Camelback golf club in Scottsdale Arizona is one of the best courses in the Phoenix area. While it’s certainly not the cheapest, it’s worth the money for a VIP experience.
Plus, they have two great courses that are very different from one another which make for a fun weekend of golf. Keep reading to learn why I think they are some of the best courses to play in Arizona.
Camelback golf course is tucked away in central Scottsdale and only a few miles from the busy restaurant-nightlife scene of Old Town. What’s great about Camelback is they have 36 holes and both are phenomenal courses.
Here is a quick overview of both championship golf courses :
- Ambiente Golf Course: Ambiente is the harder of the two courses and is a par 72 at 7,221 yards from the tips. This course doesn’t feel like you’re in Arizona as there are no desert or cactus sightings anywhere – just lush fairways, firm greens, tons of trees, and native grasses. After playing nearly every public golf course in the Phoenix area, I would say that Ambiente is my top five courses.
- Padre Golf Course: While I love Ambiente, don’t sleep on the Padre course either. It’s easier and more wide open than the other track but it’s still a good test of golf. Not to mention, it has much better finishing holes as #9 and #18 are epic. Padre measures at 6,903 yards from the tips and is also a par 72 golf course. It’s usually about $50 cheaper than Ambiente, depending on the time of year.
To get to the course, you drive through one of the nicest areas in Scottsdale where 5,000 to 10,000 square foot houses are normal. Once you pull into the golf club, it’s clear it’s an upscale golf course but still a friendly vibe – definitely not stuffy like some clubs nearby.
The clubhouse is enormous with a huge restaurant and outdoor patio that provides great views of the golf course. A few hundred yards away is the Padre golf course and the impressive driving range and practice area. They have a huge short game area to work on bunker shots, chips, pitches, and putting. There’s also another putting green right next to the first tee at Ambiente too.
Both golf courses have tons of high quality golf; Ambiente has more fescue and water hazards, while Padre is more wide open and has more houses. But both have incredible greens that are always some of the best in the valley.
Here are the best holes from each course.
Ambiente Golf Course
The first par five of the round is a good one if you can find the short grass. While it looks like there is a hazard right, there is a little more room than you think. Missing left isn’t good either with a penalizing fairway bunker and thick native grass.
If you’re in the fairway, the second shot is pretty straightforward as there is tons of room left of the green. Don’t miss right or you might find the thick grass and maybe lose your ball (sadly, I know from experience).
Make sure to check out the amazing houses on this hole and the remainder of the front nine.
This is a golf hole right here and feels like eternity regardless of which tee box you play from. After bombing one 300+ yards from the tips, I still couldn’t get home in two (nor is the shot very inviting with a 3-wood). The key is to find the fairway off the tee as the boxes set you up right towards bunkers and native grass hazard areas.
Once you find your drive, play for a three shot hole as there’s almost no reward for trying to go for this green in two shots. With a good wedge, you can still make four.
Number seven is over 600 yards and number eight is another long hole. At 241 yards, it plays every single yard of it as there isn’t much room to run a tee shot up to the green.
There aren’t a ton of good places to miss either. Left is a deep bunker, right is another bunker, and long slopes away from the green. Take a club that will land on the front and hope for a par, bogey isn’t a bad score for most golfers.
This is another good test of golf at 454 yards and a fairway bunker in the dead center of the fairway. Plus, deep grass and OB left with water hazards right. If you can, take it directly over the bunker and hit it hard for a shorter approach shot.
The second shot isn’t easy as it’s a tricky green with a big bunker that seems to eat up golf balls. Plus, the green is huge so you can easily have a 100-foot putt if you don’t hit it to the right section of the green.
I love this hole even though it’s nearly the length of a short par 4. What makes it so cool is the green is about 30 yards long. So if you hit your tee shot about 215 – 220 yards it can take the slope of the green all the way down to a back right pin.
The miss here is short and right as water is left and balls will bounce that way based on the slope. Missing right will leave a decent chip, but a four isn’t a horrible score here.
The green is very small though and there is a deep bunker that runs the entire left side of the green. Avoid the only greenside trap because the green slopes away from it and leaves a nearly impossible up and down from the bunker. You want to miss short and right for an easy birdie.
Padre Golf Course
Make sure to add a few extra yards to your approach as it plays slightly uphill. Don’t miss it long as there is a large slope behind the green that will leave a tough chip shot.
