Though it’s a long way from the game’s links-based beginnings, golfing in the desert—where the sun always seems high and the air is dry dry dry—brings its own challenges and varied beauty to the fore. Take in the dramatic scenery at one of these desert-based courses.
Tubac Golf Resort & Spa, Tubac, Ariz.
Tubac Golf Resort & Spa (about two hours south of Phoenix) deserves your attention. Set within an historic Spanish land-grant ranch and swaddled in heritage cottonwoods, the resort exudes charm, no airs and high value.
Gallagher’s Canyon Golf & Country Club, Kelowna, B.C.
Situated in the semi-arid Okanagan Valley (home to the only desert in Canada), Canyon Golf & Country Club’s 18-hole Canyon Course will impress experienced golfers, but the resort really scores as a spot for all levels of players thanks to its additional nine-hole Pinnacle Course, its double-ended practice facility and its celebrated golf academy.
Rams Hill Golf Club, Borrego Springs, Calif.
Located in San Diego County, nestled between the foothills of the Santa Rosa Mountains and Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs is a quirky desert town with a lot to offer, including the newly revamped Rams Hill Golf Club. Designed by guru Tom Fazio, this one-time 27-hole course now runs over 18 holes and features Fazio’s signature broad curves, vertical sweeps and strategic angles.
Cascata Golf Club, Boulder City, Nev.
It’s Vegas, so of course a river flows through the palm-canopied, air-conditioned clubhouse. Outside, course designer Rees Jones has turned a heaving, rock-and-cactus-strewn mountainside beloved by bighorn sheep into 18 arenas of golf drama.
Indian Wells Golf Resort, Greater Palm Springs
While its stone and glass clubhouse is breathtaking, the 36 holes at the ultra-bold Indian Wells Golf Resort are the real hook. The Celebrity course plays out in a framework of sheltering trees, acres of flowers and lovely lakes, while the Players course is a modern throwback to mid-century design—a perfect balance between savvy and daring.
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Ariz.
If you’re travelling with non-golfers, this is the place to go. Perched in the McDowell Mountain foothills, the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale tags every base: casita accommodations, kids’ programs, tennis, spa, pools, world-class cuisine and—most importantly—a free shuttle to Troon North Golf Club and its two award-winning courses.
Golf Insider: We-Ko-Pa Golf Club’s Saguaro Course Near Mesa, Arizona
The layout of We-Ko-Pa Golf Club’s Saguaro Course in Arizona is an exercise in restraint. Here, the course's co-designer Bill Coore talks about his creative process, We-Ko-Pa's gorgeous desert landscape, plus advice on how to play it.
New and Notable Golf Courses in 2017
Looking for some new greens? These courses in Scotland, Canada and the U.S. are worthy of your bucket list. Take in the striking geography surrounding Streamstrong, challenge your skills at Castle Stuart Golf Links or take a swing by the sea at The Algonquin Golf Course.