Planning a golf trip to Phoenix or looking for a new golf course to play in Scottsdale? There are so many choices when it comes to deciding where you want to play in the heart of golf mecca of Arizona. Some have always dreamed of playing some of the scenic, pure desert courses that are hugely different from the traditional golf landscapes we are all used to- whether it be paying an arm and leg to play TPC Scottsdale, home of the wild Waste Management Phoenix Open; driving a full hour to the wide open spaces and beautiful views of We-Ko-Pa; while others just want to have fun and get a good price on a fun course.


The most raved about courses in the area are Troon North, We-Ko-Pa, and Quintero. These are definitely the three most popular, most scenic, and best conditioned for the Arizona style layouts. All three are tough, tight, but rewarding if you keep it in play. They also happen to be the most pricey- you will get what you pay for as far as service, facilities, and scenery go.

That being said- they are also the furthest drives from central Scottsdale!!!

  • Troon North Golf Club and We-Ko-Pa Golf Club are approximately a 35 minute drive from Old Town Scottsdale, with no traffic.
  • Quintero Golf Club is approximately 1 hour drive from Old Town Scottsdale, with no traffic.

Pick and choose wisely. If you are a 20 handicapper or above, or it’s your first time playing desert golf- pick ONE of the three. These courses tee sheets are full and if you are losing three golf balls into the desert every hole, you probably have no business playing there (or you need to move up a couple tee boxes). During November through April, caddies are also available at all three of these courses and are an extreme help when it comes to advice and speeding up pace of play.

You will also save so much driving time, not to mention if you’re on a golf trip and don’t have a designated driver, you’re not wearing out your nice sober buddy to drive you around. UBERS/LYFT/RIDESHARE are very hard to come by at these three places- I’ve seen groups wait for over an hour to get back to their hotel or rental, and even worse I’ve seen groups miss their flights to the airport waiting for a ride on their app.

Pro Tip: If you want to play one of these places, I highly recommend The Golf Van– they transport golfer groups in their large Mercedes sprinter vans and take the hassle out of figuring out so many details of a golf trip. They provide elevated transportation and will even book your tee times and help you find a place to stay!


* The general consensus among tourists and locals is that it is overpriced and underwhelming. While it is home of the WMPO every year (with the stadium arena on hole 16, insane crowds, flowing beer, etc.), its rates are always the most expensive in the valley for public play. Without the stands (that start build in October and get taken down in March), the course can appear wide open and have lackluster holes compared to Troon North, Quintero, and We-Ko-Pa. However, its always in good shape as it is a professional golf tournament host and is owned by the PGATOUR. Their Champions course next door is slightly cheaper and to many, has a more entertaining track. To some golfers, this may be your favorite course in the valley, and I still recommend checking it off your list if you haven’t!

A Mini Arizona Golf Guide

Here’s plenty more courses!

Behind these three, there are many more popular, quality golf courses. It just depends on what you’re looking for and what level of player you are, not to mention the costs. Here’s a mini chart to help you pick out what kind of golf course in the valley would be best for you.

* Check out my Course Guide for an in-depth look!*

IF YOU ARE A First timeR playing desert golf AND/OR or A higher handicapper…

Splurge and pick one of these…

Troon North (Monument Course)
We-Ko-Pa (either course)


Pick a handful…

Camelback (Padre Course)

Eagle Mountain 

Grayhawk (either course)


(Mesquite + Ironwood are the easiest, Acacia for a challenge) 

McDowell Mountain

Mountain Shadows


Wildfire (Palmer Course)

The Legacy

The Raven

TPC Scottsdale (either course)

Talking Stick (either course)

If you are an experienced desert golfer, a lower handicapper, and/or a golf architect fan…

Must Plays

Troon North (Pinnacle Course) 

We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro Course)


Gold Canyon (Dinosaur Mountain Course)

AK Chin Southern Dunes

Local Faves

Sunridge Canyon

Verrado (Victory Course)

Las Sendas

TPC Scottsdale (Champions course > Stadium course)

Sterling Grove

Boulders (North Course)

Lookout Mountain

The Raven

Grand Canyon University Course

Wildfire (Faldo Course)

The Phoenician


Whirlwind (either course)


Verrado (Victory Course)

Mountain Shadows

Camelback (Ambiente Course)

Kierland (Acacia + Ironwood combo)

Beginner friendly picks + Money Savers




Rolling Hills

Aguila (par 3 course)

Orange Tree


Mountain Shadows

Dove Valley Ranch

Arizona Grand

Wigwam (either course)

McCormick Ranch

Las Colinas 

Dobson Ranch


Best views



Troon North (back 9 of Monument)

Phoenician (back 9)

Eagle Mountain

Sunridge Canyon

Lookout Mountain


Gold Canyon

Rancho Manana

The Boulders


Desert golf is very pretty, being surrounded by mountain formations and the southwest landscape with lots of cacti. A lot of courses closer to central Phoenix and Scottsdale are fairly flat, while those on the outskirts of town tend to sit closer to the mountains and have more elevation changes. While scenic, this style of golf can be punishing as fairways are lined with desert washes and rocks.

At the toughest courses, if you lose a golf ball it pretty much won’t be found (and you don’t want to go looking for it during rattlesnake season). Basically, desert golf is a different animal- it’s target golf and forces you to really think about where you need to land the golf ball.


Arizona golf has a PEAK season. The end of January through April is when greens fees are highest and tee sheets are filled to the brim. Between the perfect, sunny, dry weather and the flock of crowds to the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Cactus League MLB spring training, bachelorette/bachelor party season, college + high school spring breaks, etc., you will pay a premium for golf and fun times.

Playing golf in October/September is tricky, as this is when most courses close and go through the process of overseed. Some people try to avoid this time of year when planning trips, as the grass is still tender and most places are cart path only. And while tee sheets are bare in the summer time, you’ll have to play in upwards of 110 degrees.

Always expect weekends, specifically Friday and Saturday, to be popular!


The high end courses charged almost $600 per head (before taxes!!) at the beginning of February when Phoenix hosted the Super Bowl this past year. Some courses that don’t get the best reviews and aren’t always in the best shape were charging $300 (supply and demand!). This is not Midwest muni land where you can get 18 holes in for $45 with a cart and a hotdog. You are paying for views, limited spots, facilities, and customer service (and water taxes!).

I recommend watching golf media group No Laying Up’s Strapped YouTube series on staying within a budget for a golf trip in Scottsdale during spring training for a glimpse into what it’s like during peak season.

The price gap between the expensive spots and the cheaper ones is pretty large, but once the summer season hits, the highest price will be around $140.

*check my Hacks tab for more info and how to save!*

While this blog is a summary of what the majority of both tourists and locals alike tend to play, I highly encourage to get out there and scope out your own favorites. With over 200+ golf courses in the Phoenix area, it’s easy to overlook a hidden gem and find a spot that best fits you.

Thanks so much for reading Arizona Golf Guide’s first post! Take a peek at www.arizonagg.com and stay tuned for more blog posts on the golf, entertainment, and inside scoop.

AGG Pro-Shop Merchandise coming soon!

Want to tell me about your favorite golf course or partner up? Email me at [email protected].

Happy Golfing,