By Tim J. Randall

With so many phenomenal golf courses around the Valley—more than 200 in Greater Phoenix—players have a tour bag of options on where to “tee it up.” But how to choose? Here are five must-play tracks.

TPC Scottsdale Champions Course

While the TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course, site of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, receives the acclaim, its sister course TPC Champions provides players of all skill levels with an enjoyable, yet challenging tour around the links. Low handicappers who want to test the “tips” should prepare themselves for a bruiser Par 71 experience over 7,115 yards. For beauty and a test of shot making, they won’t find a better hole than No. 5, a dogleg left Par 4 with danger flanking the left side.

TPC Scottsdale, 17020 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale, 480-585-4334, 888-400-4001, tpc.com.

ASU-Karsten Golf Course

Never played a Pete Dye golf course before? Try out this “Dyeabolical” test from one of the game’s premier course architects. Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson played his collegiate golf on this course at the ASU campus. Dye’s Par 70, 7,002-yard adventure from the professional tees is a rollercoaster ride of thrills, replete with the master’s famous railroad ties. If you walk away from the sensationally difficult 16th hole with a Par 3 on the card, the after-round beverage will taste extra refreshing.

ASU Karsten Golf Course, 1125 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, 480-921-8070, asukarsten.com.

Eagle Mountain Golf Club

Eagle Mountain Golf Club provides an absolutely terrific examination of a player’s game, and offers stunning views of Fountain Hills and gorgeous mountain vistas. Playing a deceptive 6,800 yards from the back tees at a Par 71, the course offers shot options that can lead to birdie barrages or double-bogey blues. The home stretch of holes 15 to 18 are as beautiful as they are a pure pleasure to play.

Eagle Mountain Golf Club, 14915 Eagle Mountain Parkway, Fountain Hills, 480-816-1234, eaglemtn.com.

McCormick Ranch Golf Club

Boasting 36 holes, McCormick Ranch’s Palm and Pine layouts offer two distinct experiences, forcing golfers to trust their games and their shot selection. Designed by legendary architect Desmond Muirhead, who collaborated with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, both tracks are Par 72 and stretch over 7,000 yards from the tips. With water in play on many of the 36 holes, don’t be surprised if a few Titleists come out of the bag. It’s never truer than on the Pine’s 15th hole, which may be one of the most bruising two-shot experiences in Phoenix golf.

McCormick Ranch Golf Club, 7505 E. McCormick Parkway, Scottsdale, 480-948-0260, mccormickranchgolf.com.

Sun Ridge Canyon Golf Club

Save the best for last. SunRidge Canyon Golf Club is, in this ball-striker’s opinion, the most visually stunning and best round of golf available in the Valley. With 18 holes weaving through the canyons of the McDowell Mountains, designer Keith Foster carved out a golfing treasure. A Par 71 at 6,823 yards from the “tips,” the two nines offer a combustible mix of incredible views and exhilarating golf. A front nine that offers a host of potential birdie chances will be countered on the back side with the final six holes dubbed “The Wicked Six.”

SunRidge Canyon Golf Club, 13100 Sunridge Drive, Fountain Hills, 480-837-5100, sunridgegolf.com.

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