Meeting Planners

Golf Courses in Tempe

4 reasons to hit the links and tee up in Tempe

In 2023, lawn care company LawnStarter released a study ranking the best cities for golfers. It’s no surprise that Arizona is home to five of the top 25 golf cities in the U.S.

Tempe may not be widely recognized for its golfing landscape, but the destination boasts an impressive selection of scenic courses that are located in close proximity to hotels, restaurants and attractions.

Whether you’re visiting Tempe for a bachelor party, family trip, business meeting or just to enjoy the great weather, here are four reasons to tee up the next time you swing into town.

Grass Clippings at Rolling Hills

1415 N. Mill Ave., Tempe, AZ 85288 | 480-530-9880

In 2023, this executive golf course embarked on a rebrand as Grass Clippings at Rolling Hills: Arizona’s only fully lit, 18-hole golf course and practice facility that’s available day and night.

At Rolling Hills Golf Course, the front 9 were designed by Milton Coggins and company in 1960. Nearly three decades later, in 1987, Arizona native Gary Panks designed the back nine. Today, golfers will find a trendy, player friendly oasis — juxtaposed against the sandstone buttes of Papago Park — that consists of 10 par 3s and eight par 4s.

Located less than 2 miles from Downtown Tempe, this hilly course lives up to its name with quite a few elevation changes. Take in views of the surrounding mountain ranges and skylines from the 8th hole (the course’s highest point) and keep an eye out for Sonoran Desert animals after dusk.

Grass Clippings offers a range of amenities, including practice facilities, a pro shop and an on-site golf pro. In addition, a live music venue and new restaurant are set to open in 2024. In the meantime, don’t miss the dedicated taco truck.

Holes: 18 | Par: 59 | Yardage: 3,428 | Type: Public/Municipal | Style: Traditional/Executive | Slope: N/A

Papago Golf Club

5595 E. Karsten Way, Phoenix, AZ 85008 | 602-275-8428

Papago Golf Club is a championship 18-hole golf course located less than 4 miles from Downtown Tempe, in the heart of Papago Park. For decades, Papago has earned Top 100 Public Course honors and you’re invited to check out what makes these links so unique.

Created by William Francis Bell — the genius behind San Diego’s famed Torrey Pines — Papago showcases his knack for designing courses that blend seamlessly with their surroundings. In this case, golfers are afforded unrivaled views of the Papago Buttes, Camelback Mountain as well as the skylines of Downtown Tempe and Phoenix.

Since opening in 1963, Papago has hosted numerous events including the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, Phoenix Open Qualifying and was recently chosen as the new home for Arizona State University’s men’s and women’s golf teams. The challenging layout features undulating greens framed with strategically placed bunkers and subtle but tricky mounding. Water hazards appear on a few holes as well. It’s a tough but straightforward layout that is still playable for a range of skill levels.

The 2018 addition of the Lou Grubb Clubhouse, which included Lou’s Bar & Grill and Evie’s Pavilion, has given the venue a midcentury modern twist while retaining its classic charm.

So, after a round, head to the restaurant for a wide variety of offerings paired with a relaxing atmosphere and some of the best patio views around. The open-air restaurant and patio that’s perfectly situated in the Sonoran Desert. Bask in the amazing hues of golden hour while playing a round of cornhole or relaxing around a fireplace on the expansive patio. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch invite golfers and non-golfers alike to savor sharables, pizzas, burgers, pasta, Lou’s custom cocktails and more — all of which are as delightful as the view from this expansive patio.

Papago Golf Club is conveniently situated just a few minutes from downtown Phoenix though you would never be able to tell with the peace and seclusion provided by the course’s location in Papago Park. The golf course sits at the base of Papago Buttes, past the rugged red rocks you can see Phoenix skyline.

Holes: 18 | Par: 72 | Yardage: 7,333 | Type: Public/Municipal | Style: Traditional | Slope: 130

Ken McDonald Golf Course

800 E. Divot Drive, Tempe, AZ 85283 | 480-878-3332

Consistently ranked as one of the area’s top daily fee golf courses, this 18-hole championship course — located 6 miles from Downtown Tempe — promises an excellent round of golf for an affordable price.

This well-maintained course has been a favorite among non-nonsense Arizona golfers. Built in 1974 and designed by famous local architect Jack Snyder, the course layout features fairly open fairways and strategically placed sand bunkers. The Western Canal flows through the center of the golf course, providing great scenery. And, while flat, you’ll find well-placed hazards at eight holes, providing an entertaining and challenging experience for every skill level.

In 2023, the course underwent a new public-private partnership transition to make many improvements to the course. CourseCo oversaw the management and operations transition, as well as planned capital improvements for the course.

“Ken McDonald is a beloved course for many in the Tempe community, and we look forward to continuing that legacy with this new partnership,” said Craig Hayton, Tempe community services director, in a City of Tempe press release announcing the transition. “CourseCo has extensive experience in managing public golf courses, and we’re excited to see what they bring to the course for golfers and non-golfers of all ages.”

With a lighted driving range that’s open until 9 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, cart and club rentals available and a fully equipped golf pro shop, there’s not much more you could ask for. Perhaps, something to eat.

The on-site restaurant serves breakfast favorites until 11 a.m., followed by casual lunch and dinner classics. Future visitors, however, will have a chance to check out the course’s new clubhouse and restaurant concept (expected to open in 2026).

Holes: 18 | Par: 72 | Yardage: 6,743 | Type: Public/Municipal | Style: Traditional | Slope: 125

Shalimar Golf Club

2032 E. Golf Ave., Tempe, AZ 85282 | 480-831-1244

This 9-hole golf course and driving range — nestled approximately 5 miles from Downtown Tempe — is popular among golfers of all ages. Open since 1961, this neighborhood course was designed by architect Forrest Richardson. And in 2014, became the first Arizona course to offer FootGolf, a soccer-golf hybrid sport with 22-inch holes, alongside its regular nine holes.

Billed as the best-kept secret in Tempe, the 44-acre course boasts three par 3s and six par 4s and is designed to help all levels of golfers improve their game. This professionally engineered course will challenge golfers to decrease their score across fairways, around various water hazards and over tactically placed sand traps.

Towering trees frame the holes for an idyllic setting that feels a world away from the buzz of the city. Additionally, the lighted driving range is open daily until 8 p.m., and until 9 p.m. on Fridays.

The on-site restaurant and bar pair patio views of the urban course with casual fare, including weekend breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. and daily lunch and dinner from 5 to 8 p.m. on Fridays.

Holes: 9 | Par: 33 | Yardage: 2,406 | Type: Public | Style: Traditional | Slope: 109

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