Golf may have been born in Scotland, but it has been transformed into a way of life in Scottsdale. Residents practically live on the links year-round—some literally thanks to dozens of golf-course communities. The area’s championship greens attract professionals and amateurs alike, with one of the finest collections of courses in the world. The Sonoran Desert’s rocky terrain and arid climate may seem like an inhospitable departure from the damp, rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands, but it’s stark juxtaposition between verdant green fairways and golden desert that makes playing Scottsdale’s courses so special—not to mention a heavenly 300-plus days of sunshine. Still the lack of rainfall does pose an issue for acre after acre of thirsty lawns. Strict laws, rising costs and environmental concerns have forced golf clubs to develop innovative techniques for minimizing water usage, including using reclaimed, effluent water and sophisticated irrigation techniques.
Troon North Golf Club
Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish partnered to create a masterpiece desert golf course design at Troon North. Rolling greens meander through unspoiled terrain, seamlessly integrating natural ravines, rocky outcroppings and towering saguaro cacti. The state-of-the-art Callaway Performance Center can tune up your swing, and the swank golf club is the perfect post-18th stop to celebrate (or forget) your score.
Play like the pros—or at least play the golf course of the pros. Tee off at the Phoenix Open’s Stadium Course, also designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, or head out to the New Championships course. Even if your game’s a little off, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the McDowell Mountains. Plus, you can’t beat the thrill of sinking a putt on the 16th hole “stadium” green.
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club
For an exceptional desert golf experience, reserve a tee time at We-Ko-Pa, a stunning tour de force that stretches across the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation on the eastern edge of Scottsdale. The two 18-hole courses offer unobstructed views of the McDowell Mountains, Red Mountain, Four Peaks and Superstitions—without a house or condo in sight.
This isn’t your grandfather’s golf club. The rockin’ 36-hole desert course in North Scottsdale caters to a diverse crowd, playing tunes from the Stones and Led Zeppelin on the driving range and serving stiff drinks at the bar. Don’t be fooled, though. The Talon and the Tom Fazio-designed Raptor courses are among the best in Arizona.
The Boulders Golf Club
Magazines regularly rank the 36-hole as one of the best golf resorts in the country. A real desert course, don’t be surprised to see rabbits, coyotes, or javelina scurrying across the fairway as you tee off. The scenic South Course is a highlight of the property, with its greens nestled along the resort’s signature rock formations.