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Camelback Golf Club Review – A Gem in Central Scottsdale

In this Camelback Golf Club review, I’ll take you through why it’s one of the best golf courses in Scottsdale (and Arizona).

When it comes to golf in Scottsdale, Arizona, you’ll find a wealth of stunning courses set against the backdrop of the beautiful Sonoran Desert. From TPC Scottsdale to Grayhawk to Troon and countless others.

But one that doesn’t get enough credit in my opinion is Camelback Golf Club. It’s a hidden gem tucked away in Central Scottsdale and a phenomenal course. 

In this comprehensive review, we’ll delve into the details of both courses, highlighting their best features, signature holes, and what you can expect when you tee off at Camelback.

Camelback made our list of the best golf courses in Scottsdale and won’t disappoint. 

Camelback Padre golf course

Camelback Golf Club Review

Camelback Golf Club has two great 18-hole championship golf courses – Padre and Ambiente. Both tracks will provide you with a great test of golf in nearly perfect conditions’ year round. 

Padre is a little bit shorter and easier than Ambiente at 6,824 yards – par 72. It has a more generous layout with wider fairways and easier green complexes. But it’s still one of my favorite places to play thanks to some great holes, which I’ll cover below.

Ambiente is one of the best tests in golf at 7,225 yards from the tips. With a slope rating of 74.2, you’re in for a great challenge to all parts of your game. It has a very different layout than Padre and is nothing like most desert golf courses, with more of a marsh like setting. 

The Ambiente Course at Camelback Golf Club is a masterpiece designed by renowned golf course architect Jason Straka. It has been meticulously crafted to blend seamlessly with the natural desert surroundings, offering a tranquil and visually stunning golf experience.

Both courses have five sets of tees that make it more friendly for all types of golfers. 


  • Built in 1970 – renovated in 2013 
  • Owned by JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn 
  • Large pro shop where you can find the latest golf equipment, apparel, and rental clubs if you want to travel light.  
  • Golf instruction is available for players looking to improve their game. The Camelback Golf Academy offers lessons from certified professionals.
  • The clubhouses for both courses provide a welcoming environment for post-round relaxation and perfect views of the finishing holes. 
First hole at Camelback golf club

Practice Facility

Camelback has one of the best practice facilities in the Scottsdale area. They have a two-sided all grass driving range, a good-sized chipping green (with bunker), and massive putting green. They also have a few extra perks if you’re a member too. 

Even if you aren’t playing the golf course you can still practice there too. Similar to Whirlwind Golf Course they offer a daily practice pass that costs about $35 to use their facilities for the day. It’s a little steep but it’s a great setup and can help you hone all aspects of your game. 

Course Overview + Conditions 

One thing I love about Camelback is that it is always in great shape. No matter what time of year – even in the scorched earth summers – both courses are pristine. That includes the practice facility too. 

The fairways are always very well maintained, rough is penalizing but fair, and greens always roll true.

Hole 14 at Camelback Golf Club

Noteworthy Holes on Ambiente Golf Course 

The Ambiente Course is known for its challenging bunkers, strategic water hazards, and well-manicured fairways. The course has received accolades for its sustainability efforts, including a desert conservation program that preserves the local environment. But there’s plenty of trouble off the tee and on approach shots if you find yourself in these areas. 

Hole 3: Par 5 – 556 yards 

This is a great par 5 that requires a good tee shot to give yourself a chance to get near the green in two. You’ll have to thread the needle between the left bunker and the right desert area and there is more room right than you can see. 

On your second shot the miss is to the left of the green. Missing short and chipping up is also a good option to give yourself a good look at birdie. It’s also one of the easier green complexes too. 

Hole 8: Par 3 – 241 yards 

The 8th hole is an absolute beast and should be the number one handicap (it’s number nine which makes zero sense). From the tips it’s nearly 250 yards and a bunker guards the left side of the green. Take a par and run to the next hole! 

Hole 12: Par 4 – 454 yards 

This is a great golf hole that requires a solid drive to give yourself a shorter approach shot. You’ll have to decide if you want to take on the fairway bunker in the middle of the hole or try to avoid it.

