Flagstaff Northern Arizona

Pine Canyon Golf Club

Arizona Golf Courses — Pine Canyon Golf Club

Flagstaff is known for having some pretty awesome private clubs and this one, surrounded by Coconino National Forest, definitely ranks among the finest in the state. Pine Canyon was one of the last courses designed by Jay Morrish before his retirement. When you visit you’ll see he certainly saved some of his best for last.

Pine Canyon Golf Club’s tag line calls it the place “where upscale meets down to earth” and that is apropos for this facility that rests at about 7,000 feet of elevation with the impressive San Francisco Peaks providing a stunning backdrop.


Combine that with an award-winning clubhouse, soaring pine forests and aspen trees, seven ponds and lakes, numerous winding streams, generous fairways, six-to-10 tee boxes on each hole and lush bent-grass greens and you’ve got a truly memorable golf experience.

From the tips, it plays at 7,272 yards and is rated at 73.1 with a slope of 133. While it has plenty of challenges and hazards, especially from the back tees, Morrish made this a player-friendly layout with open landing areas in the fairways and open-entry greens like those found on links courses.

“It certainly isn’t Scotland, but I’ve always liked that type of golf where you can hit knockdown shots and run your ball up to the green,” Morrish said. “I think you need to give golfers options to play a variety of shots.”

There are so many good holes and postcard views at Pine Canyon, which opened in 2004, that it’s tough to pick a signature, but many would choose the 18th. The downhill dogleg par 4 plays at 487 yards from the tips to a green with a pond along the front and right side. A large lake stands behind the green with San Francisco Peaks in the background.

The entire back nine is a delight, starting with the 10th hole, a 435-yard par 4 that has a lake wrapping around the right side of the green, a creek cutting across in front, four bunkers surrounding the back and a fairway that slopes toward the water.

Hole 11 – Eagle’s Nest – Pine Canyon Golf Club, Flagstaff, Arizona

Next up is a 152-yard par 3 to a peninsula green, and then the 12th, named “High Five”, a risk-reward 548-yard par 5 with a long sweeping dogleg right where cutting the corner is tempting but only the longest of hitters dare try.

No. 16 also gets votes for “signature” honors. It is a 595-yard par 5 with a double dogleg, Dawson’s Creek running down the left side and a lake on the right with another stream cutting across the front of the green and wrapping around the left.

Once your last putt drops, you can actually fish for trout in the lake behind the 18th hole or you can head to the 19th hole, aptly named “Double or Nothing” to settle your final bets.

Along with its captivating course, Pine Canyon has an award-winning 35,000-square-foot clubhouse with gourmet dining, outdoor dining, whirlpools, a steam room, health and fitness facility and a full-service spa that offers manicures and massages.

Pine Canyon also has its own trail system and it’s just two miles to historic Walnut Canyon where Sinagua Indians built their dwellings into the cliff faces over 800 years ago; in 1915 it was declared a national monument. It’s worth the short drive to see the remnants of this remarkable feat.

Flagstaff Northern Arizona

Forest Highlands – Canyon Course

Forest Highlands Golf Club - No. 9

Arizona Golf Authority AZGA Buzz: There’s a good reason national magazines rank Forest Highlands’ Canyon Course as one of the best courses in Arizona every year. When it comes to top quality golf, it simply doesn’t get any better than the Canyon Course – and the club’s other course, Meadow, is northern Arizona ponderosa pine forest perfection as well.

The Canyon Course, designed by then-partners Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, was created in 1988 as part of a 1,100-acre enclave in the midst of majestic pine trees and groves of matures oaks and aspens in the cool forests of northern Arizona at 7,200-feet of elevation. As beautiful and serene as the Canyon’s setting is, it presented something of a design challenge, with Morrish fearing that the topography lent itself to too many driver-and-wedge par-4 holes, so he and Weiskopf folded, spindled and mutilated the lineup card and produced a revolutionary new batting order.

Far from the norm, they created a unique combination of six par-3 holes, five par-5s and seven par-4s; the back nine has three of each. The routing works so well that many golfers don’t notice that every other hole between the fourth and 14th is a par-3.

That all translates to a par-71 challenge, with four sets of tees at 7,007, 6,647, 6,225 and 5,004 yards. From the tips, it is rated at an over-par 72.6 with a stern slope of 139.

This course has hosted the U.S. Mid-Amateur and Junior Amateur, Canon Cup and numerous other USGA and Arizona Golf Association events.

Forest Highlands Golf Club - No. 4

Gorgeous canyon vistas, free-flowing streams and upwardly sweeping walls of Ponderosa pines frame the layout that is loaded with memorable holes, including the par-3 fourth, considered the signature hole, which plays across a lake at 182 yards with a second smaller pond, up at green level, guarding the front-left side of the green; the waterfall tells you it’s there. Two pine trees pinch access from the front-right of the green so the baby-draw the hole sets up for must be precisely flighted.

Our vote is cast for the ninth, though. The par-4 plays at 466 yards, starting on a wildflower-covered hillside, with a tee shot that hangs in the air for several seconds before landing in a low-lying meadow defined by a mountainside brook, which bisects the fairway near the landing area and spills into a pond along the right side of the green, part of a large green complex shared with the eighteenth. Your approach shot must carry the pond to the elevated green; bunkers right and left look appealing when compared to “short, in the pond”. Tricky green, stunning setting; fun golf hole.

