunkers.

It’s a pleasant and appealing finale at the end of an Arizona golf holiday.

7. We-Ko-Pa (Cholla) – Fort McDowell, AZ (Designer Scott Miller, 2001)

We-Ko-Pa (Cholla) represents  a 36-hole public golf course located near Fort McDowell, Arizona, 30 miles northeast of Phoenix.

The facility first debuted in 2001 – the design of Scott  Miller, and was later expanded with a 2006 design by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw called Saguaro. 

Both the Cholla and Saguaro courses offer tranquility and magnificent views of the Sonoran desert, requiring players to focus only on the scenery and game.

Therefore, We-Ko-Pa (Cholla)  is a must-visit attraction in the Scottsdale region pf Arizona. (See the Saguaro review listed as number 8).

8. We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro) – Fort McDowell, Arizona (Designers – Bill Coore and Ben Crensahw, 2006)

Saguaro’s routing is geared for the walking golfer. However, the changes in elevation make walking more challenging than on the valley’s flatter courses.

Unmatched by any other course in the broader Scottsdale region, We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro) is in excellent shape. 

While some golfers might like the large quantity of half-par holes, others may not be so enthused by the layout. In any event, golfers are truly tested at the popular site.

The traditional approach used in the links’ design makes this course a favorite of younger and older golfers alike.

9. Troon Country Club – Scottsdale, AZ (Designers – Tom Weiskopf and Jay Moorish, 1986)

Troon Country Club was one of the first collaborations of Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, both who went on to construct over two dozen courses together.

Troon highlights the desert setting with natural plants, stones, and various cacti framing the holes. 

Water is featured on three of the front nine’s holes but is absent on the back nine.

The course is walkable for most golfers, despite the fact that it has varying changes in elevation.

10. Pine Canyon Club – Flagstaff, AZ (Designer – Jay Moorish, 2004)

Elevated tees and a 7,000-foot elevation blend together to create some thrilling tee shots and some fun and enjoyable holes at Pine Canyon; something for which Jay Morrish is renowned.

The diverse topography offers some memorable holes, which are supported on most days with sunny weather. 

Therefore, it is not surprising that Pine Canyon is considered the second best course in Flagstaff and number ten in Arizona.

Intriguing tee shots and heroic carries are just a sampling of what you’ll experience at Pine Canyon.

The course is artfully routed through a residential community, so nothing distracts you from the game.


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