Even if you do hit a great drive the second shot is tricky, especially to a back left pin. Missing long isn’t as bad as it looks but aim for the middle of the green with a long iron or hybrid. 

Hole 14: Par 5 – 580 yards 

The par 5s are all a great test of golf at Ambiente and this one is no exception. You’ll need to blister two perfect shots to get to the green which is also one of the smaller ones on the course. 

Avoiding the myriad of fairway bunkers off the tee is the first step. If you’re in the rough which is pretty juice you might need to lay up and give yourself a good wedge into this challenging green.

10th hole at Camelback Ambiente

Noteworthy Holes on Padre Golf Course 

The Padre Course is known for its tree-lined fairways with very wide and pretty straightforward green complexes. It’s not as challenging as Ambiente but I would argue it has the better closing holes in the 9th and 18th. 

Here are some of my favorite holes on this golf course. 

Hole 5: Par 5 – 544 yards 

The first par 5 of the day is a solid test off the tee with OB left and trees right. Even if you do hit a perfect drive you’ll have one of the most difficult second shots as the green is very narrow and guarded with water. 

The green itself isn’t easy either; I’ve even seen someone putt off into the water! Needless to say it’s a great par 5 that makes you think about every shot. 

Hole 8: Par 3 – 219 yards 

The 8th hole is the longest and most difficult par 3 of the day. It all carry over water but does have a generous sized green. Par is never a bad score on this hole. 

Hole 9: Par 5 – 553 yards 

The final hole on the front nine is a challenging par 5 with a well-protected green. Strategically placed bunkers and water hazards make it a fantastic hole to test your skills. 

The miss is to the left on your second shot and it might bounce and roll right. The water is directly next to the right side of the green so choose your target carefully. 

Hole 10: Par 4 – 480 yards

The 10th hole is an absolute beast and deserves to be the number two handicap hole. It’s long from any tee box but the fairway does run out from the downhill slope. The second shot isn’t easy with a long club so aim for the middle and hope for a par. 

Hole 18: Par 5 – 580 yards 

The last hole on the back nine is a beast. I’ve only hit near the green (never on it – yet) as it’s long and water runs the left side for your approach shot. There is more room right than you think but might be a three shot hole for most golfers. 

View of Padre golf course at Camelback


Do you have more questions about Camelback Golf Club? If so, keep scrolling through the most frequently asked questions and answers now. 

Can you practice at Camelback Golf Club?

Yes, they do offer a daily practice rate for about $35 even if you aren’t playing. 

How many courses does Camelback have?

Camelback Golf Club has two 18 hole courses – Padre and Ambiente. Both are a great challenge with a shared practice facility. 

Is Camelback Golf Club private? 

No, they are semi-private with a few memberships available. You can pay a public rate or get a better deal if you’re staying at the resort. 

Does Camelback offer a summer pass? 

Yes, as of the summer 2023 they have a great summer pass deal. It’s a one time fee (which is about the price of a round of golf) and gives you flat fee per round through Labor Day. Weekends are only $5 to $10 more and it’s a great value for one of the most expensive courses in Scottsdale. 

Overall Recommendation

Camelback Golf Club’s Ambiente and Padre courses offer golf enthusiasts in Scottsdale, Arizona, a great experience. It’s got tons of beauty, 36 great holes (better than Talking Stick which is nearby), and the courses are in perfect shape year round.

But it’s far from cheap, especially in season. So if you’re a local, wait until June-September to play these great golf courses. 

Whether you prefer the traditional tree-lined fairways of the Padre Course or the desert vistas and sustainability efforts of the Ambiente Course, Camelback has something to offer every golfer.

If you’re planning a golf trip to Scottsdale, be sure to include a round or two at Camelback Golf Club. With their unique characteristics and stunning landscapes, it’s an unforgettable golf experience in the heart of the desert.  

Have you played Camelback Golf Club?

Let me know in the comments below. 

If you want to play a shorter course in the area, check out my review of Mountain Shadows (aka the Short Course). 

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