A Pro’s Guide to Arizona Links

By: Kirk Triplett

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January 5, 2015

Three-time PGA Tour winner Kirk Triplett shares his roundup of the best places to golf across Arizona's diverse landscape.

About the author

Kirk Triplett

Kirk Triplett is three-time winner on the PGA Tour. In 2011, he won the News Sentinel Open on the Nationwide Tour at the age of 49, becoming that tour's oldest winner ever. Kirk won four tournaments on the Champions Tour as well. Kirk is a Phoenix resident who enjoys everything Arizona courses have to offer.

Golfers from across the nation, and even around the world, head to Arizona to enjoy our golf courses. Some of them may even fall in love with our one-of-a-kind courses enough to move here.

I was one of those individuals nearly 30 years ago. Living in Palm Springs at the time, I was playing in the Ping Pro Scratch tournament at Troon Country Club in Scottsdale. This was the late 80s, and Troon was in the middle of nowhere – 18 holes of untouched desert landscape. It was so unique from anywhere else I had played, and the beauty of the area eventually inspired me to make Arizona my home.

Over the years, Arizona has gained quite the reputation of being a premier golf community – and for good reason. There’s the weather, of course, where it is rare to lose a day of play to rain. I have learned to adapt to the heat in the summer months, too, so I essentially have ideal conditions year-round. Another perk – the courses in Arizona tend to move with the land, giving golfers the opportunity to enjoy scenic desert vistas at every hole.

No matter where I play around the world, some of my favorites are in Arizona. While we have no shortage of places to play, here is my guide to golf in our state:

Best Course that Showcases Arizona’s Beauty: Troon Country Club. Not only was it my first impression of Arizona golf, but it’s still my top choice for the best scenic course around. Built around the desert landscape and Pinnacle Peak in North Scottsdale, Troon is like nothing you can experience in any other destination. Native cacti and vegetation offset the lush greens with sweeping views of the Phoenix metropolitan area in the background. Not to mention, the temperatures are typically a few degrees lower than in the city. 

Best Courses for a Challenge: Phoenix Country Club. Most are surprised to learn that my recommendation for the most challenging course isn’t on the outskirts of town. Rather, it’s in the heart of the city: the Phoenix Country Club. The original course, before it was redesigned in recent years, was home to the Phoenix Open at one time. Today, this par 71-course is still a favorite for golf pros passing through town.

Best Course to Bring Out-of-Town Guests: Tournament Players Club (TPC) Scottsdale and Grayhawk Golf Club. This course is where I prefer to bring friends and family who are visiting because it’s the site of the annual Waste Management Phoenix Open. Since it’s a public course, TPC Scottsdale is open to anyone and it gives visitors a glimpse into what it’s like to play as a professional. My guests love the fact they can make a drive from the same place as a pro they saw on  television. Grayhawk Golf Club is also another favorite and has the best service in town.

 Best Course in Southern Arizona: The Omni Tucson National Golf Resort and Spa. Those who  have played at The Omni Tucson National know why it was selected by Golf Digest as one of the "75  Best Golf Resorts in North America." Two distinctly different courses at the resort weave through  northern Tucson’s hills with challenging greens, lakes and the towering Catalina Mountains in the  distance. The course has also hosted more than 30 PGA Tour events. I happen to have won the last  Tucson Open at this course as well.

 Best Course in Northern Arizona: Forest Highlands Golf Club. This is the place to choose for the  experience of playing golf  in fresh mountain air. Located in Flagstaff, Arizona, two private courses at  Forest Highlands are quiet and serene while offering something for all skill levels. For me, this short  round-trip drive and 18 holes can easily be done in one day.

Whether you’re planning a golf vacation to Arizona or are a resident who loves to visit the greens, take in the full experience of the course and surroundings. I can attest to the fact that our state has some of the finest courses in the world.

*Please note that some of the golf courses mentioned in this post are private and may not be open to the public. If you are interested in playing any of the courses featured, please contact the property directly.

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