Architect Gary Panks crafted a spectacular course that climbs a ridge along the Mogollon Rim, part of the Colorado Plateau, and gives the golfer incredible views of Sedona’s famous red rock formations in the Village of Oak Creek on the south end of town.
The course, which plays to a par of 71, stretches to a very playable length of 6,646 yards from the blue, or championship tees. It has played host to the Southwest Section PGA Championship and several events of the Arizona Golf Assn., the amateur body in the state.
The beauty of the surroundings and the famous Sedona vortex sites, spots where the earth’s energy is supposedly increased leading to self-awareness and various kinds of healing, can produce a relaxing and vitalizing round of golf at the same time.
Other than playing at say, Pebble Beach, Augusta or St. Andrews, this is about as close as a golfer can come to the feeling of playing a round in a cathedral.
Sedona is located off Interstate 17 about 120 miles north of Phoenix, and the 4,400-foot elevation makes the area much cooler than the Valley of the Sun during the summer months.
Sedona Golf Resort sits on hallowed ground. John Wayne and other famed celluloid cowboys rode this terrain as far back as the 1930s. In between the first and 18th holes at Sedona Golf Resort are the remains of the handmade red rock wall from Sedona’s original homesteads.
All around the golfers are towering rock formations of red sandstone, created by Mother Nature through iron oxidation. Enjoy the golf but don’t forget to drink in the views available from every spot on the course.
10th hole at Sedona Golf Resort
Especially gorgeous is the 210-yard, par-3 10th, the signature hole. The golfer plays from an elevated tee to a green that has Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock as a backdrop. The hole, rated No. 10 on the card, is user-friendly because tee shots that miss to the right often get a generous bounce onto the green.
The monster par-5, 623-yard fifth, toughest hole on the course, and the 448-yard, par-4 eighth hole give the golfer a bit of Scottish Highlands golf in the high desert because they share a multi-tiered, 17,000-square-foot green.
5th and 8th holes at Sedona Golf Resort
Another challenge is the 439-yard, par-4 15th, which rates No. 2 on the card. This hole requires a long drive to a narrow fairway with two sand traps on the right side of the landing area. An arroyo runs across the fairway 120 yards from the green, which is protected by a yawning trap on the left and four smaller bunkers on the right.
The 338-yard, par-4 18th hole can be reached from the tee on occasion by the long hitter, with the risk-reward factor coming into play in the form of a lake and four bunkers on the left of the green. For those who lay up, there are five more bunkers on the right side of the fairway.
Oak Creek Country Club
OTHER COURSES IN THE AREA: Practically next door at the foot of famed Bell Rock is another picturesque course, Oak Creek Country Club, which was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Jr.
Verde Santa Fe Golf Course, located about 15 minutes southwest of Sedona in Cornville, is more of a desert-style course in the Verde Valley, with views of Mingus Mountain and the Black Hills that range from historic Camp Verde to Cottonwood. This is where Gen. George Crook and the U.S. Army cavalry chased Geronimo and other renegade Apaches in the 1870s.
Beaver Creek Golf Course at Lake Montezuma is a friendly country-style layout that also is about 15 minutes away, to the Southeast. This was the first golf course in the area, designed by Arthur Jack Synder and opened in 1962.
Canyon Mesa Country Club, across Highway 17 from Oak Creek and Sedona Golf Resort, is a 9-hole, par-28 layout that is good practice for your short game and comes with all the scenic beauty of the championship courses.
Enchantment Resort, Sedona
WHERE TO STAY: The Sedona Golf Resort offers all the amenities of a full-service resort, but there is a multitude of places to stay in the area, from bed-and-breakfasts to upscale resorts.
Among the best are Amara Creekside Resort, La Auberge Sedona Resort, Radisson Poco Diablo Resort, the Creekside Inn at Sedona, Boots and Saddles Romantic Bed and Breakfast, the Briar Patch Inn, the Apple Orchard Inn, and the elegant Enchantment Resort, which features a fun pitch-and-putt course and putting green.