Quartet of courses in northern Arizona highlight area’s draw for year-round golf

Sedona Golf Resort

With the PGA Tour’s recent focus on TPC Scottsdale and the raucous WM Phoenix Open, desert golf was on display. Along with that comes the desire of every winter golfer yearning to get out on the course and tee it up in moderate, dry weather on courses that are well-conditioned.

To satisfy this desire we offer you an option from the Valley of the Sun – the trio of northern Arizona destinations of Sedona, Flagstaff and Prescott about two hours to the north. Average temperatures in this neck of mountains and desert range from 58 degrees in the winter to the mid-90s in the summer.

Renowned for its natural beauty, small-town charm, and iconic red rock landscapes, northern Arizona is consistently ranked one of the most beautiful places in the United States. Situated in the state’s high desert, it’s simply awe-inspiring in any season. The region enjoys 300-plus days of sunshine a year, fresh mountain air and vistas that include striking red rock formations as a backdrop to most every swing.

There are four standout public courses in the area – the Sedona Golf Resort, Oak Creek Country Club and Agave Highlands Golf Course in Sedona and StoneRidge Golf Club in Prescott Valley. 

Take a look at the quartet below:

Jaw-dropping vistas the norm as Sedona Golf Resort

At Sedona Golf Resort, golf is routed in the shadow of Bell Rock and through a beautiful juniper-strewn valley. Designed by architect Gary Panks, this par-71, 6,646-yard championship track receives a continuous four-star rating from Golf Digest with its 10th hole ranking as one of the most scenic and photographed offerings in the Southwest.

Situated adjacent to the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock in the Village of Oak Creek, the course is played with Cathedral Rock as a backdrop and through verdant valleys with scenic bridge crossings, significant elevation changes, and take-your-breath-away views that can be a (good) distraction. If you could play golf in the Grand Canyon, this would be it.

Sedona Golf Resort offers challenging play for golfers of every level with a warm-up practice area and a set of family tees with friendly distances designed for beginners. Enjoy the course for the challenge and the great Red Rock views. 

Several par-4s and a par-5 play long and you will need an exceptional approach shot to reach the green in regulation. The shorter par-4s and the par-3s are where the course can allow birdies.

Sedona Golf Resort

Jones Sr. started things off the right way at Oak Creek Country Club

Oak Creek Country Club is the original and oldest golf course in Sedona, yet consistently ranks as one of the best with a seemingly endless list of awards and accolades. Nestled under Bell Rock in a tranquil setting in the Village of Oak Creek, Sedona’s first championship course is a Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed masterpiece with an idyllic player-friendly layout. 

The course features tree-lined doglegs, strategically placed fairway bunkers, slightly elevated greens, and the requisite views of Sedona’s Red Rock landscapes.
Oak Creek CC is a par-72 and is manageable at 6,824 yards from its back set of five tees. Its traditional layout includes three lakes with water coming into play on five holes. The terrain is mostly level, with some mild undulations are the fairways and greens. 

The uniqueness of this layout in comparison with the other courses in this area is its relatively flat terrain but there are also tree-lined fairways that will demand accuracy and length.

The course is challenging enough for the locals to be the host of the Sedona Open in June as well as the Northern Arizona Amateur Championship each fall. The experience here is serene and often breathtaking – a heck of a combination for golf.

Oak Creek Country Club

Playing up gets different meaning at Agave Highlands

Agave Highlands Golf Course (formerly known as the Verde Santa Fe Golf Club) is located at 3,300 feet of elevation about 15 minutes southwest of Sedona in the town of Cornville and only minutes from the historic charm of Old Town Cottonwood. 

The course is in the Verde Valley across from the spectacular Mingus Mountain range on a site framed by the vast range of the Black Hills.

Agave Highlands is routed among natural arroyos and has four lakes on the property, including one that adds spice aplenty to the 10th and 18th holes. The par-71 Agave Highlands Golf Course, designed by Stanton McGaw, measures 6,325 yards from the longest tees and is a challenging layout for all levels of golfers thanks to a variety of fun holes with long, narrow fairways. 

The scenery on the course is equally as stunning as the red rocks surrounding it, and its catchline of “Golf Elevated” is apropos.

Agave Highlands

StoneRidge Golf Club might be the best in the area

For our money, StoneRidge Golf Club in Prescott Valley might be the best public course in the region. Located at 5,200 feet of elevation within the foothills and shadows of the Bradshaw Mountains, StoneRidge Golf Club is surrounded by pinon pine, scrub oak, native grasses and wildflowers, intermingled among the granite rock formations and deep natural washes. 

Designed by Randy Heckenkemper, the 7,052-yard par-72 course is challenging and dramatic, climbing and falling more than 350 feet throughout the routing. Its fairways and greens complexes lay softly among the washes and canyons. Heckenkemper purposely preserved the natural washes and boulder formations in an effort to maintain the environmental integrity of the area.

Fans of classical design will appreciate the collection of holes at StoneRidge, especially the roller-coaster-like back nine. Hole No. 12, a medium-to-long par-3, is where StoneRidge lives up to its name as it is framed by pockets of boulders, rocks and ridges that serve as a gallery behind the green. 

No. 13, measuring 373 yards from the back tees, begins with a scenic elevated tee shot overlooking the fairway and green on the other side of an arroyo. From that lofty vantage point the entire hole unfolds and the green becomes partially obscured from view thanks to a distinctive sloping fairway.

StoneRidge is a desert/mountain course hybrid, with picturesque desert views and dramatic elevation changes. But a lot of times on mountain golf courses, the shots are too difficult, which makes a course lose its appeal. 

Heckenkemper was careful to examine the layout of each hole on this course and make adjustments that would help StoneRidge be more player-friendly, while still offering challenge and beauty. 

This is a one-of-a-kind routing which caters to players of all ages and skill levels. Four sets allow every golfer to find the exact distance that is right for them as they navigate the layout. Most par 3s play downhill and are very scenic and the routing as a whole sports generous landing areas (red), so everyone should be able to find a length that suits their game.

StoneRidge Golf Club is about as interesting as it gets, from Nos. 1 to 18 the design features unique desert carries to manicured fairways with panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains always in view. 

Elevated tees and greens, desert arroyos, spectacular landscaping – this is what makes northern Arizona golf so special.

StoneRidge Golf Club