Weekend Buddy Golf Trips

How much golf can you squeeze into one weekend? Come to Arizona and find out.

Whether you head to the Grand Canyon State’s north, central or southern region, the hardest part will be picking a handful of courses from the many worthy options. In addition to where to play golf, here are some recommendations on where to stay and some off-course activities.

Greater Phoenix

You could easily do a week, let alone a weekend, in the Valley of the Sun and still barely scratch the surface of all of the quality golf courses that call it home. So here’s a few options that provide a nice splash of variety when it comes to settings and layouts. Papago Golf Club in Phoenix is just a short drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, making it a great first-in, last-out course. Plus this popular municipal layout is home to one of the best 19th holes in the state.

Weekend Buddy Golf Trips
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, Fort McDowell.

The Short Course at Mountain Shadows in Paradise Valley is something entirely different. There you will find an incredibly fun (but still testing) 18-hole course, with nothing but par 3 holes ranging in length from 75 yards to 193 yards. There are some very funky greens and even an extra hole (17A) for putting only.

You’ll go from short to the full-sized at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club in Fountain Hills, where two highly-regarded courses (Golfweek ranks the Saguaro Course as the best public access course in the state; the Cholla Course comes in at No. 9) serve up long-distance views and memorable but fair tests of your skills.

There are two walkable Ben Crenshaw/Bill Coore-designed courses at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, but it’s the property’s towering hotel that can serve as a perfect home base for the weekend. It comes with a casino, outdoor pool, seven dining options and, if you can’t get enough golf, a Topgolf location just a good three-wood away from the front door. Venture a little further to the west and you can taste your way along the Old Town Scottsdale Ale Trail or dine at casual places like Brat Haus and Craft 64.


The home of the University of Arizona may often get overlooked by traveling golfers, but that’s their loss. Don’t make it yours, too. The golf is very good indeed in the “Old Pueblo,” and it comes in all shapes and sizes. You can get the full golf resort experience at Omni Tucson National, especially on its tree-lined Catalina Course, which hosted a PGA TOUR event for more than four decades and more recently a PGA CHAMPIONS event.

Weekend Buddy Golf Trips
Omni Tucson National, Tucson. Credit:

Soak in a cool municipal layout experience at one of five Tucson City courses, including Randolph Park, located right in the middle of the city. The North Course there has hosted PGA and LPGA events and is the longest of the city courses. Or you can roll the dice at Casino del Sol on the west side of town, where the Sewailo Course is big and bold (and home to the state’s only double green).

If you want to stay in the middle of the city, check out the Graduate Tucson, Aloft Tucson or the Tucson Marriott University, all on or next to the campus. Local food options include the legendary Sonoran Dog available at multiple El Guero Canelo’s locations, or feast at the original El Charro Café.

Northern Arizona

Cooler summer temperatures and incredible scenery are the hallmarks of this part of the state, and both make for stellar golf conditions. Like at Sedona Golf Resort, located an hour south of Flagstaff. There you will encounter the par-3 10th hole, which offers an unforgettable backdrop of the Red Rocks in the distance. Even more up-close views of those iconic formations can be found at the nearby Oakcreek Country Club, also in Sedona.

Weekend Buddy Golf Trips
Sedona Golf Resort, Sedona. Credit:

Over in Williams, 40 minutes west of Flagstaff, Elephant Rocks Golf Course tees up two completely different nines; keep your eye out for the course namesakes (made of lava) standing guard along the entrance drive.

The Hotel Monte Vista in the heart of downtown Flagstaff debuted in 1927 and has hosted numerous celebrities in the past and, reportedly, a number of ghosts in the present. Or go back in time at the Americana Motor Hotel which opened this past August. The retro vibe is strong both inside and out, with a location right on Route 66 east of the downtown area.

Not far away from either is the Flagstaff Brewery Trail. Find your way by using a digital passport and map from the Flagstaff Convention & Visitors Bureau. Visit all eight breweries and you get a free pint glass a souvenir of your accomplishment.


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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.

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