Arizona is known around the world as a golfer’s paradise. With over 400 different courses, there is no shortage of fairways upon which to enjoy an afternoon. But it’s not the sheer number of them that exist that make Arizona golf so special. It’s the astonishing variety of natural landscapes that make Arizona a uniquely beautiful state. And it’s the variety of superb golf course designs that capitalize on this beauty that make our golf scene second to none!
Best Overall Golf Course Experience in Arizona: The Golf Club at Eagle Mountain in Fountain Hills
It may not be the most widely recognized name in Arizona Golf, but if there’s just ONE golf course that represents all of the magic that the Arizona golf scene has to offer, The Golf Club at Eagle Mountain is it!
Just like the Eagle Mountain name implies, this golf course is set within Arizona’s famed desert mountains, perched high above the Phoenix valley below. Its elevation makes it feel remote, even though it is relatively close to the city. It is located within Fountain Hills, a quiet “suburb” of Metropolitan Phoenix characterized by sprawling hillside luxury homes and a quaint downtown built around the namesake Fountain – one of the tallest in the world!
The natural landscape in this part of the Valley is rugged, and Eagle Mountain embraces this feature by playing up the elevation changes with dramatic effect! This is not a course you’d be wise to walk, as you’re likely to encounter some native desert wildlife, and the topography changes are quite significant. But don’t let any of that scare you away – the designers have expertly contoured the course so that while you’re prone to distraction by the exhilarating views at nearly every turn, your golf ball is likely to find a fortunate bounce that keeps it out of the thorny desert, and funneled toward the fairway.
It’s a good thing the course is so scoreable too, because you’re going to want to make sure you save some of your star power for the 18th hole, where the pressure gets turned way up! As you approach the end of the course, slowly making your way back toward the clubhouse, you may notice an unusually festive audience peeking through a window at you while you play – that’s the guests of the adjacent Eagle Mountain Inn using the resort’s hot tub, strategically located to have a perfect view of the 18th green. Such swimwear-clad spectators make for a memorable final few strokes of the day, and double as a welcome party for your post-game visit to the 19th hole inside the building!
Spectacular views, dramatic topography, the abundance of wildlife, and the social aspect of the final hole all combine together to make The Golf Club at Eagle Mountain The Best Overall Golf Course in Arizona – one that’s definitely worth the splurge! If you’re visiting Arizona, you really don’t want to miss it. If you’re a local, take your golf-loving out of town relatives there for an unforgettable experience. Either way, Eagle Mountain golf course is a magical place that’s worthy of the name. It’s easy to see why the bald eagles and countless other desert dwellers have chosen these beautiful hills as their home.
Most Scenic Golf Course in Arizona: Rancho Manana Golf Club in Cave Creek
There are a lot of very scenic golf courses in the high desert just outside the city of Phoenix – but none can compare to Rancho Manana Golf Club. That’s because Rancho Manana provides the spectacular scenery at a spectacular value, compared to the nearby competition!
And Rancho Manana doesn’t just have a naturally beautiful location and a charming, rustic theme – it’s actually a former Dude Ranch property with true historical relevance. Like other nearby courses, Rancho Manana is surrounded by the iconic granite boulders and majestic palette of cacti that have made the Sonoran Desert landscape so famous – but it also has the natural beauty of the Cave Creek wash snaking its way throughout the course layout. It’s like a green ribbon of lush riparian vegetation has woven itself into the otherwise dry and rocky desert. And while Rancho Manana fits right in with the many other beautiful Arizona Golf Resort settings where it appears no expense has been spared – Rancho Manana is actually a municipal course. That means it’s more competitively priced than the other courses of its stature!
Best Value Golf Course in Arizona: Elephant Rocks Golf Course in Williams
You might think that because Elephant Rocks is a municipal course that you’re going to have to temper your expectations. But you’d be wrong! In fact, Elephant Rocks Golf Course will pleasantly surprise you in a couple of different ways – especially if you intend to avoid having to play golf in the extreme heat of summer.
A two-and-a-half hour drive from Phoenix, Elephant Rocks is located in Arizona’s “high country.” At 7,000’ in elevation, this makes the temperature there consistently 20+ degrees cooler than it is in the Phoenix Valley. You are likely to spot a few snow-capped mountains in the nearby San Fransisco peaks in the late Spring and early Summer months. The forest surrounding the course is made up mostly of ponderosa pines, which can reach up to 200 feet tall, casting abundant shade and imbuing the whole course in a refreshing deep green color.
But Elephant Rocks has another surprise in store for visitors, that no other Arizona High Country Golf Course can offer. Dozens of enormous lava rocks surround the entry drive to the clubhouse. Like a life-sized herd of elephants sauntering quietly through the forest, these Elephant Rocks are the course’s namesake and most unforgettable feature!
No matter what your golf budget is, value is an especially important consideration when you play golf in Arizona. With as many worthy golf courses as Arizona has to offer, you’re going to want to maximize your opportunities to play as many of them as possible. These three golf courses are some of the best that Arizona has to offer – not only as courses worthy of playing for golfers of all abilities, but as unique destinations worthy of visiting for all people who love golf!