Estancia Club

Best Golf Courses in Arizona: So Many Options, So Little Time

When it comes to golf destinations, Arizona is one of the most popular there is.

It’s one of the few places in the US where you can get perfect weather in the off-season, and with so many courses (both public and private) available, there’s no shortage of options for places to play.

But what are the best golf courses in Arizona? You might be inclined to think it’s a PGA venue like TPC Scottsdale – as that’s arguably the most visible course.

But based on all of the rankings from major publications? Not the case. 

Let’s take a look.

Best Golf Courses in Arizona 2022

These rankings are averages of the Best in State Rankings from Golf Digest, Top 100 Golf, Golf Magazine and Golfweek. Not a list of our personal favorites.

To be included there needed to be a minimum of two inclusions in one of the publications listed above, and if there was a course with only one, and I’ve played it, I added my own vote to make this list.

Also, a few of the public golf courses get a little bit of a boost because Golfweek separates its rankings into public and private.

  1. The Estancia Club
  2. Forest Highlands G.C. (Canyon)
  3. Desert Forest G.C
  4. Whisper Rock G.C. (Upper)
  5. Whisper Rock G.C. (Lower)
  6. Desert Highlands G.C.
  7. We-Ko-Pa G.C. (Saguaro)
  8. The Stone Canyon Club
  9. Scottsdale National G.C. (The Other Course)
  10. Desert Mountain Club (Chiricahua)
  11. Quintero G.C.
  12. Desert Mountain Club (Renegade)
  13. Silverleaf Club
  14. Desert Mountain Club (Geronimo)
  15. The Rim G.C.
  16. Pine Canyon Club
  17. Forest Highlands G.C.
  18. Talking Stick (O’odham)
  19. Scottsdale National G.C. (Mineshaft)
  20. Troon C.C.
  21. The G.C. at Dove Mountain (Saguaro/Tortolita 9s)
  22. The G.C. at Chaparral Pines
  23. Wickenburg Ranch G. & Social C.
  24. Verrado (Founder’s)
  25. Papago
  26. Mirabel G.C.
  27. Tucson National (Catalina)
  28. Ak-chin Southern Dunes
  29. Troon North (Monument)
  30. Apache Stronghold
  31. We-Ko-Pa G.C. (Cholla)
  32. Desert Mountain (Outlaw)
  33. TPC Scottsdale (Stadium)
  34. Ventana Canyon (Mountain)
  35. Troon North (Pinnacle)

Golf Digest Best in Arizona

  1. The Estancia Club
  2. Forest Highlands G.C. (Canyon)
  3. Whisper Rock G.C. (Upper)
  4. The Stone Canyon Club
  5. Whisper Rock G.C. (Lower)
  6. Pine Canyon Club
  7. Desert Forest G.C
  8. Desert Highlands G.C.
  9. Desert Mountain Club (Renegade)
  10. Forest Highlands G.C.
  11. Desert Mountain Club (Chiricahua)
  12. Desert Mountain Club (Geronimo)
  13. Silverleaf Club
  14. The Rim G.C.
  15. Quintero G.C.
  16. The G.C. at Chaparral Pines
  17. Mirabel G.C.
  18. We-Ko-Pa G.C. (Saguaro)
  19. Scottsdale National G.C. (Mineshaft)
  20. Troon C.C.
  21. Flagstaff Ranch G.C.
  22. Wickenburg Ranch G. & Social C.
  23. The Club at Seven Canyons
  24. Desert Mountain Club (Cochise)
  25. The G.C. at Dove Mountain (Saguaro/Tortolita 9s)
  26. The Gallery (South)
  27. Desert Mountain (Outlaw)
  28. The Gallery (North)
  29. TPC Scottsdale (Stadium)
  30. Troon North (Monument)
  31. We-Ko-Pa G.C. (Cholla)
  32. Troon North (Pinnacle)
  33. Ak-chin Southern Dunes
  34. Ventana Canyon (Mountain)
  35. Blackstone C.C.

