Papago Golf Course: A Phoenix mainstay for residents and tourists alike

By My Nguyen, Contributor

Owned by the City of Phoenix, Papago Golf Course has a reputation as one of the best municipal courses in Arizona, a reputation that is backed by more than 50 reviews on

Papago Golf Course - hole 9
Watch out for the water at Papago Golf Course.
Papago Golf Course - hole 9Papago Golf Course - hole 18
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Papago Golf Course

3.5 stars out of 5 (based on 2 reviews)
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Historic, city-owned Papago Golf Course is a local favorite that sees more than 100,000 rounds a year. In 2008, Papago underwent an extensive, $5.8 million renovation by William Fuller, who formerly worked under architect Bob Cupp.

18 Holes | Public/Municipal golf course | Par: 72 | 7333 yards | ... details »

"It's hard to think of this course as a muni," writes Arizona golfer jlewis1, who has reviewed many of the state's most popular courses, including Hillcrest Golf Club and the Legend at Arrowhead.

Papago, however, is not just a hit with local golfers.

Surreygolfer, from Surrey, British Columbia, writes Papago is "one of the best municipal courses I've played and a test of your golf skills."

William Francis Bell, who designed renowned Torrey Pines in San Diego, laid out the course at Papago.

"The layout is interesting with a lot of doglegs and a fair number of elevation changes," writes jdavid17, an intermediate-level golfer from the Phoenix area. "If you get into the rough, you are likely to be hitting from a poor lie, so focus on accuracy."

Centrally located at the base of the Papago Buttes, the course is 15 minutes from downtown Phoenix and Sky Harbor Airport. Golfers can enjoy views that stretch across Camelback Mountain and South Mountain all the way to the downtown skyline. Situated within Papago Park, peace and quiet surrounds the course. An added bonus is the absence of any homes.

The layout offers a fair test, but it's still player friendly and appeals to a wide range of skill levels.

"The course was quite challenging with blind doglegs and narrow approaches on some of the holes," writes Sparkey01, a high-handicapper from Mesa, who notes the "sand traps were plentiful."

Papago plays a whopping 7,333 yards from the back of five sets of tees. The shortest set plays 5,400 yards.

"From all the way back, this would be all the course you want, but more forward tees are very forgiving," matthew823 writes. "No real forced carries or desert-style course golf here."

Gilbert, Ariz., golfer Imgreer writes that Papago is "fairly straightforward, but it can jump up and bite you on almost any shot. You need to focus from tee to hole if you want to score well."

Since opening in 1963, Papago has hosted a variety of tournaments, including the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship (1971) and Phoenix LPGA International (2009). At one time it was so popular that people would park in their cars overnight to secure tee times. The course continues to be a Phoenix-area favorite with 88 percent of reviewers on saying they would recommend the course to others.

"I'm eager to play here again," matthew823 writes.

My NguyenMy Nguyen, Contributor

My Nguyen has been writing for the Golf Channel's TravelGolf Network since 2008. She has written about hundreds of golf courses throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, as well as many courses in Europe.

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