Enjoy a blast from the past at Oakcreek Country Club in Sedona
Oakcreek Country Club in Sedona is like a pair of comfortable blue jeans in a tuxedo world. But if you still appreciate a classic Robert Trent Jones layout, you'll love this par-72 golf course. Just beware of the trees.
SEDONA, Ariz. -- Golf rarely sits still.
Club manufacturers launch new products every year, making that $500 driver you bought 10 months ago seem outdated.
Golf balls fly longer and straighter, with no spin, some spin or a lot of spin.
Course designers are on steroids: Determined not to let the advances in technology overwhelm their layouts, they've decided that bigger is better. It won't be long before the 8,000-yard course becomes a reality.
It's refreshing, then, to take a step back in time and play Oakcreek Country Club in Sedona. It's a blast from the past, a Robert Trent Jones and Robert Trent Jones Jr. design -- Senior did the back nine, Junior the front nine -- that was built in 1968 and still holds up today.
At Oakcreek Country Club, you won't encounter souped-up holes, blind shots or snooty attitudes. It's simplicity at its best: 6,824 yards of tree-lined fairways and slight doglegs that are reminiscent of golf in the Midwest.
"It fits into the old philosophy of, 'You should be able to see what you're facing,'" Head Professional Gabe Beronja said. "There's nothing tricky, no hidden hazards or things like that. To me, too many golf courses think they have to be tricky to hype things. This is a traditional design from another era. It's good to see every once in a while."
Oakcreek Country Club has no pretenses. There's no bag-drop area. Your clubs aren't cleaned by an eager employee after the round. You're given a cart key and told to pick one of the carts parked outside the clubhouse.
Some of that is economical: Beronja said the golf course has had to scale back on staffing. But it also fits the tableau that is Oakcreek Country Club.
"We're definitely not intended to be a resort-style golf course," Beronja said. "Our members are pretty self reliant."
Accuracy is key at Oakcreek Country Club
The golf course itself favors shot-makers over long bombers. Seven of the par 4s are 400 yards or less, and the doglegs discourage big swings off the tee.
So do the nearly 2,000 trees, by the way. With the exception of the par 3s, they come into play on every hole at Oakcreek Country Club. Spray a shot, and you're just as likely to be stymied by a tree as you are to have a clear shot back into the fairway or toward the green.
"Our trees do make a big difference," said Joe Mazza, a member since 1998.
The greens, meanwhile, roll fast and true but have huge breaks in them. And the members will tell you that putts always run away from the red rocks and toward the valley.
"You have to stay below the pin here," Mazza said. "Downhill putts can get you in a lot of trouble."
No hole on the golf course stands out among the others, although the 185-yard, par-3 fourth is considered Oakcreek Country Club's "signature hole" because of its elevated tee and green that is protected by two bunkers.
But that's part of the allure as well. Unlike Sedona Golf Resort, nearly 70 percent of rounds at Oakcreek Country Club are played by local folks. They don't care if the club lacks some of the amenities that are associated with high-end, resort-style golf. They simply want to play a quality course, and Oakcreek Country Club delivers.
"I'll see people in the clubhouse waiting to tee off, and we'll get to talking and they'll tell me they've played one or two of the other courses around here," Mazza said. "Then they'll play our course and say, 'Hell, if we knew about this we wouldn't have played those others.'
"There's just something solid about our golf course."
Oakcreek Country Club in Sedona: The verdict
If you want every golfing whim catered to, Oakcreek Country Club probably isn't your kind of place. It's a pair of comfortable blue jeans in a tuxedo world. But if you still appreciate a classic Robert Trent Jones layout, you'll love the par-72 course. Just beware of the trees. They're everywhere.
Lodging and dining in Sedona
The city of Sedona features several high-end resorts and lower-price hotels. Restaurants are plentiful as well. For good Italian family fare, check out Pago's, just a couple of miles down the road from Oakcreek Country Club. The pizza is terrific and owner C.J. Sells will take good care of you.
June 24, 2010