Best Golf Courses for Beginners

By local contributor
Tom Mackin

Learning any sport can be humbling, frustrating and haltingly enjoyable. And then there's golf, where you can experience all of those emotions on your first hole! 

It takes a lot of practice, lessons and hard work to achieve even a relative degree of skill (not to mention learning the proper etiquette). But then you have to transfer that skill to the course. Picking the right courses to do that is critical for beginners. Here are four courses where you should be able to enjoy yourself (ask about 9-hole rates that may be available to save both time and money as you ease your way into the game). And while you're out there, remember to keep play moving, repair your divots, fix ball marks on the greens, and pick up the ball after your score reaches double bogey. Then head to the next hole and try again!


Kierland Golf Club


Always in stellar condition, the 27 holes on the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa property were designed by Scott Miller, who graciously lined numerous fairways with mounding that helps directs shots back into play (helping veteran golfers, too). Entrances to most greens are accessible and forced carries are few. You can also get around the course on a GolfBoard, GolfBike or the brand new TurfRider, enhancing the overall experience.


Talking Stick Golf Club


While both the O'Odham (formerly the North course) and Piipaash (formerly the South) courses at this venue (located right behind Talking Stick Resort & Casino) are fairly straightforward designs by famed architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, it's the latter layout that may be better suited for those still learning the game. The greens aren't quite as crowned, and fewer angles come into play on the fairways. 


TPC Scottsdale Champions Course


Its much higher-profile sibling, the TPC Stadium Course (home of the PGA Tour's Waste Management Phoenix Open), is located right across the street, but the Champions is highly regarded by locals. And it's not just because the green fee is significantly lower; it's a fun, walkable layout with large greens. The pace of play on the Champions Course also tends to be a bit better.


Papago Golf Course


This beloved municipal course, located just east of Sky Harbor International Airport, has been welcoming golfers of all skill levels since 1963. The tree-lined fairways are pretty wide, water is only in play on one hole (to the right of the first green), and you get some memorable views of the Papago Buttes looming right next to the course. Beginners are even invited to tour the facility and learn where everything is before stepping out on to the course!