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March 23, 2023

Small wonders: Scottsdale’s top par 3s

By Alabama Golf News Staff
We Ko Pa par 3 Saguaro No 8

Par 3 holes you'll remember

There’s no denying golfers love the long ball. Nothing excites PGA Tour fans more than watching big hitters like Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm smash towering drives down the fairways. However, few will ever replicate these heroics on their own. 

While we may strive for 300-yard drives, the best opportunities most players will have to hit shots reminiscent of their PGA Tour heroes will come on a golf course’s par 3 holes. 

Luckily, Scottsdale, home of the Waste Management Phoenix Open and Spring Training baseball, boasts some of the game’s most thrilling and celebrated par 3 holes.

Here are some of the best visitors can look forward to playing the next time they are in the Valley of the Sun:

 TPC Scottsdale, Stadium Course, 12th Hole

The entire world knows about TPC Scottsdale’s infamous 16th Hole, a par 3, and for a good reason. Playing No. 16 with the stadium seating prior to the WM Phoenix Open is an experience unlike anything else in golf.

TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course No. 12 has water right and behind the green.
No. 12 on the TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course has water right and behind the green.

However, purely as a golf challenge, the Stadium Course’s 12th hole is not only better than the 16th, it’s among the very best in Scottsdale. From the back tee, the 12th hole stretches just over 192 yards to center. The green is long and somewhat narrow with bunkers left and water to the rear and right, giving players little room for error. Players may not be booed if they miss the green here, but pars are more scarce.

 Troon North, Monument Course, 16th Hole

Both courses at Troon North Golf Club are celebrated for their incredible challenges and raw natural beauty. The 16th hole on the Monument Course puts these attributes on spectacular display.

Troon North Monument No 16
No. 16 on Troon North’s Monument course offers expansive vistas.

From a dramatically elevated tee box with Troon North’s iconic boulders, players are treated to sweeping westward views of the valley below. From the back tees, the 16th is measured at 244 yards but plays at least one to two clubs shorter, depending upon conditions. The shot is daunting, but there’s more room than it first appears for slight misses. This hole is especially striking late in the day with the sun sinking low and the Arizona sky ablaze.

 Grayhawk Golf Club, Talon Course, 17th Hole

Grayhawk No 17 par 3
The 17th hole of The Talon Course at Grayhawk Golf Club.

Not all Scottsdale’s great par 3s are long. The 17th on Grayhawk Golf Club’s Talon Course measures just 126 yards from the rear tees. It’s a simple wedge for most players,

however, getting the ball close and even keeping it on the true island green can give players fits. No. 17’s green has subtle crowning and artful contours that deftly deflect all but the most purely struck shots. The waters around the green have swallowed more than their share of golf balls, and the hole is aptly named Devil’s Drink. 

SunRidge Canyon, 17th Hole

The 17th Hole at SunRidge Canyon Golf Club is part of The Wicked Six, the club’s daunting finishing holes some consider to be the toughest in Arizona.

Play alternates between its two sets of tees, giving No. 17 a completely different personality depending on the day it’s played. From the “long tees,” the hole measures 209 yards. Players must carry a box canyon to a mid-sized green with a bunker right. The “short tees” require an elevated tee shot of up to 152 yards into a small green with the bunker left. Add in the varying winds, and this challenging hole is quite capable of giving players fits.

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, Saguaro Course, 15th Hole

Finally, the 15th hole on We-Ko-Pa Golf Club’s celebrated Saguaro Course designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw may be one of Scottsdale’s most scenic and most challenging.

The hole stretches 255 from the back tees to the center of its massive green. Panoramic views of the Mazatazal Mountains form its backdrop, and the rugged Sonoran Desert hugs tightly to its left side. Pulled shots meet certain death. The right is more accommodating with a generous bail-out area. Typically, the hole plays firm and fast, giving players more roll than expected and shots tend to break left once on the green. Getting the ball close to the pin can be difficult, putting a premium on a player’s short game and creativity.  

These are just five of Scottsdale’s spectacular par 3s that delight players from around the globe. To learn more about the more than 200 courses in the greater Scottsdale area, plus the accommodations and activities for rounding out the perfect golf vacation, check out

Gregg Dewalt is the editor of Alabama Golf News

Have a story idea or a news item to report to Alabama Golf News? Email

All photos courtesy of Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau; featured image: No. 6 on We Ko Pa’s Saguaro course

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