By Greg Macafee
Everything you need to know about Scottsdale’s hottest golf courses
People from all over the country flock to Arizona for many different reasons. Some come for the weather, some come for the countless hiking trails crisscrossing the desert, and others come for the beautiful resorts and spas set amid the saguaros.
But numerous people arrive in the Grand Canyon State with plans to hit the links at many of the nationally renowned and picturesque golf courses. From the TPC Scottsdale – home to the Waste Management Phoenix Open – to Grayhawk golf course, which will soon host the NCAA Golf Championships, the Scottsdale area offers several different styles of golf courses. Here are some of the best.
Westin Kierland Golf Club
15636 N. Clubgate Drive
The Westin Kierland Golf Club opened in 1996 and sits near Greenway Parkway and 64th Street in Scottsdale. The Club is comprised of 27 holes, so golfers can mix and match nine-hole combinations. The Acacia, Ironwood and Mesquite courses are dotted with more than 300 bunkers and several scenic lakes. Dry washes shaded by the namesake native trees give the design a desert aesthetic, while funnel-shaped fairways make the courses more forgiving than some of the cactus-spiked courses farther north.
The Troon-managed golf course was designed by Scott Miller, a former disciple of Jack Nicklaus who designed Coeur d’Alene Golf Course in Idaho and We-Ko-Pa Golf Club in the Scottsdale area. Since its inception, Westin Kierland has received several significant awards that show why it’s one of the top courses in Scottsdale year after year. It was named the 2017 Arizona Course of the Year by the National Golf Course Owners Association, and one of the nine most cheerful golf courses in America by Golf Digest.
That last nod may be thanks to its fun alternatives to the traditional golf cart. Kierland recently started offering golfers a unique way to get around the courses, both on and off the cartpath. The Kierland Turf Rider – a battery-powered, Vespa-esque scooter – can reach speeds of up to 18 miles per hour. The course also offers other innovative means of golf course transport with their Golf Boards, Golf Bikes and Segways.
For those who need a little help with their swing, Kierland provides world-class instructors in Sandy and Mike LaBauve. Both Sandy and Mike are Class A members of the PGA and have been named to the Top 50 instructors list by Golf Digest.
Westin Kierland is open to the public with a daily fee, but they also offer an annual pass program called the Tartan Club. This membership program includes several benefits that range from complimentary green fees when walking to golf bag storage and complimentary practice facility access.
After a round, get in touch with golf’s Scottish roots at Kierland’s Scotch Library, which boasts more than 250 distinct whisky labels.
7605 E. Indian Bend
Located in central Scottsdale between Hayden and Scottsdale roads, the Scottsdale Silverado Golf Club is a par-70, 18-hole course that challenges golfers with its championship layout while still providing an enjoyable golf experience at an affordable price. With its undulating terrain, elevated tee boxes, and state of the art clubhouse, Silverado is a great option for golfers of all ages and skills.
This Gilmore Graves-designed course opened in 2000 and offers plenty of signature holes with breathtaking panoramic views that truly showcase the Scottsdale area landscape. From its elevated tee box, hole No. 14 (a 535-yard par 5) offers a spectacular view of Camelback Mountain to the west and Four Peaks to the east. The 18th is another signature hole at Silverado. On top of yet another elevated tee box, you see the final green, surrounded by water and four well-positioned bunkers in the foreground, while the Four Peaks and McDowell Mountain ranges loom in the background.
Silverado isn’t a private club, but they do offer an annual pass program along with other discount programs, and there are also leagues available throughout the week. Hit the 19th hole at the Silverado Grille, which Director of Golf Mike Elmore says is not only a hot spot for golfers but also for those walking and biking along Scottsdale’s greenbelt.
McDowell Mountain Golf Club
10690 E. Sheena Drive
In the spring of 2011, professional golfer Phil Mickelson and “Coach” Steve Loy acquired the operating rights of the course that was previously known as the “Sanctuary Golf Course at West World.” Now, after undergoing major renovations and reopening in October of that same year, McDowell Mountain Golf Club features a premier golfing experience for both professional golfers and beginners. The renovations, which were overseen by the original golf course architect, Randy Heckenkemper, widened the playing corridors, reshaped the fairways, and added additional teeing areas and strategic bunkers.
“We really wanted to make the golf course that was family friendly and fun to play,” Phil Mickelson states on the course’s website. “By strategically adding grass in and cleaning up the desert areas, making the corridors much bigger, we feel like we made it a much more enjoyable experience. We now feel like this is a fun experience for everyone.”
The now 7,072-yard, par 71 course sits in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains and boasts extraordinary scenery and topnotch golf course design. The front nine winds through the Scottsdale landscape, testing golfers with a mixture of tough par 3s and 4s. But the ninth hole, an uphill par 5 with a dramatic dogleg left, is the star. The final nine holes are highlighted by the 17th hole. This 201-yard par 3 challenges golfers to avoid a large water hazard on the right side that may be daunting to golfers shooting for the green.
The course also offers an annual membership for $4,500 that allows you to golf for just cart fees, plus enjoy many other benefits.
