Golfing The Grand Canyon state involves lots of cactus, sun, fun, a little dry heat and the occassional haboob. Home to more than 300 golf courses, Arizona, and the Phoenix-Scottsdale area in particular, has developed into one of the world's top golf destinations.
1. Troon North Golf ClubThis course is a "must-plays" thanks to a pair of courses that dish out cacti, arroyos, rock outcroppings and stunning vistas of Pinnacle Peak and the surrounding mountains. The crown jewel of golf clubs in the Valley, the club features two courses: the Pinnacle and Monument. The Monument Course, designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Moorish, is an ode to British Open golf with its bump-and-run shots and hole names: No. 9 is affectionately called Hell's Bunker. Troon North's Pinnacle Course is known for its greens; they're elevated, tiered significantly, sloped from back to front, and protected by long, deep bunkers.
2. TPC Scottsdale's Stadium CourseHome to the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the best-attended (and rowdiest) stop on the PGA Tour, the TPC Scottsdale Stadium course is nobody's idea of a beauty queen, but what it lacks in looks, it makes up for in thrills. No hole in the Valley is more intimidating than the infamous par-3 16th.
3. Talking Stick Golf ClubChallenging greens and a relatively flat course with wide fairways are the hallmarks of this club. Though their flat fairways provide less drama than many Valley courses, you won't find a more artfully crafted set of bunkers in town than at Talking Stick.
4. Ventana CanyonAt the highest point on this Tom Fazio-designed golf course sits Ventana Canyon's signature third hole. One of the most photographed holes west of the Mississippi, this short par three is tucked into the rugged rocks of the Santa Catalina mountains and plays across a canyon of cacti. The tee offers a breathtaking panorama that stretches across the Sonoran desert into Mexico. Bring your camera, you'll want to remember this!
Cost: $79 - $119
5. Sunridge Canyon Golf ClubDesigned by Keith Foster in 1995, this 6,823-yard par 71 course is a shot-maker's delight. Golfers can't just grip it and rip it from the tees. Washes intersect nine fairways, forcing players to think about their club selection. Sunridge features perhaps the best closing stretch of holes in the Valley.
Cost: $65 - $150
6. Longbow Golf ClubLongbow Golf Club was honored as one of the "Top 100 Resort Courses in the Country" and ranked as "One of The Top 20 Best Courses You Can Play In Arizona", by Golfweek Magazine.
Cost: $45 - $148
7. Sewailo Golf ClubSewailo, meaning the land where flowers grow in the Pascua Yaqui language, blends the native landscape with picturesque lakes and streams. This challenging course measures 7,283 yards from the championship tee. Designed by Native American, Notah Begay, a Navajo and Pueblo, who wanted to work within the land and honor its natural gifts and wonders when it came to designing a golf course.
Cost: $47 - $108
8. We-Ko-Pa Golf ClubWe-Ko-Pa may be the most peaceful first-class experience in the Valley. There are no houses on the course or traffic to distract golfers. The Cholla course, a Scott Miller design, has incomparable scenery and holes that zigzag artfully through canyons, over ridges and down mountain slopes. The Saguaro course, a 2006 Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw design, is wide enough that a spray hitter will still find his tee shot.
9. Camelback Golf ClubDesigned by notable golf architects Jason Straka and Arthur Hills, the club presents two distinct challenges for golfers: the Padre course and the Ambiente course. The Padre Golf Course in Scottsdale features towering trees, subtle landforms and impressive bunkering to sharpen your game. Ambiente presents a distinct challenge where accuracy and a good strategy command the day, as every hole will force even the best players to focus on each and every shot.
Cost: $99 - $219
10. Southern Dunes Golf ClubJust 25 minutes south of Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport, Southern Dunes is a big, bold, 7,300-yard layout and possibly the very best work that Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley have done. Ak-Chin Southern Dunes is an Australian links layout that features 129 sand traps and high grasses bordering nearly every fairway. It also can play long: From the tips the course has a 76.2 rating, a 141 slope and five par 4s of at least 463 yards.
11. Verrado Golf ClubStretching to more than 7,000 yards, and offering jaw dropping views and rugged natural beauty, Verrado Golf Club is an exceptional West Phoenix Valley golf experience that can accommodate golfers of all levels.
Cost: $75 - $129
12. Raven Golf ClubThe design team of Gary Panks and former PGA Tour Pro David Graham took cotton and alfalfa fields and turned them into Midwest feel with pine trees lining every hole. The Raven is located in the middle of Phoenix, but to get on the course is to feel like you're somewhere in the parklands.
Cost: $49 - $85
13. Laughlin Ranch Golf CourseNestled at the foot of the majestic Black Mountains, just above the Colorado River, Laughlin Ranch offers the best in desert golf.
Cost: $65 - $99
14. Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social ClubRecently named by Golf Digest as a Top 10 Best New Course in North America, the Bill Brownlee and Wendell Pickett-designed course features a variety of holes, elevated tees and natural beauty. Nothing about this golf course, which has five par 3s and five par 5s, is boring.
Cost: Private, with limited outside bookings
15. Westin Kierland Resort and SpaThere's nothing about the Westin Kierland that isn't fun. On one nine, tee shots even funnel toward the middle of generous fairways, so it's difficult to get in trouble off the tee. But really, all three nines at this wonderful resort are player friendly, in great shape and easy to navigate.
Cost: $55 - $150