5 Most Beautiful Southwest Golf Courses

The southwest has arguably the most beautiful and varied terrain found anywhere in America, and this is particularly true for golf courses. From beautifully sculpted Sonoran Desert courses to high altitude forested clubs, any tour of the Southwest’s best, most beautiful golf courses should fill most golfer’s bucket list. Here is a list of five golf courses well known for their beauty and play.

Quintero Golf Club

Quintero Golf Club is often referred to as the jewel of Southwest golfing – a high desert beauty – and is on many passionate golfers short list of best golfing experiences. It’s one they return to again and again. It is frequently ranked among the country’s best golf courses and a must-play for golfers in the Southwest.

Originally a private club, Quintero became a public course in 2011 but retains its private club character and amenities. It is secluded from the rest of the world in a large and pristine section of the vibrant Arizona desert. Quintero has been described by people who have played there as the “purest golf experience” in the Southwest, one that tests and schools players of every level.

A par 5 course with numerous tee box options, some of the smoothest bentgrass greens surrounded by eye-popping desert beauty, Quintero is regularly ranked among the country’s best. It is considered a must-play for scratch players and demands their best accuracy to the green.

The Quintero course is spectacularly carved out of the Sonoran Desert as it wanders the foothills of the striking Hieroglyphic Mountains. Its bentgrass greens precisely respond to your putts and the quality of the greens are consistent throughout the year. The mountainous terrain provides exciting elevation changes to challenge your game at every turn and twist of the course. Quintero is frequently described as a visually spectacular experience.

Visitors can stay in one of the luxury homes located on the grounds and enjoy every amenity one would expect from a high-level club including gourmet meals served by a private chef.

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Forest Highlands Canyon Course

Meticulously sculpted by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish in 1988, the Forest Highlands Canyon Course near Flagstaff, is a premier Arizona golfing experience annually rated as one of the very best and most beautiful. It is set at a 7,000-foot elevation above sea level amongst towering Ponderosa pine, oak and aspen trees. Each round reveals more of the course’s beauty and offers new challenges to test and expand your golfing skills. Extensive thought went into working with the environment to create a harmonious layout and as a result, playing this course feels like it was designed by nature.

This breathtakingly beautiful course is 7,001 yards from the championship tees and its par 71 game is designed to challenge professionals and enthusiasts yet be satisfying to the more social player as well.

The very best courses have a “signature hole” and at Forest Highlands Canyon Course this would be the 9th hole, known as “The Valley”, a par 4. At 466 yards, it includes a double dogleg approach to a green with water just to the right of the pin.


Estancia’s championship golf course is nestled on 640 acres of Scottsdale’s landmark Pinnacle Peak north slope. Designed by the internationally respected Tom Fazio, this course will give you a 7,314-yard golfing experience you will never forget. It wanders for miles through gorgeous boulder and cactus terrain and yet the fairways are generous, and the layout offers an amazing variety of challenges and hole lengths. The grace and aesthetics of the course, combined with breathtaking views may very well put you at the top of your game.

The course’s signature 11th hole is the 137-yard par 3. You play through a chute of boulders surrounded by rocky pinnacles and cactus and you must take accurate aim at the pin if you hope to par.

Estancia is a membership owned club with a reputation for casual golf ambiance and a wide range of social activities for members and their guests.

Desert Highlands

Desert Highlands has invested a great deal of work into establishing itself as a premier desert-living golf club and one of the most beautiful golf courses in the Southwest. It is often rated in the top 5 best Arizona clubs and is widely respected among members and their guests. From the Jack Nicklaus Signature Championship golf course and the Gary Panks designed 18-hole putting course and many other activities and amenities, Desert Highlands deserves its standing as one of the very best clubs in Arizona as well as one of the most exclusive.

The challenging course demands good targeting with large, undulating greens, large bunkers and water hazards that must be carefully negotiated on several holes. You will find yourself considering every shot as there are no easy holes and if you are used to bent grass greens you will have to recalibrate for their hybrid grass.

The course was designed by Jack Nicklaus in 1983 and even though it was his first, it is generally regarded as his best. It is a par 72, 7066-yard course that is exciting from the opening elevated tee shot, the signature first hole, a 350-yard par 4.

Stone Canyon

Boasting one of the most spectacular views of the Santa Catalina Mountains from all directions, the Stone Canyon course was designed by Jay Morrish in 2000. It is carved out of pristine desert at the base of the Tortolita Mountains and deep boulder-filled canyons with a total of over 1400 acres. Guests of members are routinely amazed at the giant saguaros and staggering rock formations and how the course integrates itself into the natural environment.

Each of the 18 holes presents its own uniquely designed challenges, but the teeing options provide a range from 5,100 to over 7,300 yards to accommodate both the professional and the beginner. There are often wide landing zones, but you will have to assess the risk/reward layout of each as you negotiate strategically placed bunkers.

The Stone Canyon course can provide a dramatic game that features cliff-side tee shots and corridors that are generous but make a ball disappear if it is not hit true. This is adventure-style golf and extreme terrain and although it departs from traditional layouts, it may just give you just the golfing experience you’ve been looking for.

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