Grayhawk Golf Club
8620 E. Thompson Peak Parkway
Grayhawk Golf Club, located just north of the 101 Freeway, has long been known as one of the best golf courses in the Scottsdale area, and for plenty of reasons. It provides two beautifully constructed, jaw-dropping golf courses. The Talon course opened in November of 1994 and was designed by former U.S. Open and PGA Champion David Graham and golf course architect Gary Panks. This par 72 course covers 6,973 yards and provides breathtaking views of the McDowell Mountains and the distant skylines of Phoenix and Scottsdale. It’s one of the highest-rated daily-fee golf courses in Arizona and has played home to high-profile golf events such as the Andersen Consulting World Championship of Golf, pro-ams for the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the Hospice of the Valley Pro-Am and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Classic.
The Raptor course, which opened just one year after the Talon course, is a par 72 course designed by Tom Fazio that commands a player’s respect through a high-stakes game of risk and reward. It stretches 7,090 yards from its back tees and snakes through shaded arroyos that are filled with saguaros, palo verde, ironwood and mesquite trees. The Raptor course is no stranger to professional golf events, either. It hosted the
Frys.com Open from 2007-2009, as well as other events like the Williams World Challenge, the PGA Jr. League Championship, and the Thunderbird International Junior and Waste Management Phoenix Open Pro-Ams.
While the club is a completely public, daily fee course, they do offer two types of annual programs. The Black Tee program, the more expensive of the two, allows cardholders to play for just cart fees while their guests receive preferred rates and several other benefits. The White Tee card gives holders 70 percent off green fees for their entire foursome, plus other perks.
What’s New: In a partnership with Arizona State University, Grayhawk Golf Club was named the new home of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Golf Championship starting in 2020 and lasting until 2022. This marks the first time in NCAA golf history that the tournament will be hosted at the same site for three consecutive years. The competition will also be broadcast on the Golf Channel.
17020 N. Hayden Road
As the home of the “Greatest Show on Grass” and the largest-attended tournament in professional golf since 1987, TPC Scottsdale is undeniably one of golf’s most famous courses. It provides year-round, championship-worthy, panoramic views of Scottsdale’s natural terrain. But it wasn’t always that way.
In late 2014, the City of Scottsdale completed an extensive renovation to the Stadium course and clubhouse, led by the original and famed architect, Tom Weiskopf. The renovation to the par 71, 7,216-yard course included relocating four greens, resurfacing all the greens, reshaping and regressing all the tee complexes, relocating and reshaping all bunker complexes, replacing cart paths, and re-landscaping the desert areas.
Along with the Stadium course, the Championship course – a par 71 Randy Heckenkemper design – is recognized as one of the top courses in the area and stretches over 7,100 yards. While most courses on the PGA tour are not open to the public, TPC Scottsdale is open to the public year-round, allowing regular golfers to compare their shots to those of the pros. In addition, complimentary forecaddies are included in Stadium’s green fees between November and April, immersing guests further into the life of a professional golfer.
What’s New: Over the past year, new elements have been added to the Stadium course. There will be a brand new corporate Cove 17 on the south side of the 17th fairway, which will include 60 suites, two bar areas, plus a large patio. The course will also be adding close to 650 general admission seats to the 17th hole – and that is just the beginning of the new additions.
10320 E. Dynamite Boulevard
Troon North stands as the hallmark of the desert golf experience. It provides two 18-hole courses that sit in the shadows of Pinnacle Peak and wind through the ravines and foothills of the high Sonoran Desert. The first of the two courses, the Monument course, opened in 1990 and was built by legendary golfer Tom Weiskopf and architect Jay Morrish.
The par 72 course stretches over 7,000 yards and underwent a major renovation in 2007 that offered a completely new playing experience. The club interchanged the front nine holes of the Monument course with the front nine of Troon North’s second course, the Pinnacle course. This completely changed the sequence of how the courses are played and highlighted the balance, variety and immaculate conditions of both courses.
The Pinnacle course, which was also designed by Tom Weiskopf, opened in 1996 and is a par 71 course that stretches 7,025 yards. It has five sets of tees and is designed to follow the sharp elevation changes of the land while also providing spectacular views of the surrounding cities and mountains.
What’s New: In June of this past year, the Monument course went through a three-month course improvement project that utilized GPS coordinates gathered from Tom Weiskopf’s original designs to update the green complexes back to their original shape, size and contours.
The renovation also included resurfacing the greens. Bunker renovations will include updated drainage, new bunker liners and new Pioneer bunker sand. These renovations were the first major changes made to the course since 2007.
McCormick Ranch Golf Club
7505 E. McCormick Parkway
Opened in 1972 and designed by Desmond Muirhead, the McCormick Ranch Golf Club is home to two courses east of Scottsdale Road and south of Shea Boulevard. The Palm course has 10 water holes, and its ninth hole is the course’s signature, thanks to its unique island fairway that was named among America’s top 18 water holes by Golf Illustrated. This course has also been a premium destination on the Canadian Tour and has hosted the Scottsdale Swing.
The Pine course is characterized by its narrow fairways lined with several pine trees. It is also continually selected by the PGA to host the Regional Qualifier for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The average golfer may feel more at ease on the Pine course, which is considered more player-friendly.
The McCormick Ranch Golf Club offers four types of memberships – a seven-day, four-day, three-day and summer membership. Members pay for only cart fees on the days coinciding with their membership. All members also receive complimentary driving range access seven days a week.
What’s New: Although the McCormick Ranch Golf Club still generally looks the same since its founding, there has been a change in their front office. Brian Kirk, who was previously the Director of Operations at the club, has recently been named the General Manager.