North/Central Arizona Summer Golf Plan
SEDONA, Ariz - It's the heart of the golf season in Tucson and Phoenix, what with temperatures hovering around 70 degrees, and greens fees hovering around $150. But in only one week, Major League Baseball will roll out Opening Day, and all eyes will turn towards the summer season.
Just as its never to early to start working on your fastball and change-up, it's never too early to start making some serious summer golfing plans in the Grand Canyon State. For diehard golfers with short arms and deep pockets, you can't beat some of the deals that Phoenix and Tucson area courses offer up in the summertime. Just think, for one low greens fee you can play these metro area's finest tracks, and fry eggs on the top of your golf cart.
But outside of these sprawling burgs lies, for lack of a more sophisticated term, the rest of the state. And while a majority of this territory is better suited for blowing up missiles than it is for firing birdies, northern Arizona brings something different - and more appealing - to the golfing table.
If planning a golf trip to an area of the country that you are totally unfamiliar with in terms of golf, geography, and grub, seems like a daunting task, chin up - here is one website's advice on a three Day trip through north/central Arizona that will take you from the Red Rocks of Sedona to Prescott's Whiskey Row.
Day One: Destination Flagstaff
If you fly into Phoenix International airport, hop a rental car and take I-17 north up to the mountain town of Flagstaff. Perhaps one of the most charming, most night-life endowed cities in the state, "Flag" (as the locals refer to it), lies at the base of the San Francisco Mountains in the shadow of 12,633 foot Humphrey's Peak.
Golf: Unfortunately, the selection of golf courses in Flag does not come anywhere close to the number of pubs, as the only course in this town of over 50,000 residents open to the public is the Elden Hills Golf Club. Forest Highlands, a GOLF Magazine Top 100 in the U.S. track, is only a five iron down the road, but is also as private as a Hugh Heffner pool party.
For what it is - which is essentially a muni course - Elden Hills (520-5277997) is a stellar little layout. The course plays to just over 6000 yards from the middle tees, and this at 7000 feet of elevation. Either take a chance from the tips, or simply pump your game and your ego up from the short porches. Elden Hills features plenty of elevation changes, and is a fun play, if nothing else.
Stay: A number of bed and breakfasts will present themselves to you in this quaint mountain town, but buck the trend and book a room at the Monte Vista - known locally as the Monte "V". Why? Four words: bars within walking distance. Sounds crazy, but up until a few years ago, downtown Flagstaff had more downtown bars than Phoenix or Tucson. Explanations range from college town (Northern Arizona University is just a sand wedge from downtown), to nothing else to do when there is five feet of snow on the ground.
The Monte V's rooms generally range from $30 up towards $80, and come complete with unlimited access to the coffee shop and hotel bar.
Eat:For dinner head across Route 66 to the Beaver Street Whistle Stop Brewery for homemade ales and wood fired pizza. For breakfast, Cathy's downtown serves up country cooking with a slight gourmet twist, and is a favorite among locals and visitors.
Day Two: Destination Sedona
Take Highway 89A south from Flag and get ready for a serious change of scenery and change of pace. Whereas Flagstaff feels more like an Alpine town in rural Colorado, Sedona has the look and feel of a Wild West Beverly Hills. Like any good deposit of affluent living, Sedona has the top shelf tracks to go along with its fancy shops, awesome red rocks, and chic southwestern feel.
One thing you won't find in Sedona: a total lack of urban structure. In sharp contrast to Flagstaff, which sports a nice little compact downtown complete with historic buildings and parallel parking, the town of Sedona is essentially one high-class strip mall after another.
Golf: Start the morning off with a tee time at the Oak Creek Canyon Country Club (520-2841660). Robert Trent Jones' traditional layout at Oak Creek is widely recognized among Arizona natives as one of the must plays in the northern part of the state. The course opened in 1967, but the way that Jones routed the front nine through the breathtaking red rocks of Oak Creek, you could swear that the course just came with the territory.
Catch some lunch at the turn, or in the clubhouse after your round at Oak Creek, because your afternoon tee time awaits at the Sedona Golf Resort. A Gary Panks designed resort course, the layout at Sedona Golf Resort was built with two goals in mind: number one, blow away guests with amazing views of the red rocks, and number two, present players with a fun layout that will keep them coming back.
In true resort course fashion, Pank's jewel will do nothing if not make you feel good about your game. The majority of holes on the back nine are downhill, and at over 5000 feet of elevation, your drives should hang up in the desert air like a poorly thrown curveball.
Stay: The Sedona Golf Resort (520-2849355) is a great place to stay for the sake of convenience, but there are also a number of bed and breakfasts located within proximity to either course. If you want to bed down in Oak Creek, try the Adobe Hacienda B & B (18004547191) in the Village of Oak Creek - rooms range from $140 to $160 per night. If you want to stay near the Sedona Golf Resort and prefer something cozy, check out the Canyon Villa Inn (520) 284-1226. Widely recognized as the premier B&B in Sedona, Canyon Villa has some of the best views of the surrounding Red Rocks in the entire city.
Eat: For Mexican food that will take you to the border in mind, sprit, and trips to the bathroom the next morning, hunker down at the Cowboy Club (520-282-4200) or Marias Restaurant (520-284-3739) in Oak Creek.
Day Three: Destination Prescott
Strike out early in the morning, head south on Highway 89A and shed the pretentious Sedona attitude for the cowboy western charms of Prescott. Bearing more of a likeness to Flagstaff, this former territorial capital of Arizona boasts a great little downtown, complete with the (in)famous Whiskey Row - a series of rustic cowboy bars where the whisky flows until the rooster crows. Unlike Flagstaff, however, Prescott sets up with a number of golfing opportunities.
Golf: First off, there is more golf in Prescott than you can play in two Days, much less one, so here are two options. Option one is to head out to Antelope Hills, another immaculately conditioned north/central Arizona layout that features 36 holes of golf - the North course has been recognized as one of the top public facilities in the state, and the South course is another must play Gary Panks design.
Option two is to play 18 holes at Antelope Hills, and then head to the Prescott Country Club (520-772-8984) or the Hassayampa Golf Club (520-445-0009) for your afternoon round. The key to deciding which of these afternoon courses to strike out on is deciding where your priorities lie. If you place a premium on value, the Prescott Country Club can't be beat, with greens fees usually weighing in at less than $30 per round.
If it's a top shelf track you seek, regardless of cost, then Tom Weiskopf's Hassayampa course is the way to go. But if you want to play at the later, you better bring your negotiating skills, or just happen to know one of the members ... Hassayampa has always been slated to be a private course.
Stay: Prescott offers up both historic hotel rooms, along the lines of Flag's Monte V, and some of the best B & B's in the state. To sack out in the former, and enjoy the charms of downtown and the inevitable trip to Whiskey Row, stay at the Hassayampa Inn (800-322-1927), or get away from it all at Prescott Pines Inn B & B (1-800-541-5374).
Eat: Staying downtown? Simply take to the streets and call your own shots - be it cowboy sized steaks, or pasta, you'll find it downtown. Just make sure to eat a square meal before heading off to meet Mr. Daniels and Mr. Beam.
July 14, 2001