I’ve lived in Arizona most of my life. Maybe that’s why I’m such a golf nut. To this day, I still think there’s more golf courses in the state than there are rattlesnakes.
All kidding aside, I’ve been fortunate enough to play almost every public track worth mentioning in the Grand Canyon State. I’ve thought about writing a book about all the great tracks but if I did, I wouldn’t have time to spend with all you fine folks here at Golfers Authority.
With that said, I can’t help but share what I consider to be the best public courses in the state I love so much. While these are only a few of hundreds, they’re the most mentionable in my opinion.
Cattail and Devil’s Claw at Whirlwind
I doubt that these two courses rank high up on anyone else’s list but, let me be the first to tell they damn well should.
Situated on a Native American reservation, this property is unbelievable. Truly. There’s no excuse for a bad lie or a missed putt. Period. If you don’t play well, it’s on you…
One of our writers joined me recently for a round at each course. He was blown away with both of these gems. He took my money but, I won’t tell you what happened to him at the blackjack table later that night at the property’s casino where he was staying.
Suffice it to say, there’s no better affordable golf resort in the entire valley than Wildhorse Pass. From head to toe, this place knocks it out of the park.
TPC Scottsdale Champion’s Course
You’ve seen the Waste Management Phoenix Open on television. Yeah, that’s the one with all the drunk idiots surrounding the par three 16th green. Looks like fun, right? It is. And my wife gives me a hall pass every year to do it.
Believe it or not though, the Stadium Course where the tournament is played, isn’t as good as the Champion’s course.
Built on the site of what used to be the TPC Desert Course, this track is desert golf at its finest. Expansive fairways provide adequate room off the tee but should color outside the green lines, there’s plenty of prickly nastiness waiting.
The course is always in great shape, too. And, because it isn’t as “popular” as the Stadium Course, pace of play normally isn’t an issue.
I can safely call this one the best kept secrets in the whole state.
Yes, in peak season, you can expect to fork over some cash at either of these tracks but it’s more than worth it.
For public golf, there’s no better conditioning than the Talon and Raptor Courses at Grayhawk. Last time I played the Talon Course, I had more putts than I’d like to admit publicly. That’s only because the greens are lightning fast and pure.
Aside from golf, the greater community offers world-class shopping, dining, and entertainment.
When you come to Grayhawk, you’ll want to stay for more than a day. I just hope you have fewer putts than I did.
Continental Golf Club
When you think of Arizona golf, you probably think of lush fairways surrounded by cacti. Not so fast. The northern part of the state is a paradise of mountains and high desert.
Towering Ponderosa pine trees line this spectacular layout which makes you feel like you’re at a private club.
The Bob E. Baldock design is situated at the base of Mt. Elden and affords all levels of golfers a challenging, yet relaxing experience.
Aside from great golf, Flagstaff is a college town that’s not short on culture, cuisine, or entertainment.
If you’re planning a trip to Arizona, make some time for Continental Golf Club and the town of Flagstaff. You won’t be disappointed.
Laughlin Ranch Golf Club
As I said, there’s more than enough great golf in Phoenix to keep you busy for more trips than you can count. Be that as it may, there’s no shortage of memorable golf in other parts of the state as well.
That includes Bullhead City and Laughlin Ranch Golf Club.
This Troon owned and operated facility just might be the best value in the whole state. And that doesn’t mean that you get what you pay for. In fact, the course conditions of Laughlin Ranch are continually touted as some of the best in all of Arizona.
In addition to golf, the facility boasts out-of-this world cuisine, a luxurious spa, and a location that’s close to the area’s many other attractions.
Even though it’s a little work to get to Bullhead City and Laughlin Ranch, the trip and value are more than worth it.
Verrado Golf Club Founder’s Course
At the base of the White Tank Mountains sits the Founder’s Course at Verrado Golf Club. Box canyons, desert washes, and ancient Saguaro cacti frame this challenging, but fair test.
This course is a brute from all the way back. However, five sets of tees give golfers plenty of options to make the round enjoyable.
When you make plans to play the Founder’s Course, make sure you get there plenty early to take full advantage of state-of-the-art practice facilities before your round. Once you’re done, enjoy all the amenities of the expansive club house and restaurant. The menu is exquisite and reasonably priced.
Copper Canyon Golf Club
There might not be a better 27-hole facility in all the valley than Copper Canyon Golf Club.
While the fairways are inviting off the tee, the large, undulating greens are this track’s real defense.
If working on your game is what you’re after, the practice facilities at Copper Canyon can’t be missed. Over 70 yards of practice turf and two tees mean you’ll never have to worry about finding the best turf.
Cimarron Golf Club
Designed by Greg Nash and opened in 2003, water abounds at Cimarron Golf Club. It comes into play on every hole but a few.
For that reason, course management is the name of the game. Bombers beware.
The amenities at Cimarron aren’t flashy, but they’re nicely appointed and serve their purpose.
If you’re looking for a fun round of golf in a relaxing environment, Cimarron Golf Club is a great choice.
Golf Club of Estrella
Located just a short 30-minute drive from downtown Phoenix, this Jack Nicklaus design is a must play if you’re in the Phoenix area.
The course sits in the Sonoran Desert and is surrounded by the Sierra Estrella mountains.
The Golf Club of Estrella is beautifully built into the natural topography and gives you the feeling that you’re on another planet.
Even though the greens are large, their severe undulations can make for some tough putting.
When you’re done with your round, it’s tough to beat catching the sunset on the patio of the Player’s Grill with a cold beverage in your hand.
Stone Creek Golf Club
Voted by Golf Channel as “One of the Best Kept Secrets in Arizona,” Stone Creek Golf Club is a can’t miss.
Located in the heat of Phoenix, this track is easy to get to and offers stupendous mountain views.
The links-style design is a breath of fresh air in a land surrounded by desert target courses.
The practice facilities are tremendous, and the course’s staff features some of the most reputable teachers in the area.
If you’re fan of Pete Dye designs, this course will prove memorable.
Eagle Mountain Golf Club
If sunrises and sunsets are your thing, a morning or evening round at Eagle Mountain Golf Club won’t disappoint.
Built into the ravines of the rugged McDowell Mountains, this track will test every facet of your game. Box canyons, rolling hills, and lush valleys present a wide variety of challenging shots.
The course’s up and down layout mean that the wind swirls and club selection can be difficult.
Its condition is second to none though and the facilities are to die for.
The bottom line out here is that good shots are rewarded, and bad shots are punished.
I don’t care who you talk to but, Arizona is home to more great golf than almost any other state on the West Coast. Yes, Phoenix and Scottsdale are the center of it all. However, there’s so much more to this state than cacti and hot temperatures.
I’m proud to call this state home as a longtime resident and I’m more than proud of the golf opportunities that abound from the northern to southern border.
As I said, I could write an entire book about all the great golf my state has to offer. It’s really that rich. Next time you find yourself in Arizona, shoot me a note in the comments. If I’m not at Little League or stuck at the office, I’d gladly lend a hand in sharing my firsthand knowledge about Arizona’s best tracks and hidden gems.