Another standout par-3 is the 165-yard 14th, which offers no option except an accurate, full-carry over a lake protecting the front and complete right side of a deep, but quite narrow, green. Once on the dance floor, you will find an undulating putting surface that mimics the surface of an angry body of water, captured and reproduced in bent grass; you won’t find a flat putt here.

When it opened for play in 1988, the Canyon Course was ranked in second position by Golf Digest on their list of the best new golf courses in the country, just behind Shadow Glen in Kansas City, which also was also designed by Weiskopf and Morrish. That layout has faded from the rankings while Forest Highlands’ Canyon Course has stood the test of time.

Snagging a tee time is the tough part because this is an exclusive, equity club. Membership to both courses comes with property ownership, although in recent years, Forest Highlands has sold a limited number of “special memberships.” Each course has its own clubhouse and championship caliber practice facilities. The Canyon clubhouse presents an elegant, traditional look and serves as the gated community’s social center with fine dining, a lounge, locker rooms and administrative offices.

Read the Arizona Golf Authority AZGA Buzz for Forest Highlands’ Meadow Course.

Flagstaff Northern Arizona

Forest Highlands – Meadow Course

Arizona Golf Authority AZGA Buzz: Eleven years after Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf collaborated on the design of Forest Highland’s acclaimed Canyon Course, Weiskopf went solo in creating the Meadow Course, with the goal of maintaining its quality in a contrasting golf experience. No one disputes that he delivered.

Canyon still receives top billing and deservedly so, but Meadow has established itself as one of the Arizona’s best layouts, and has become equally popular with members of this exclusive equity club. Forest Highlands lies just south of Flagstaff and just north of Sedona, a sightseeing treasure with its magnificent red rock formations, and both courses in this community take full advantage of their surroundings. Canyon presents more traditional elegance, while Meadow is more sporty, setting on a higher piece of land and offering spectacular views of the San Francisco Peaks. It also has more water in play, about twice as many bunkers, larger greens, less dramatic elevation changes, sweeping meadows covered with native grasses and flora, and a more parkland feel with plenty of fun holes.

Overall, Meadow plays easier and is better suited to family outings and high-handicap players, while Canyon attracts the diehards and low handicappers. That’s what the club wanted – a course that would complement but not conflict with the first one — and that’s what Weiskopf gave them, although Meadow is no pushover by any stretch. The par-72 layout has five sets of tees that stretch to 7,358 yards from the tips (about 350 yards longer than Canyon) and is rated at 73.8 with a slope of 138.

Just like Canyon, there are several memorable holes on this course, starting with the eighth, a 176-yard par 3 with a lake that wraps around the front, left and back of the green and bunkers guarding the right side. It is called “Crosswind,” and if it plays up to that name, it is one tough shot to get close to the pin.

No. 14 is a monster par 5 at 603 yards from the tips with a lake running along the entire left side of the fairway, a pond guarding the right side of the green and the San Francisco Peaks providing an awesome backdrop.

One Weiskopf trademark is drivable par-4 holes and big hitters will find that at No. 15, a 311-yard par 4 with a sharp dogleg right, as long as they can cut the corner and clear the towering pines at the elbow. The 18th is an excellent finishing hole – a 575-yard uphill par 5 to a sliding green pinched by bunkers on both sides.

Membership to both courses comes with property ownership, although in recent years, Forest Highlands has sold a limited number of “special memberships.” Each course has its own clubhouse and other facilities. The Meadow clubhouse offers a more casual atmosphere along with a fitness facility, extensive practice facility, swimming pool and recreation center. Read our take on Forrest Highlands’ Canyon Course.

Flagstaff Northern Arizona

Flagstaff Ranch Golf Club

Flagstaff Northern Arizona

Continental Country Club

Arizona Golf Course Reviews: For public golfers seeking a place to tee it up in Flagstaff, Continental Country Club is the place to play. In fact, it is the only public course in that northern Arizona town. Formerly called Elden Hills, it is a scenic layout that isn’t particularly long at 6,014 yards, but its fast, small, undulating greens offer plenty of challenges. Nearby Elden Mountain is visible from pretty much every hole and the dramatic San Francisco Peaks in the background are visible from several.

Continential Country Club mountains in distance Flagstaff, Arizona
Continential Country Club in Flagstaff

Those mountains aren’t the only taste of nature that Continental golfers experience, not with a wildlife habitat nearby. Deer roam the property throughout the year and there are families of bald eagles, along with osprey, heron, geese and ducks that make their homes on an adjacent lake. In fact, Continental is listed nationally as a popular spot for bird-watching, with egret, stilt, gulls, warblers and red-tailed hawks among the vagrants during migration. One thing you probably won’t find at Continental is slow golfers. General manager John Malin said pace of play is a point of emphasis on the course and that shows on the scorecards, which advise golfers that they should complete each nine in two hours. They even show the time required to play each individual hole.

The scorecard offers a list of Tips for Faster Play, such as “Mark your scorecard at the next tee” and “Pick up and place your ball on the green once you have reached double par.” It also advises that course marshals “will have full discretion to help accomplish this pace” and that the unused portion of green fees will be refunded “should you choose not to abide by our pace of play policy.” Despite its snowy winters, Continental often is open for play during cold weather, and one of its most popular events is the “Polar Open,” which was played in 33 inches of snow in February, 2009, and drew 66 golfers.