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10 Essential Golf Courses in Scottsdale for Desert Golfers



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 area at McDowell Mountain Golf Club. Built on the western slope of the rugged McDowell Mountains, the course offers 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.


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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.

Recommended for Golf Courses because: The Orange Tree Golf Resort offers a well-maintained, centrally located golf course with modern amenities like GPS-enabled golf carts.

Patricia's expert tip: Orange Tree offers training from John Jacobs' Golf Schools, an academy for private and group golf lessons.

Read more about Orange Tree Golf Resort →


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.

Recommended for Golf Courses because: Eagle Mountain Golf Club is a challenging course tucked away from the city in the tranquil desert enclave of Fountain Hills.

Patricia's expert tip: Eagle Mountain Golf Club features "Rockin' Golf Clinics at the Range," designed especially for beginning golfers.

Read more about Eagle Mountain Golf Club →


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.

Recommended for Golf Courses because: The McDowell Mountain Golf Club puts players in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, for one of the most scenic and challenging public courses in town.

Patricia's expert tip: The Golf Shop at McDowell Mountain Golf Club offers regular instructional clinics for golfers seeking to improve their game.

Read more about McDowell Mountain Golf Club →


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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 lushest of the three courses. Its located on the southern slope of Camelback Mountain, offering amazing views of the city and desert-landscaped terrain. Afterward, players can enjoy a post-round bite or meal at one of the resort's award-winning restaurants.

Recommended for Golf Courses because: The Phoenician Golf Club has three impeccable courses that offer challenging, unique layouts.

Patricia's expert tip: For the best views, play the Desert or Canyon course.

Read more about The Phoenician Golf Club →


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 to play during the hot summer months.

Recommended for Golf Courses because: Legend Trail Golf Club may be far from the city center, but it offers great panoramic views on a challenging course.

Patricia's expert tip: Stop by the Hot Stix Golf Performance Center at Legend Trail, a unique facility staffed by accomplished club-fitters.

Read more about Legend Trail Golf Club →


The Boulders Golf Club


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.

Recommended for Golf Courses because: The Boulders Golf Club is home to immaculate fairways set against a backdrop of stunning desert boulders. Not to be missed.

Patricia's expert tip: Resort guests may make tee times up to 90 days in advance.

Read more about The Boulders Golf Club →


Westin 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.

Recommended for Golf Courses because: Kierland Golf Club offers perfectly maintained fairways and air-conditioned golf carts, putting it in line with top clubs like Troon North.

Patricia's expert tip: Kierland Golf Club offers several levels of golf club instruction from PGA-certified instructors.

Read more about Westin Kierland Golf Club →




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.

Recommended for Golf Courses because: TPC Scottsdale gives serious players the chance to play through some of the most famous fairways in PGA tournament history.

Patricia's expert tip: Golf instruction is available through the TOUR Academy.

Read more about TPC at Scottsdale – Stadium →


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Fountain Hills
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club


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 a 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. We-Ko-Pa's combination of beauty and accessibility is incomparable and unbeatable. Play the Cholla course to get a glimpse of desert wildlife.

Recommended for Golf Courses because: We-Ko-Pa Golf Club is one of the best public golf courses in Scottsdale, offering great views, a full-size restaurant, and a modern clubhouse.

Patricia's expert tip: We-Ko-Pa Golf Club offers a world-class practice facility that's ideal for players looking to hone their game.

Read more about We-Ko-Pa Golf Club →


Troon North Golf Club


Known as Scottsdale's "crown jewel," Troon North Golf Club offers players an unrivaled 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 lists.

Recommended for Golf Courses because: Troon North is a must-play course for serious players, famous for its challenging yet awe-inspiring desert course.

Patricia's expert tip: For a quick, affordable alternative to the traditional golf experience, try Monument Express at Troon North.

Read more about Troon North Golf Club →


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Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega works as a writer and editor in Phoenix.

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