Sports & Leisure

10 Things You Might Not Know About Golf in Arizona

From world-class courses to desert gems, Arizona offers golf enthusiasts an unparalleled blend of natural beauty and challenging play.


The Arizona Golf Association (AGA) celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2023. With approximately 90,000 members, the AGA has the eighth most total members and the fifth most female members of any golf association in the country.


One of the country’s oldest public golf clubs was founded in Phoenix in 1946. That’s when a group of African-American men finished their round of golf at Encanto Golf Course and formed the Desert Mashies Golf Club. More than seven decades later, the group has over 100 members who play in monthly events, run one of the country’s largest junior golf tournaments, and enjoy a tight-knit bond among generations of members.

10 Things You Might Not Know About Golf in Arizona
Sewailo Golf Club


You can find Arizona’s only double green (public or resort course category) at Sewailo Golf Club at Casino Del Sol in Tucson. The massive 29,000-square foot surface, inspired by similar double greens found at the Old Course in St Andrews, Scotland, connects the first and eighth holes at Sewailo. Make sure you aim at the correct flagstick for the hole you are playing on your approach!


You might assume the famously chaotic par-3 16th is the hardest hole of them all at TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course when the WM Phoenix Open rolls into town each year. Nope. Last year the toughest was actually the par-4 11th, followed by the par-4 14th. The 16th? It was merely the 10th hardest.

10 Things You Might Not Know About Golf in Arizona
Saguaro Course at We-Ko-Pa. Credit: Lonna Tucker


Bill Coore is a North Carolina native, but he’s lived in Scottsdale for many years. He and his partner, Ben Crenshaw, are highly-regarded for their golf course designs around the world. Here in Arizona the public can play two of those: the Saguaro Course at We-Ko-Pa and the O’odham Course (formerly North Course) at Talking Stick Golf Club.


The altitude in Williams, Arizona, 33 miles west of Flagstaff, will help your ball fly a little farther at Elephant Rocks Golf Course. But when you enter the facility, you might think the thin air is messing with your vision. It’s not. The course namesakes, located right at the main entrance, are ancient lava rocks that, at certain angles during certain times of the day, could be mistaken for elephants.


The fourth hole on the Rancho Course at Tubac Golf Resort & Spa, located 45 minutes south of Tucson, is more than just a long par 5. It’s where a famous scene from the 1996 golf-themed movie “Tin Cup” was filmed. You could lay up on your second shot like Don Johnson’s character or you could pull a Roy McAvoy (played by Kevin Costner) move and go for it. Look for a plaque in the fairway noting the spot.


Why would a golf course in Arizona have a green named after a town 5,550 miles away in France? Head to the 18-hole, par-3 Short Course at Mountain Shadows Resort in Scottsdale to see why. You’ll see the answer on the fourth hole, where the green is bisected by a deep swale. This architectural feature, implemented by course designer and Arizona native Forrest Richardson, was inspired by a similar green found on a course in the town of Biarritz, located on the southwest coast of France.


What school has won the most NCAA Division 1 Women’s Golf Championships? That would be Arizona State, whose home course is Papago Golf Course, a municipal facility right in the heart of Phoenix. The Sun Devils won their first title in 1990 and their most recent one in 2017.


Deep inside the Phoenix headquarters of golf equipment company PING is a vault containing more than 3,000 gold-plated putters. Each represents a win by professional golfers who used a PING putter during their victory. The replica putters date back to 1962 and include wins on the PGA, LPGA, and PGA CHAMPIONS tours. The best year? 1988, when PING putters were used to win all four majors in men's professional golf.

Must Do

Arizona's Golf Tourneys to Watch in 2023

The top golfers in the world visit Arizona annually to compete for titles, prize money, and prestige, and 2023 will be no different.


Arizona Golf: Where Beauty is Par for the Course

Take in the picturesque surroundings of these Arizona golf courses with unbelievable views.


The Zen of Golf

Birds chirping, a mild breeze blowing, the gentle whir of golf carts off in the distance—the natural soundtrack of golfing lends itself to being...


Life From the Tee

Arizona's golf courses are as diverse and spectacular as the state’s famed landscape. Ranging from desert target-style courses to links courses...

About the Author

Tom Mackin

Tom Mackin is a New Jersey native who moved to Scottsdale, Arizona in 2013. A former Senior Editor at GOLF Magazine in New York City, he is a contributor to PHOENIX Magazine, AZ Golf Insider, and the Waste Management Phoenix Open program, among other regional and national publications. He is also a Contributing Editor for Troon Magazine.

Recommended Partners


Tubac Golf Resort and Spa

Tubac Golf Resort & Spa, 35 minutes from Tucson, is comprised of 98 guest Hacienda style rooms including 29 Posada rooms, 17 Casitas...


The Wigwam

Make your own history at The Wigwam—Arizona's AAA Four Diamond rich cultural and iconic resort since 1929, with 440 acres of lush...


Arizona Golf Trails

Arizona Golf Trails provides luxury golf vacations to Arizona destinations. With a focus on Scottsdale, Phoenix and Tucson, we can put...


Mountain Shadows

Mountain Shadows is the new boutique resort in Paradise Valley, Arizona, adjacent to Scottsdale. Set in the shadow of iconic Camelback...


Cities & Regions

From the abundance of Saguaro cactuses and unique wildlife in the Sonoran Desert to the high country and forests of the White Mountains to the breathtaking Grand Canyon, Arizona’s regions are full of experiences that don’t disappoint.