America's Greatest Desert Courses

By Ryan Watson

Desert golf is one of the most unique golfing experiences. The juxtaposition of lush fairways and desert scrub provides a beautiful contrast. The following is our list of the best desert courses in America.

Quintero Golf Club

16752 W, AZ-74
Peoria, AZ 85383
(928) 501-1500

Quintero Golf Club is located a short distance from Scottsdale and has quickly established itself as one of Arizona’s best courses. The course feels big as it sprawls throughout the desert, with designer Rees Jones often going for the spectacular. Golfers should expect both dramatic elevation changes as well as a strategic course, as well as beautiful desert vistas and the impressive Superstition Mountains on the horizon.

Coyote Springs Golf Club

3100 NV-168
Moapa, NV 89025
(877) 742-8455

Built by Jack Nicklaus in 2008, Coyote Springs is located 50 miles away from the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. The course is a stark green oasis, complete with water hazards, in otherwise bleak desert landscapes. Golfers should expect rolling fairways and fast greens protected by inventive bunkering. The course will require every club in the bag and should challenge any golfer.

Desert Willow Golf Resort

38-995 Desert Willow Dr.
Palm Desert, CA 92260
(760) 346-0015

Home to the Firecliff Course and the Mountain Course, Desert Willow is one of California’s best golf resorts in the saturated Palm Springs area. While the Mountain Course is fun, Firecliff is a more true example of desert golf. The course features over 100 natural waste areas to really bring the desert to you, along with stunning views. The course has also been rated the best public access golf course by Desert Golf Magazine, showing its pedigree among desert golfers.

Sedona Golf Resort

35 Ridge Trail Dr.
Sedona, AZ 86351
(928) 284-9355

Located in the geographical wonderland of Sedona about an hour and half north of Phoenix is the Sedona Golf Resort. The course was built in 1988 by course architect Gary Panks and comes in at a short 6,646 yards. The main draw here is the scenery and you would be hard pressed to find many courses in more stunning surroundings than here. Golfers enjoy views of Sedona’s famous red rocks while enjoying a well maintained course that will appeal to all skill levels.

Marriott’s Shadow Ridge Golf Resort

9002 Shadow Ridge Rd.
Palm Desert, CA 92211
(760) 674-2700

Located in Coachella Valley and with the Santa Rosa Mountains as backdrops, Marriott’s Shadow Ridge Golf Resort serves up some amazing desert views. The course was designed by 6-time major winner Nick Faldo and was his first course built in the US. The course features wide fairways, but forces golfers to play strategically with numerous high risk/high reward shots and heavily guarded greens. The course is regularly listed as one of California’s best courses.

Coral Canyon Golf Course

1925 N Canyon Greens Circle
Washington, UT 84780
(435) 688-1700

Coral Canyon Golf Course is one of Southern Utah’s best courses. Keith Foster designed this high desert gem in Washington, Utah in 2001 among the red rocks and mountains. Desert wastes are used throughout and is known for its interesting routing and liberal use of par-5s. The course favors shotmakers and strategic golfers, but is still accessible enough to casual players.

Indian Wells Golf Resort

44-500 Indian Wells Ln,
Indian Wells, CA 92210
(760) 346-4653

Indian Wells features 2 championship courses in the Palm Springs area, along with a luxury resort. The courses are expertly landscaped, using both desert wastes and plants to frame the courses’ desert location, while still using water features to add challenge for golfers. Of the courses, the Players course offers more challenge while the Celebrity course is slightly easier, though still with plenty of challenge.

Wolf Creek Golf Club

403 Paradise Pkwy.
Mesquite, NV 89027
(702) 346-1670

Wolf Creek Golf Club, located outside Las Vegas, is one of America’s most beautiful courses. Designed by Dennis Ryder in 2000, the course offers amazing views of the surrounding desert and mountains, but also uses elevation changes not often seen on desert courses to create a memorable experience. The course features forced carries over desert wastes and wide arroyos that add to both the challenge and enormous scenic beauty of the course.

Entrada at Snow Canyon Country Club

2537 Entrada Trail
St. George, UT 84770
(435) 986-2200

And finishing out our list is Etrada at Snow Canyon Country Club in the resort town of St. George, Utah. The course was designed for Johnny Miller in 1996 and helped put Southern Utah’s high desert on the golfing world’s map. The course features great views, but is hurt by residential encroachment. However, the inclusion of the naturally occuring black lava rock helps ensure the course remains a memorable experience and the course remains both challenging and scenic and deserves a spot on any list of America’s best desert courses.

About the Author

Ryan Watson is a freelance sportswriter and history professor. He has been an avid fan of golf since his father signed him up for golf camp as a young child. Ryan enjoys following the professional game and learning about new equipment and gadgets.