Golf Magazine Best in Arizona

  1. Forest Highlands G.C. (Canyon)
  2. Desert Forest G.C
  3. The Estancia Club
  4. We-Ko-Pa G.C. (Saguaro)
  5. Scottsdale National G.C. (The Other Course)
  6. Desert Highlands G.C.
  7. Whisper Rock G.C. (Upper)
  8. Whisper Rock G.C. (Lower)
  9. Pine Canyon Club
  10. Talking Stick (O’ odham)
  11. Desert Mountain Club (Chiricahua)
  12. Troon C.C.
  13. The Stone Canyon Club
  14. The Rim G.C.
  15. Apache Stronghold

“Top 100 Golf Courses” Website (Arizona)

  1. Forest Highlands G.C. (Canyon)
  2. The Estancia Club
  3. Desert Highlands G.C.
  4. Whisper Rock G.C. (Upper)
  5. Whisper Rock G.C. (Lower)
  6. We-Ko-Pa G.C. (Saguaro)
  7. The Stone Canyon Club
  8. Desert Forest G.C
  9. Desert Mountain Club (Chiricahua)
  10. Silverleaf Club
  11. Desert Mountain Club (Geronimo)
  12. Desert Mountain Club (Renegade)
  13. The Rim G.C.
  14. Quintero G.C.
  15. Scottsdale National G.C. (Mineshaft)
  16. Forest Highlands G.C.
  17. Scottsdale National G.C. (The Other Course)
  18. Desert Mountain (Outlaw)
  19. The G.C. at Chaparral Pines
  20. Troon C.C.
  21. Pine Canyon Club
  22. The G.C. at Dove Mountain (Saguaro/Tortolita 9s)
  23. Talking Stick (O’ odham)
  24. Verrado (Founder’s)
  25. Ak-chin Southern Dunes
  26. Troon North (Monument)
  27. Wickenburg Ranch G. & Social C.
  28. We-Ko-Pa G.C. (Cholla)
  29. Ventana Canyon (Mountain)
  30. Mirabel G.C.
  31. The Club at Seven Canyons
  32. Troon North (Pinnacle)
  33. TPC Scottsdale (Stadium)
  34. La Paloma (Ridge/Canyon)
  35. Apache Stronghold
  36. Desert Mountain Club (Cochise)
  37. Boulder’s Resort (North)
  38. The Gallery (North)
  39. Flagstaff Ranch G.C.
  40. GrayHawk (Raptor)
  41. The Gallery (South)
  42. Laughlin Ranch
  43. Blackstone C.C.
  44. Boulder’s Resort (South)
  45. GrayHawk (Talon)
  46. Starr Pass
  47. Legacy G.C.
  48. Superstition Mountain (Prospector)
  49. Sewailo
The Estancia Club might be the best golf course in Arizona

The par 3, 6th hole at The Estancia Club.

Top 100 Arizona Golf Courses for 2022

You’d think simply due to the sheer number of golf courses, and number of people traveling to Arizona to golf that it would be filled to the brim with Top 100 courses.

The reality is actually quite a bit different.

Golf Magazine Top 100 in Arizona

On the Golf Magazine list, there are two Top 100 public courses, and none of the Top 100 in America, which includes privates.

  • #52 (Public) – We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro) 
  • #82 (Public) – Talking Stick (O’Odham North)

Golf Digest Top 100 in Arizona

On the Golf Digest side of things, we see a little more love on the high-end side of things with Estancia coming in at #72 of their 100 Greatest list.

As for the public side of things, Digest went a different route and included neither We-Ko-Pa or Talking Stick in their rankings, but did list Quintero at #88.

These Rankings Are Very Subjective

After beginning to write this post and looking at all of the best golf courses in Arizona lists, there’s one thing that a state like Arizona makes abundantly clear.

These lists are very subjective. So take it all with a grain of salt. 

In some states, the pecking order is a little more clear. For instance, when looking at the best golf courses in Oregon, you might quibble over what order the Bandon courses come in at, or which Pronghorn course falls where, in the top 10.

