We-Ko-Pa - East Scottsdale VIDEO HERE
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club (wekopa.com; $195-$225): The two layouts on tribal land owned by the Fort McDowell Yavapai nation just east of Scottsdale equal any in the area. 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. There are few forced carries, so a golfer who struggles getting it airborne can also enjoy. Strong players will bask in the challenge of strategic bunkers, superb risk/reward decisions and cleverly contoured greens. Add elevation changes, mountain vistas and a forest of cacti to the mix and you've got an unbeatable combination.
Best of the Rest
"Came to Scottsdale to relax, but ended up on the golf course every day thanks to Todd..! Amazing guy, and equally amazing courses." Clint - PA
Gold Canyon - East Valley
Todd's Favorite East Valley Course.
Gold Canyon (gcgr.com; $69-$199): Forty-five minutes east of Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport is Gold Canyon Golf Resort's Dinosaur Mountain course, a Ken Kavanaugh design that should be mentioned in any discussion of Scottsdale's best layouts.
Home construction in the last decade has detracted from the aesthetics, but the elevation changes, sheer variety of holes and in-your-face encounters with the Superstition Mountains make this worth the drive, no matter where you're staying in town.
Southern Dunes - Maricopa
Southern Dunes Golf Club (golfsoutherndunes.com; $49-$179): Located in Maricopa, 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 (Fred Couples consulting). Broad, fescue-framed fairways, artfully contoured bunkers and masterfully crafted undulating greens are framed by unobstructed mountain and desert vistas. Add a green fee that's less than half of some of Scottsdale's trophy courses and you have one of Arizona's best values.
Grayhawk Golf Club - Scottsdale
Grayhawk Golf Club (grayhawkgolf.com; $100-$235): This facility didn't invent the "country club for a day," theme, but it may have perfected it in the 1990s, when Phil's Grill (named for Phil Mickelson) was a beehive for tour pros. Lefty has moved back to his native San Diego, but the 'Hawk still brims with ambiance, excellent service, above-average dining options and classic rock tunes piped to the practice range via faux-rock speakers.
The Tom Fazio-designed Raptor course has hosted most of the big events, including the PGA Tour's Frys.com Open (2007-2009), but the David Graham/Gary Panks-crafted Talon course offers more drama, notably at the par-3 11th, where golfers traverse a swinging bridge to reach the back tee, and at the island-green, par-3 17th that's rimmed with colorful flowers.
The Boulders - Carefree (North of Scottsdale) VIDEO HERE
The Boulders (theboulders.com; $115-$209): Jay Morrish sculpted two superb courses from the prehistoric rocks that define this property in the charmingly named town of Carefree.
The North course is the stronger, better balanced of the two, but the South has the more spectacular holes, including the par-4 opener and the par-5 sixth, with green sites tucked into six-story high boulder complexes.
Troon North - Scottsdale VIDEO HERE - Amazing Drone Flyover
Troon North (troonnorthgolf.com; $189-$249): Still the king of the Scottsdale public "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 Monument course is the more scenic of the two, but Pinnacle is the more cohesive test and is walkable, a rarity among modern real estate-oriented desert courses. A revitalized Dynamite Grille, with a new menu and bar, is now a highly regarded post-round option in the clubhouse.