Treasures to Be Found at Gold Canyon Golf Resort

By Maggie Edwards, Contributor

The Superstition Mountains are most noted for their ruggedness and tales of lost gold diggers. The Superstitions are east of Scottsdale and rapidly becoming the backdrop for golf courses.

The most notable and oldest resort is Gold Canyon, built in l981. It was all alone for many years, with Apache Junction being the nearest civilization. The developer built a full scale resort, complete with casitas, a restaurant and eventually two l8-hole golf courses. The setting is spectacular in the midst of saguaros, wildflowers and the Superstition Mountains in the background. The golf courses wind up and around. However, it bothers me greatly that they chose snow white for the color of these casitas. No, they do not blend into the desert.

The course I played was the Sidewinder Course, opened in l998, and a very short track for women, measuring all of 4529 yards. It was designed by Ken Kavanaugh, Stuart Penge and Greg Nash. I don't know who rated the course, but I could get on in two shots on 3 of the 4 par fives. The number one handicap hole is number six, a 359 yard par 5.

Because of the way the front nine snakes around the mountain, the views are very nice. However, interspersed are some junky areas that the resort obviously doesn't own that detract from the beauty. The horse stables are adjacent to the course, so we watched a mule train go by accompanied by some pungent smells.

The course has only two holes with water, but several with ravines. Of course, as is typical with the women's tee boxes, many of these ravines are taken out of play on the drive. It is necessary to tee off with an iron on several holes in order to lay up to the ravine.

The front side is basically enjoyable; however, the back is very uninteresting with the exception of 16, 17 and l8. They all have ravines to negotiate, plus beautiful views of the Superstitions. The l8th hole is the number two handicap and is easy to birdie, even with the ravine and elevated, blind green. The greens are tricky and are sometimes difficult to read.

The resort is a popular one, and offers all the amenities, including conference rooms and residential living for many retired people. The course I did not play, Dinosaur Mountain, is the one you should play if you want a challenge and magnificent views. It has been redesigned from its original layout and offers no comparison to the Sidewinder.

The greens fees for the Sidewinder Course vary from $35.00/$45.00 in the summer to $55.00/$65.00 in the heart of the season (January through March). The Dinosaur Mountain course is as high as $135 in the winter. You get what you pay for.

Maggie Edwards, Contributor

Edwards grew up in Glenwood Springs, Colo., playing golf and skiing, then moved many places, the most recent of which was Boston until landing in Phoenix. An 8 handicap, she likes to play competitively and hates to play slow.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Gold Canyon golf courses....

    Chuck Collet wrote on: Jan 31, 2006

    Anyone who hasn't played the two gold canyon golf courses (sidewinder and Dinosaur Mountain) since 1998, shouldn't be writing reviews about the property.. I live in British Columbia and think nothing of driving all the way to Phoenix and then Apache Junction to play what I believe to be two of the most interesting and challenging, as well as wonderfully manicured golf courses in the state of Arizona.. I've played almost every course in the "Valley of the Sun", and buck for buck, the Dino course at Golf Canyon will thrill anyone who likes desert target golf on the side of a steep mountain slope. Every hole on the "mountain course" is a different experience, one not soon forgotten.. Any golfer who finds themselves anywhere within a hundred miles would be missing out if they didn't give this wonderful track a try...