But it’s pretty clear what the best 20 or so courses are in the state.

In Arizona? It’s anybody’s guess. There are a few heavy hitters at the top of the list, but after you get away from those? Each publication’s rankings are all over the map.

So more than ever simply go by this rule: If a course looks interesting to you? Go play it.

The Estancia Club is one of the best golf courses in Arizona

The par 3, 11th at The Estancia Club

Dream Arizona Golf Itineraries

Arizona Golf Courses: Best of the Best

Depending on where in the State you’re going, this list may change a little bit. But if you’re looking to hit the best of the best, I’d plan to make Scottsdale your home base.

To be clear, all of these courses are notoriously difficult to get access to. With so many people coming to Arizona to golf, I’ve found the best privates are extra protective of their members, and tend to shun a lot of outside attention. So take that for what it’s worth.

  • The Estancia Club – We have The Estancia Club among our favorite courses in our top 100 list. It’s a beautiful, perfectly manicured Tom Fazio design, that has a nice variety of very fun holes.
  • Whisper Rock – With two courses you might be able to kill two birds with one stone if you can get out for 36 holes. Both are generally considered among the top 10 in the State. This is a haven for a lot of PGA Tour pros
  • Scottsdale National – The new kid on the block, that may not rank quite as high as the other two in traditional rankings, but everyone we know who has played there has raved about the experience. If you’re willing to drop big bucks on a PXG club experience – that might be your foot in the door.
  • Desert Highlands – Located on the opposite side of Pinnacle Peak from Estancia, this was the first Nicklaus course in the desert and arguably one of the better routings he’s ever done.

Best Arizona Top 100 Public Golf Courses

Just because these courses are public does not mean they’re necessarily affordable. If you’re heading to Arizona in the winter (along with every other golfer in the country), expect to pay a pretty penny for premium tee times no matter where you go.

But if you’re looking to play the best publics available, here’s where we’d go:1

  • We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro Course) – On the Northeast side of Scottsdale, this casino resort course should be easy to access and also provide some extra activities when you’re not on the course. If you’re going for Golf Magazine’s Top 100 You Can Play, this is one you’ll want to hit.
  • Talking Stick (O’Odham North) – Less than 30 minutes from We-Ko-Pa is Talking Stick Resort, where you get one of the more rare opportunities to play a public Coore Crenshaw track. With the recently renovated O’odham course making Golf Mag’s Top 100 You Can Play List at #82, this is an easy way to knock off a couple of the best publics in the country.
  • Quintero Golf Club – To finish off the trifecta of top 100 public courses, venture across town to Quintero, which is about 45 minutes from Talking Stick. This failed to make the Golf magazine top 100, but is on Golf Digest’s top public list. Digest has it as the best public in Arizona, and Golfweek has it at #2 behind We-Ko-Pa – so this is definitely one worth playing.
  • TPC Scottsdale – This one is up to you. It’s more famous than any of the above, but playing it without the Waste Management grandstands up will leave you with, a well-maintained, but generally less interesting course than any of the above. Plus you’ll be playing a steep premium for the PGA pedigree.

Best Non-Scottsdale Golf Courses: The Roadtrip

Don’t mind driving and looking to get out of Scottsdale? These are the best courses in the State that aren’t in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.

  • Forest Highlands (Flagstaff) – Next to Estancia, the most common course you’ll hear in the conversation for “best golf course in Arizona” is the flagstaff gem Forest Highlands. There’s some great golf in Flagstaff, and if access isn’t an issue for you, this one is well worth the effort.
  • The Stone Canyon Club (Tucson) – If you’re going to be in Tucson, then Stone Canyon is the place you’ll want to try and check out. 
  • Pine Canyon Club (Flagstaff) – If you’re going to be in Flagstaff, another one well worth trying to play is Pine Canyon. 

Gotta say, if there’s one thing Arizona isn’t great at? It’s creating unique names for their golf courses…

What are your favorite Arizona Golf Courses?

Drop a comment and let us know.

Other Best in State Golf Lists

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