Rio Verde Country Club – A hidden gem among Phoenix-area private golf clubs

Stunning mountain views like this one of the Four Peaks can be seen throughout Rio Verde’s two championship golf courses.

Rio Verde Country Club sits in the secluded Rio Verde community Northeast of Scottsdale, and is nestled in the heart of the beautiful Sonoran Desert surrounded by the Tonto National Forest and McDowell Regional Park. While the club has been around for more than 25 years, it is still relatively unknown and sometimes takes a backseat to the trendy “Scottsdale scene” of private golf, yet it offers as much, if not more than any of the other top-notch private facilities in the Valley.  Rio Verde Country Club offers up spectacular golf, breathtaking scenery and a strong social presence among the membership. It is a true and complete golf “community” with a small-town feel that features more than 900 diverse homes and townhomes, a local church, post office and small commercial center. It is a hidden gem among Phoenix-area private clubs, but now the word is starting to get out.

Let’s start with the golf. Unlike a lot of private clubs in the Valley, Rio Verde boasts not one but two outstanding golf courses offering plenty of variety for all levels of play. Both courses were redesigned by Tom Lehman in 2009, and are traditional parkland-style courses, as opposed to the numerous desert, target-golf type courses that you see at other clubs in the Valley.

“It’s a nice change of pace to have parkland-style golf courses here in the desert, and it’s one of the biggest qualities that makes Rio Verde stand out from other private clubs in the area,” said Jay Critcher, General Manager of Rio Verde Country Club.

Both Quail Run and White Wing are great walking courses and, as a matter of fact, a number of golfers walk the course quite frequently instead of using golf carts (though there is no trail fee and most do have their own personal golf carts).  Maybe that’s because they want to spend time taking in the spectacular mountain views of the Four Peaks and Mazatzal Mountains that surround the golf course in the Tonto National Forest.

“The views out here really are spectacular, making it sometimes hard to just focus on golf while taking in all of the natural surrounding beauty,” Critcher said. 

The courses are set up for all levels of play to enjoy, and the club is extremely conscious of the female golfer. The ladies of Rio Verde have one of the more active Women’s Associations in Arizona.

While the cornerstone of action at the club is the golf itself, the members have a strong sense of community, and that can be seen in the numerous social activities Rio Verde Country Club has to offer.

“Golf really is the focal point of the club, but other activities help build that strong sense of community, which really adds to the personality of the club and its members,” Critcher said.

It all starts at the elegant 27,000 square-foot southwestern-style clubhouse, which acts as the hub of the Rio Verde social scene. The clubhouse offers three restaurants featuring a distinct variety of dining options, ranging from a casual slice of pizza or beer in the Verde Pub to a more upscale dining experience in the Copper Room. Additionally, Rio Verde’s spacious ballroom, considered to be one of the largest among the private clubs in Arizona, stands ready to host bigger social gatherings for those special occasions and events.

When not playing golf, members at Rio Verde Country Club have a myriad of other activities to keep them busy. The community has six tennis courts, a recently renovated swimming pool, a fully-equipped exercise facility with new equipment, a Saddle Club that offers horseback riding, numerous hiking and biking opportunities, and a community center that offers a countless number of activities. 

But probably the most unique feature that Rio Verde has to offer is the Rio Verde Ranch, a southwestern-style outdoor area situated on the banks of the Verde River that hosts Western-style cookouts and other social events.   

“The Ranch is a huge hit among the members, and is a unique setting that really gives everyone here a great sense of pride and enjoyment,” Critcher said. “The cookouts that we host here are usually among the most popular.”

Rio Verde Country Club recently announced some new membership packages offering unique “preview” options that are great for golfers interested in getting the feel of being a member on a trial basis without the full-time commitment. 

“We have some great options for those visitors who are down for the winter or for locals that live in the area and want to give us a try and see what we have to offer before becoming a full-time member,” Critcher said. 

While Rio Verde Country Club might seem secluded to some people, it is only 10 minutes to the town of Fountain Hills, 20 minutes to Scottsdale and about 45 minutes to downtown Phoenix and Sky Harbor International Airport. But Rio Verde Country Club’s seclusion is what sets it apart, and what attracted so many of its current members. It may not be for everyone, but if you want to be a part of a place that has exceptional golf, a great sense of community, and literally has a national park in its backyard, then Rio Verde Country Club is definitely worth checking out.

For more information about Rio Verde Country Club, visit To inquire about memberships, call 480.471.7010 or email