Desert destination: Arizona’s Whirlwind Golf Club

Updated: February 1, 2023

When you make a trip to the Valley of the Sun, there are many options. Even as you fly overhead and land at Sky Harbor Airport, you see the landscape below and how it is filled with golf courses.

However, located a little south of downtown Phoenix sits a facility located on the Gila River Indian Community, with two courses is, Whirlwind Golf Club at Wild Horse Pass.

When you picture desert golf, this is a place that lives up to that billing. There are two courses, Devil’s Claw and Cattail and both are carved out of the Arizona desert.

 As you stand on the first tee of either course, the desert seems like it stretches for miles. The Estrella Mountains make a perfect backdrop on just about every hole.

The entire layout sits on 500 acres – with 250 acres of turfed areas and another 250 acres of desert area –  and there are many times where you don’t even notice any other golfers on the course. Both courses can be stretched to over 7,000 yards, which is why the course has been host to some big-time golf tournaments in the past, including some which have lured PGA Tour players. In fact, Whirlwind played host to the PGA Tour’s Nation                  

The Gila River Indian Community influence can be seen and felt through the course and clubhouse. The courses are part of Wild Horse Pass, which is owned by the Gila River Indian Community. As you make your way around Cattail, you will see the Sheraton Grand Resort in the background. Wild Horse Pass comes complete with Gila River Resorts Hotel & Casino, Sheraton Grand Resort, Aja Spa, restaurants, shopping, and more!

 But for golfers, the biggest draw is Whirlwind Golf Club and its two courses designed by Gary Panks. Despite being next-door to each other and designed by the same architect, these are two courses with distinctive identities.

The courses are annually ranked among the best in Arizona. And for good reason. They are challenging, always in top shape and feature plenty of holes with waste area, water, sand and more.