Places to Play: It\‘s Time to Fall in Love with 12 Great Arizona Courses

1. Estrella Mountain RanchAs Jack Nicklaus II’s inaugural Arizona course, the Estrella Mountain Ranch Golf Club offers a classic golf experience unlike any in the area. Following in his father’s legendary footsteps, this daily-fee championship course is golf in the traditional sense—challenging yet forgiving and always spectacular. Fairways roll across the natural contours of the land, while elevated tees unveil views of the Sierra Estrella Mountains. In keeping with the philosophy of Nicklaus Design, the course blends in with the environment and incorporates natural desert vegetation. The diverse terrain of this 7,102-yard course complies with Jack II’s goal of offering variety to golfers of all abilities.
2. Copper Canyon Golf ClubCopper Canyon Golf Club at Festival Ranch is an upscale daily fee, 18-hole championship golf course designed by Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley. This golf course is the centerpiece of the active adult community built by Pulte/Del Webb.
The golf course offers up to four sets of tees that range from 5,200 yards to over 6,800 yards in length.More than 11 lakes add to the unique beauty and artfully protect the integrity of their respective golf holes. Generous fairways look overly inviting to the golfer’s eye, yet are only the gateway to large, undulating greens that willbecome a trademark at Copper Canyon.
Once completing a round of golf, it is time to enjoy a meal at the Indigo Grille. This restaurant overlooks the 1st and 10th tees. Enjoy an “up-close” view of any golfer practicing their game.
3. Ocotillo Golf ResortBuilt in 1986 as an idyllic complement to desert-style golf, Ted Robinson’s design of three striking nine-hole layouts that wind through 95 acres of lakes and cascading water features is one-of-a-kind in Arizona. Fully mature trees, lush landscaping and colorful flowerbeds contribute to the comfort, beauty and challenge of this elegant oasis. Located in the upscale Ocotillo master-planned community, the quality of the golf course combined with the comfort and casual elegance of its award-winning clubhouse has made Ocotillo Golf Resort a feature attraction of Chandler.
4. Poston Butte Golf ClubLocated in Florence and nestled in the latest Anthem master-plan community, Poston Butte Golf Club at MerrillRanch, designed by Gary Panks, offers more than a quality golf experience. The course is a par 72 with five sets of tees ranging from 5,300 yards to 7,300 yards in length providing golfers of all skill levels an enjoyable experience. Fairway views provide a glimpse of the historic pyramid-shaped fire temple resurrected in the 1800’s by Charles Poston from an Apache ruin on a butte nearby. Memorable par three holes feature island greens, stacked stone walls and bunkers stretching from tee to green.
5. Talking Stick Golf ClubIn their Arizona debut, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw chose 350 acres of open land for Talking Stick Golf Club. The extraordinary 36-hole facility is located on and owned by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The name “Talking Stick” is derived from the traditional Pima calendar stick. The two uniquely divergent golf courses assure a host of memorable golf experiences, from links-style adventure through the grasslands and ingenious bunkering on the 7,133-yard North course to a traditional style of play on the treelined, 6,833-yard South course. The uninterrupted desert panorama takes in the distant mountain ranges, reflecting cherished rural seclusion within an urban environment.
6. The Westin Kierland Resort & SpaThe three nines at The Westin Kierland Resort and Spa offer a dramatic setting for golf unlike any other in the desert. Emerald green fairways are etched into golden-colored desert grasses, sweeping over constantly changing elevations to flawless Tif Eagle grass greens.More than three hundred bunkers guard the way, along with lakes, dry desert washes and strands of desert trees. Kierland Golf Club offers a state-of-the-art teaching and practice facility, complemented by a first-class pro shop.With its spacious 27-hole layout and food and beverage service, Kierland Golf Club is ideal for groups and tournaments as well as individual play. Most notably, this high-quality golf experience is conveniently located central to the exclusive Scottsdale Road resort corridor.
