Sedona Golf Resort: Camera may distract your golf game

By David R. Holland, Contributor

SEDONA, Ariz. -- They say Zane Grey wrote here, amongst the inspiring red-rock formations, and after fishing trips through dazzling Oak Creek Canyon. Early settler Frank Pendley engineered an irrigation system and grew apples and pears he sold from Phoenix to Los Angeles.

Sedona Golf Resort - hole 10
The par-3, 210-yard 10th is the signature hole at Sedona Golf Resort. It's one of the most photographed holes in Arizona.
Sedona Golf Resort - hole 10Sedona Golf Resort - clubhouse
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In the sizzling summer heat of Phoenix and Tucson, Sedona can be up to 15 degrees cooler. Sedona is also at the perfect elevation to keep the snow away except for a few days a year, meaning almost year-round golf. The course's elevation ranges from 4,000-4,350 feet.

18 Holes | Resort golf course | Par: 71 | 6646 yards | ... details »

And John Benzel envisioned a golf course -- Sedona Golf Resort.

Sedona draws 5 million visitors a year. It's a funky combination of nature worshipers, the holistic, writers, musicians, artists - and tourist golfers. Camping, hiking, photography and 4-wheel-drive enthusiasts also visit the area for recreation. Geology and archaeology buffs can have a field day unmatched.

"The tourists seem to make a loop," said Director of Golf John Benzel, who was the instrumental force in Sedona Golf Resort's birth in 1988. "They travel to Phoenix, Sedona, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas."

In the sizzling summer heat of Phoenix and Tucson, Sedona is 12 to 15 degrees cooler. And even though Flagstaff, with its higher elevation and mountain-cold winters is only 27 miles away, Sedona is at the right elevation to keep the snow away except for a few days a year.

"The first tee is at 4,050 feet and the highest point on the course is 4,350," said Benzel, who shares the course record of 65. "We are a high-desert golf course with those kind of undulations and topography. Each hole stands on its on - you are never too close to other golfers and the vegetation and trees are beautiful."

So what about the growth of golf in Sedona? "We are in a non-growth area," Benzel said. "There aren't any parcels big enough for any more golf courses. We draw golfers from all over the world, but the working residents - the merchants, artists and real estate sales people aren't golfers."

When Gary Panks designed this 6,640-yard, par-71 golf course it was immediately recognized by Golf Magazine and Golf Digest as one of the best new courses in the U.S. It's blue rating is 70.3 and the slope is 129. There are five tee selections, with the shortest measuring 5,059 yards.

The No. 1 handicap hole is No. 5, a 623-yard par-5. Is that long enough for you big swingers? Oh, yeah, it's uphill, too. Out of bounds is left, so hit it down the right side and when you get within view of the green aim for the right flag - the left flag is part of a double green, shared with No. 8.

You are at the highest point on the golf course at the par-3, 210-yard No. 10. It's one of the most photographed holes in Arizona. This is the signature hole and don't be surprised if you yank it left and up in the hills, to see your ball bounce back down by the green.

The 13th has a lake in play on the left side of this par-4, 394-yarder. The par-4, 417-yard No. 16 also has water on the right and a two-tiered green. No. 16 is 155 yards downhill to a green that is heavily bunkered with a lake on the right.

Finish up at the 18th with a gambling hole. It's only 336 yards downhill, a par-4, but if you go with the big dog, hoping to drive this hole, and you hit a turbo mallard as David Feherty says, you could be in the lake or a huge bunker. A safe play for big hitters would be a 3-iron off the tee.

"Any course would be beautiful in Sedona, and this one is no exception," golfer Jim Barnes said. "It is in a convenient location on the main road coming into town and we were able to find it and check in after about the 2-hour drive from Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. Nice facility, good course condition, and wide enough fairways to allow the driver to come into play."

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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