While it’s not a long par 5, it’s incredibly challenging. First, you need to thread the needle with a good drive to give yourself a look at going for the green in two. There is OB left and a fairway bunker to avoid, plus trees right.
If you do find the short grass, it’s not an easy second either as there is water everywhere by the green. There is some room to the left if you need to bail out on your approach shot.
Hole nine is a great way to end the front as it’s a short par 5 at only 517 yards. It runs parallel to #18 and the holes share a massive pond, so water runs the entire right side on this hole and the left side on the final hole.
Off the tee, hit it hard so you can leave yourself a shorter club into the green. For your approach shot, the key is to aim far enough left and avoid the right side of the green. Anything moving too fast will find the water, so left is the miss.
Plus, I’ve had plenty of good kicks into the bunker (which is a pretty easy shot) and even found the green for eagle. It’s short so give it a go with a good drive to head into the back nine with momentum.
This hole is a big boy hole at nearly 500 yards from the tips and it plays all of it. As long as you avoid the fairway bunker on the right, you should be fine but it’s still a long approach shot into the green.
The key is to aim left off the tee to give you a straight shot into the green. Make sure to add a few yards on your approach as it seems to play uphill. Take a par and run to the 11th hole as it’s a good birdie look.
This is the best par 3 on the Padre golf course and also quite a challenge. At nearly 200 yards from the tips, it requires a solid long iron to find the dance floor. While there is some room to miss right and short, the left of the green is absolutely dead.
Even if you hit it on the left side of the green, if it’s coming in too low it’ll find the water. Always aim at the right or middle of the green (at most). The slope on the green is pretty challenging too.
The final hole on the Padre course runs along the other side of number one and is a reachable par 5 at 544 yards. With all that water, it can make or break your round and two of the best closing holes of any course in Arizona.
The drive is pretty easy and depends on if you want to try to get to the green in two shots. What makes the approach shot so difficult is that there’s no room to miss left.
If you pull it or draw your approach at all, it’s in the water and you’re taking a drop. The miss is definitely short and right – don’t ever flirt with a back left flag either.
If you have an uncomfortable distance on your second, lay up to a good distance and hope to hit your third close. The green isn’t too tricky so you can still make birdie the hard way.
During my last round at Ambiente I just put my new TCB irons and Rogue ST Max triple diamond driver into play. It was a good test with the new equipment and hit some awesome shots.
My favorite shot was on hole five where I nearly drove the green from the tips. I had just made two birdies in a row and after an epic drive, chipped it close and made another birdie. The streak ended at three but still a nice way to start the round.
My overall recommendation is a 9.5 out of 10. The only reason I will remove the .5 is that it’s one of the most expensive courses in the valley. But it’s also worth it in my opinion.
In season, the rates are north of $200 for both courses but I can almost guarantee that the courses will be in perfect condition. Since they do have a very small membership, it’s always kept in immaculate shape for both members and guests.
Plus, you can stay at the JW Marriott resort and get some better deals on golf too. Don’t worry, you can still play here even if you aren’t a member or staying at the JW Marriott.
What’s In the Bag
- Driver = Callaway Triple Diamond Rogue ST Max 9.0 – adjusted to 10.0 with “D” setting with Project X HZRDUS Smoke 70 gram shaft (X-Flex)
- 3-Wood = Callaway Mavrik Subzero 15 degrees with 80 gram Project X HZRDUS Smoke 80 gram shaft (X-Flex)
- Hybrid = Titleist TSi3 with Project X HZRDUS Smoke 90 gram shaft (X-Flex)
- Utility iron = Titleist U500 4 Iron (23 degrees) with Project X HZRDUS Smoke 100 gram shaft (X-Flex)
- Irons = Callaway Apex TCB 5-AW with 115 gram Project X IO shafts (X-Flex)
- Wedges = Titleist Vokey SM8 (56.10 & 62.8)
- Putter = PXG Operator
- Ball = Titleist Pro V1X
Should You Play Camelback Golf Course?
Yes, you should absolutely play both of these golf courses. Each of them are great tests of golf and Ambiente is one of the most demanding courses you can play from the tips.
If you spray it left and right, I would skip Ambiente as it might make for a long day searching for golf balls in the native grass. Instead, tee it up at Padre as it’s more forgiving and overall an easier golf course.
Both are perfectly manicured, tons of great scenery, and a good vibe from the moment you pull into the course.