7. The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa Carved into the rugged foothills of Tucson’s dramatic Santa Catalina Mountains, The Westin La Paloma carefully blends the coveted Southwestern resort lifestyle with the beautiful terrain of the Sonoran Desert. Lush turfgrass fairways share the space with stoic saguaro cacti and other indigenous flora and fauna. La Paloma is an early high-desert signature masterpiece by Jack Nicklaus. His three nine hole layouts—Hill, Canyon and Ridge—leave golfers awestruck by their beauty and challenge in a formidable landscape.                                                      
8. The Phoenician The resort’s award-winning 27 holes of golf, with Tif Eagle greens and lush fairways, provide a perfect blend of challenging sport and uncommon beauty. Combining playability with aesthetic beauty, The Phoenician’s USGA championship facility is comprised of three memorable nines, each named for its surrounding landscape—Canyon, Desert and Oasis. Pristine desert views, lush tropical scenery, water features and all of the amenities that make golf a pleasure, offer a unique desert experience.
9. Troon North Monument Course Troon North Golf Club is nearing completion of a multi-step renovation project. Tom Weiskopf, original designer of the Pinnacle course and co-designer of the Monument course, is leading the two-year project, which transcends typical course renovations and will create an entirely new playing experience. Under Weiskopf’s direction, the 36-hole facility is being reconfigured by blending the two courses together and changing the sequence in which the holes are played.When the courses reopen on October 4, 2007, players will experience two new layouts with improved playability. Both courses will feature shorter distances between the front and back nines, as well as shorter distances between greens and tees for a more walkable Pinnacle course. To create a consistent overall design, new Pennlinks Creeping Bentgrass putting surfaces have been added to every green, and several bunkers have been reconfigured or removed on the Monument and Pinnacle courses.
Monument CourseThe “New”Monument course will feature a modified 17th hole that has been shortened by 20 yards and changed from a par five to a 495-yard par four. The original Monument course opened in 1990 with a vision to offer a world-class golf experience in the high desert of North Scottsdale. The Tom Weiskopf/Jay Morrish design has since received a myriad of accolades, including recognition as a Top 100 course by Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, Golfweek and Condé Nast Traveler.
10. Troon North Pinnacle Course Pinnacle Course The enhanced layout will change the “New” Pinnacle course from a par 72 to par 71. It will be transformed into a more links-style feel, with a continuous layout that doesn’t return to the clubhouse until the 18th hole. Built six years after the Monument course, the original Pinnacle course, named after a towering peak seen from miles away, has been the Monument’s closest rival. Designed solely by Tom Weiskopf, the Pinnacle has been recognized as Arizona’s #2 Daily-Fee Course by both Golf Digest and Golf Magazine. The course stretches through natural ravines and foothills that provide a visual sensation, unique to the Sonoran Desert.
11. Whirlwind Golf Club at Wild Horse PassThe Whirlwind Golf Club complex is truly a unique southwest golf experience. The courses, clubhouse and practice facilities are sensitively designed to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the Gila River Indian Community. Named for the prominent design feature of the hand-woven basketry of the Authum tribe,Whirlwind is the work of golf course architect Gary Panks.
Devil’s Claw CourseThe Devils Claw, which opened in 2000, provides five sets of tees, with the tips measuring 7,017 yards. It’s a relatively flat layout with natural desert plants surrounding the gently rolling and player-friendly fairways. However, these generous fairways give way to demanding approaches. Two water features exist on the course that requires extra attention. Devil’s Claw reflects the plant palette indigenous to the Gila River—Mesquite, Saguaro, Palo Verde, and Cottonwood trees blend with native grasses to recreate the Gila River as it was when the waters still flowed on the reservation. This course hosted the Gila Classic, a Nationwide Tour event in 2001 & 2002.
12. Whirlwind Golf Club at Wild Horse Pass Cattail CourseCattail at Whirlwind Golf Club, opened in 2002. Like its sister course, the terrain is generally flat.However, longer (7,218 from the back), narrower fairways and undulating greens add an undeniable challenge. The Cattail also features deep canyons and pristine lakes. Each hole has a name represented in English and also in the Native American translation of the Gila River Indian tribe, such as Hole #4 named Whitetail Crane “Vakuan” after the river birds that reside on its shores or Hole #6 named Lucky Shot “Shmma Kyaam,” a short par four that forces you to ask yourself “Do I feel lucky?” Cattail hosted the Nationwide Gila River Classic from 2003 through 2005.