Any Web site or travel brochure can pick the most recognizable golf courses in Phoenix. But it takes the more discerning golfer to find courses that fly under the radar but are standouts nonetheless. Here are four under-rated, Phoenix-area courses that fit that criteria. Even without the glossy-golf-mag accolades, they're definitely worth your time and your green fee.
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If you're looking for a good time and hoping for a good score out on the golf course, head to Tempe and play either Rolling Hills Golf Course or Ken McDonald Golf Course. Both are ideal for golfers who prefer tennis shoes to soft spikes, card more double bogeys than birdies, and would never spend $200 on a round of golf. Neither will ever show up on any top-10 lists, but if you want to get some exercise and leave with some money in the wallet, they're a great bargain.
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Arizona Golf Destinations
There's no other way to say it: Scottsdale -- and in particular north Scottsdale -- is a golfing Mecca. Nearly 200 public golf courses have been built in the Valley, and it seems like 198 of them are in six-mile square radius in north Scottsdale.
In Phoenix, golfers can play fantastic golf courses and without having to shell out nearly as much money as they would to play one of north Scottsdale's finest. In fact, rates at some of Phoenix's best courses can be had for as low as $50 in the winter and $20 in the hot summer months. Top plays include Raven Golf Club, The Phoenician, the Adobe Course at the Arizona Biltmore, and the Arizona Grand.
Outside of Arizona, Prescott largely remains a mystery, its charming old-time downtown streets and its ancient Victorian homes almost as undiscovered by tourists now as Arizona was in general back before the gold rush boom of the mid 19th century. Not surprisingly, it's a few club-toting, birdie-seekers who are starting to change that. Prescott is emerging as a golf destination, a quality, lower-priced alternative to the crowded meccas of Phoenix and Scottsdale.
Make the trip out to Arizona and the Phoenix area will attract you like a magnet with its legion of golf courses and resorts, all fighting over your golfing dollar. But if you are overwhelmed by the choices the "Valley of the Sun" has to offer, head south into spacious, affordable Southern Arizona. The small towns here have a certain charm that Phoenix, Tucson and Scottsdale lack, not to mention a handful of challenging, affordable golf courses.
Northern Arizona will never be mistaken for the Valley of the Sun when it comes to golf, and therein lies the beauty. At elevations ranging from 5,000 to 7,000 feet above sea level, the northern part of the state presents golfers with a completely different set of challenges, landscapes, and (for the budget minded) price points.
Savvy Arizona golfers are quick to remind anyone who asks that the Valley of the Sun is like the Old Pueblo on steroids when it comes to fairways available for public consumption. But since the early 1990s, Tucson has made a respectable run in the realm of high-end resort and daily-fee golf. What's more, Tucson is not nearly as inundated with players as Phoenix or Scottsdale, and the Old Pueblo's lack of serious traffic issues will enable you to get from one course to another in a much more expedient fashion than in grid-locked Phoenix.