Believe it or not, Sedona has just three golf courses – Sedona Golf Resort, Oakcreek Country Club, and Seven Canyons. Sedona Golf Resort is on your lefthand side as you enter town on Highway 179. Oakcreek is off Verde Valley School Road but is still only about two hours away from Phoenix. Phoenix is very centrally located. You can be just about anywhere in two hours – Sedona, Flagstaff, Prescott, or Tucson. I went up to Oakcreek to play a practice round in preparation for this weekend’s NCCGA tournament with the Golf Academy Club Team.
When you drive into town, you can’t help but notice the beautiful red rocks that Sedona is known for. When you get to Oakcreek Country Club, you realize that you’re in for a real treat. The course was originally designed by the Robert Trent Joneses (both Sr. and Jr.) as a nine-hole facility in 1968. A second nine was added a few years later in 1971. It plays 6,824 yards from the Black Tees to a course rating of 71.5 and a slope of 131. The grass is lush throughout the grounds. The rough is thick, the fairways are blue grass, and the greens are a mix of bentgrass, ryegrass, and Poa annua. If you play much golf in Arizona, you know what a rarity it is to play bentgrass greens. Phoenix is way too hot for bentgrass, and most courses have either moved or are moving to bermuda grasses for their greens because they take less water and because they can take the heat. But bentgrass seems to love the 4,000-foot elevation of Sedona. Here are some of the highlights of the round:
Holes Worth Writing Home About
As of March 1st, Oakcreek switched its 9’s. What was once Hole No. 1 is now Hole No. 10. I think that was a good idea. The back nine is much prettier than the front nine because it weaves through several red rock cliffs. The 18th hole is also a magnificent, and challenging finishing hole. It’s 450 yards from the tips with bunkers on the left, water on the right, and a fairway that slopes from left to right. Like I said, it’s good finishing hole. Every hole on the course is tree-lined to a certain degree, and the green complexes are fast and undulating.
Your first really good view of the red rocks comes on the 360-yard Par 4 2nd hole. It’s a dogleg right, and when you get ready to hit your approach shot into the green, there is this tall, pretty red rock face overlooking the green. It kind of reminds me of Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, only this tower is 100 different shades of red.
The best views come on the back nine. My favorite was the 185-yard Par 3 13th hole. There is a huge home on the lefthand side of the hole, and the member I played with told me he thought it sold for $12 million not too long ago. It’s a beautiful home on a beautiful hole with trees all around in what appears to be the base of a red rock canyon. It’s a stunning view.
From the back tees, the 565-yard Par 5 10th hole is almost unfair. Because of the overhanging cottonwood trees, you only have a 20-30 window through which to work your tee shot, preferably a cut. Miss right and you’re in the lake. Miss left and you’re in a fairway bunker. And you can forget about getting home in two! I’m told they move the tees up for the pros when the PGA Southwest Section plays the Sedona Open every year, so it’ll be interesting to see how they play it for our college tournament.
Here’s a great putting tip for you: the greens break away from the red rock towers just north of the course. The starter was a great guy, and he had a great line about the greens at Oakcreek: “You don’t read em’, you memorize em’.” True, sometimes it’s tough to read the break, but that tip might come in handy. The guy I played with was a member, and he told me to try and always keep the ball below the hole. Sometimes it’s tough to do because the greens are so elevated, but today, the greens were soft, so the ball pretty much always stopped right where it hit. I felt like the ball carried about the same distance as it does in the Valley. You can play to your usual yardages.
It costs $99 to play the course before 1:00p and $79 to play it after 1:00p. Range balls are included, which I thought was a nice touch, and they’re already ready and waiting for you in the back of your cart. If I’m paying $100 to play your course, don’t be a scrooge and charge me for range balls so I can warm up. Just throw em’ in!
Heather Risk just recently took over as the Director of Golf. Risk is a Class A LPGA Teaching and Club Professional. If including range balls in the carts was her idea, I’m already a big fan
The best shot I hit came on the 380-yard Par 4 17th hole. I had 145 yards into the hole and hit a 9-iron to within two-feet for a tap-in birdie three. It was a great way to cap off the round.
While We’re Young
We played in 3:57 after flying through the front nine and running into a traffic jam on the back nine. We lost the couple we were playing with, so that sped us up. The marshal that was going around the course told us what was going on and to expect some slower play. I don’t remember the last time I ran into a marshal on the golf course, but it’s a great asset to have if a course can afford it. They can help settle disputes as well as keep the pace of play moving. He was even carrying a While We’re Young sign (after the USGA initiative). That’s how this section of the course review got it’s name. Had it not been for the delays, I think we could have easily played in 3:15 or faster. Not bad for a Friday afternoon.