10 Essential Golf Courses in Sunny Scottsdale

Photo courtesy of Eagle Mountain Golf Club
Photo courtesy of Orange Tree Golf Resort
Photo courtesy of Kierland Golf Club
Photo courtesy of We-Ko-Pa
By Patricia Escarcega, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson Local Expert

Whether you're a beginner golfer coming to enjoy a week at one of the city's luxurious golf resorts, or an advanced player seeking to hone your game on some of the best courses in the world, Scottsdale is the place for great golf.

Scottsdale and neighboring communities are home to nearly 200 golf courses, and with 330 average days of sunshine annually, it's easy to see why Scottsdale has established itself as one of the world's leading golf destinations. 

The natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert provides a magnificent backdrop to some of the most dramatic play in the country. That's what you'll find at McDowell Mountain Golf Club, built on the western slope of the rugged McDowell Mountains, offering players 7,072 yards of fair but challenging play.

For some of the best panoramic views of the Valley, head to the courses at the Eagle Mountain Golf Club, which weaves elegantly through desert ravines, peaks, and shady box canyons for a day of unforgettable play.

Play the crown jewel of Scottsdale at Troon North, two spectacular 18-hole courses that wind through the scenic foothills of Pinnacle Peak.

Of course, you'll also want to walk in the shadows of legends at TPC Scottsdale, home of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, a fan favorite that draws thousands of golf aficionados every year to this iconic Scottsdale golf course.

10. Eagle Mountain Golf Club
Photo courtesy of Eagle Mountain Golf Club

This Scott Miller-designed course is located just outside Scottsdale along the scenic McDowell Mountains in the community of Fountain Hills. The course's 6,800-yard layout weaves through shaded box canyons and mountain peaks. Players get to experience one of the most scenic corners of the rugged yet beautiful Sonoran Desert. The layout of Eagle Mountain also affords some of the most picturesque views of the Valley. The course is fair yet challenging, offering something for all skill levels, and consistently ranks as one of the best public courses in local and national publications. Check out the views from the back nine.

9. The Phoenician Golf Club
Photo courtesy of The Phoenician Golf Club

The Phoenician Golf Course is one of Scottsdale's most popular golf destinations. The Phoenician is home to three courses: the Desert Nine, Oasis Nine, and Canyon Nine. The Desert Nine is the most popular course because of its unique layout, awesome desert views, and dramatic elevation changes. The Oasis Nine is a more traditional course, featuring tree-lined fairways and serene water features. The Canyon Nine is the most lush of the three courses. Its located on the southern slope of Camelback Mountain, offering amazing views of the city and desert-landscaped terrain. Afterwards, players can enjoy a post-round bite or meal at one of the resort's award-winning restaurants.

8. Legend Trail Golf Club
Photo courtesy of Legend Trail Golf Club

Legend Trail Golf Club offers a beautifully manicured 72 course that meanders across the stunning Sonoran Desert, offering players some of the best panoramic vistas in Scottsdale, including gorgeous views of Pinnacle Peak, one of the city's best-known natural landmarks. Players of all skill levels will appreciate the diversity and challenge of this course, which offers many unique shot-making opportunities. The course is listed as one of the top 100 facilities in the country by Golf Magazine, and is frequently ranked among Arizona's best golf courses. Legend Trail also offers some of the best deals for players, especially if you can manage playing during the hot summer months.

7. The Boulders Golf Club
Photo courtesy of The Boulders

If you want to get away from it all, this is the place for you. The desert wildlife and breathtaking scenery make this one of the most relaxing resorts in the US. As for the golf, there is a good chance you will encounter the natural desert terrain, as it surrounds each of these holes and finds its way into several of these immaculate fairways. Accurate placement of your tee shots is desired if you want the best chance to hit these greens. The South Course is the main attraction here, featuring impeccable fairways that manage to stay green even at the height of summer.

6. McDowell Mountain Golf Club
Photo courtesy of McDowell Mountain Golf Club

Formerly known as the Sanctuary Golf Course, the new McDowell Mountain Golf Club is Scottsdale's latest jewel. Built on the western slope of Scottsdale's iconic McDowell Mountains, the new and improved golf course recently underwent significant architectural changes that have enhanced the play experience for golfers. The course's original architect Randy Heckenkemper oversaw the changes, which include making several of the playing corridors wider, adding waste bunker additions, adding additional teeing areas, and reshaping some of the fairways. The results are a course that now stretches to 7,072 yards and is more challenging and exciting for players, while offering awesome views of the desert.

5. Orange Tree Golf Resort
Photo courtesy of Orange Tree Golf Resort

This popular Scottsdale golf resort is located on the site of an old orange grove. The resort has been lauded in recent years for its efforts to go green, including reducing non-recyclable waste, reducing water usage, and starting an active recycling program on the property. The heart of the resort, of course, is the Parkland-style, 18-hole USGA-rated championship golf course. This beautifully maintained golf course has long been considered one of Arizona's most highly-regarded traditional golf courses, a popular favorite with local and visiting recreational players. The golf course offers access to the resort's restaurant and bar, for a post-round drink or bite.

4. Kierland Golf Club
Photo courtesy of Kierland Golf Club

The Kierland Golf Club, located at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, is the perfect place to savor the essence of championship-level golf in the desert. Located in the heart of "new" Scottsdale, Kierland Golf Club is set against the dramatic skies and picturesque mountain ranges of Arizona's beautiful Sonoran Desert, making this a must-play course for lovers of rugged outdoor play. This is one of the country's most luxurious resort destinations, and the three award-winning courses have won numerous distinctions, including being named one of the best courses in America by Golfweek, and Best Golf Shop 2011 by GolfWorld.

3. TPC at Scottsdale – Stadium

TPC Scottsdale is home to one of the largest-attended golf tournament in the world, the perennial fan favorite Waste Management Phoenix Open. TPC Scottsdale is a favorite course of some of the sport's top players and recreational golfers alike, favored for its superb blend of playability and challenge. The course is surrounded by the scenic McDowell Mountains and features two championship course: the famous Stadium Course and the iconic Champions Course. TPC Scottsdale is Arizona's only PGA Tour facility, offering recreational golfers from around the world the opportunity to experience the standards and service that are normally reserved for professional players.

2. We-Ko-Pa Golf Club
Photo courtesy of We-Ko-Pa

The We-Ko-Pa Golf Club is located on the eastern edge of Scottsdale, blessed with stunning mountain vistas in nearly every direction. The Club offers players of all skill levels access to many great amenities, including a 21,000 square foot clubhouse featuring full-service restaurant, bar and expansive patio. It's no surprise that Golfweek magazine ranks the Saguaro course #67 in America's top 100 modern courses. The two courses are also the #1 and #2 rated public access courses in Arizona. The We-Ko-Pa's combination of beauty and accessibility is incomparable and unbeatable. Play the Cholla course to get a glimpse of desert wildlife.

1. Troon North Golf Club

Known as Scottsdale's "crown jewel," Troon North Golf Club offers players an unrivalled Scottsdale desert golf experience. The two 18-hole courses wind through scenic foothills and natural ravines in the cool shadows of Pinnacle Peak. The rugged landscape of Arizona's Sonoran Desert creates an iconic golf experience that remains unmatched in the Southwest. The course is famous for its ambiance, challenging natural terrain, and visual beauty. The fairways are immaculately groomed, featuring bentgrass greens and impeccable customer service. The Monument and Pinnacle courses consistently rank as some of the best in the country, and are at the top of many golfer's must-play list.