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.

Mohave Valley Northern Arizona

El Rio Country Club

Arizona Golf Authority AZGA Golf Course Buzz: El Rio Country Club, located in Mohave Valley, is a daily-fee course opened in 2005 as the centerpiece of a housing development in the Colorado River basin, about 25 miles south of the gambling town of Laughlin, Nevada.

The desert-style layout was created by Matt Dye, the nephew of well-known designer Pete Dye, with the intention of creating an upscale facility in an area that experienced a growth boom at the turn of the century largely due to Laughlin’s rising popularity. Yes, some of the diabolical flair for which the older Dye is known is evident in the design but overall it is a player-friendly track.

The course features wide and gently rolling fairways, undulating greens and nice mountain backdrops with water coming into play on four holes. El Rio has four sets of tees with the longest at 7,115 yards and the shortest at 5,350. From the tips, it is rated at 72.9 with a slope of 123, and golfers who move up to shorter tees will find plenty of birdie opportunities if they avoid the transition areas, which are filled with granite and natural desert landscape.

The front-9 features a strong two-hole finish with a pair of par-4 water holes; No. 8 plays just a taunting 325 yards while the 448-yard 9th demands your long game. A lake at the eighth threatens the front, right and back of the green, and at the ninth, water lurks alongside the fairway and right side of the green.

El Rio Country Club’s signature hole is the 17th, a risk-reward par-5 of 542 yards with a sweeping dogleg left, a long, narrow bunker guarding the left side of the dogleg, a narrow lake running along the left for the final 200 yards and a pond on the back-right of the green, which has a pot bunker in front.

No. 18 is a solid finisher with a 438-yard par-4 that has two bunkers on the right side of the fairway, a lake running along the left side of the fairway and green and a bunker on the back-right.

Practice facilities are very good, including a driving range, putting and chipping greens and a greenside bunker. A Spanish, mission-style clubhouse includes a bar, patio and the Terrace Restaurant, which offers a full dining menu and is situated between the ninth and 18th greens with excellent views of the nearby Spirit Mountains.

The Arizona Golf Authority AZGA “Local Hang” for El Rio Country Club includes their elegant patio, as well as the complete menu of food, drink, fun and frolic available along Laughlin’s casino hotel row.

Read the Arizona Golf Course Directory AZGA Golf Course Buzz for every golf course in Arizona at

It’s “All Things Arizona Golf” from the Arizona Golf Authority.

Northern Arizona Pinetop

White Mountain Country Club

Arizona Golf Course List – Arizona Golf Authority Golf Course Guide

Arizona Golf Course List - White Mountain Country Club - Arizona Golf Authority
White Mountain Country Club

This is one of Arizona’s oldest and most treasured private country clubs with a rich history that operates on a seasonal basis from May through October. The golf course is built near the spectacular Mogollon Rim on property once owned by the U.S. Forest Service and leased by members when it opened as a nine-hole layout in 1956.

The second nine opened a year later and by 1967, the 1,800-acre parcel had been traded to the members. In exchange, the Forest Service received 16 acres of land near McNary for every acre it gave up.

The club becomes a second home for many private club members from the Phoenix area during the valley’s hot summer months and remained their No. 1 choice until Forest Highlands opened in Flagstaff in 1987. The original nine, which now is the back nine, was designed by Arizona golf legend Milt Coggins and developer Gray Madison. They, along with Arthur “Jack” Snyder, created the second nine.

White Mountain isn’t particularly long but demands accuracy to negotiate the thick pine forest lining most fairways. You’ll find five sets of tees, with the tips playing at 6,523 yards and the forward tees at 5,561. From the back tees, it is rated at 68.3 with a slope of 122.

The terrain is defined by rolling hills, rugged outcroppings of lava and malapai rock formations, excellent views of the largest stand of Ponderosa Pine in North America, and you’ll love the smooth bent-grass greens that can be nurtured in this climate. Constant elevation changes add to the character and there is no out of bounds. If you can find it on White Mountain, you can play it.

White Mountain starts off tamely but the fun starts at the fourth hole, a 414-yard par 4 with an uphill dogleg left over a lily pond. Three of the next four holes are excellent par 5s with plenty of variety, playing at 613, 503 and 527 yards.

The back nine, which is a little more open than the front, heats up at the 12th hole, a 178-yard par 3, followed by a short par 4 of 330 yards. Big hitters who dare cut the corner can drive the green, but plenty of trouble awaits those who try and fail.

The signature hole is the 18th, a 440-yard par 4 over water to a severely sloping green, where three-putting is the norm. That provides plenty of chuckles for other golfers relaxing on the spacious clubhouse patio.

White Mountain offers active, junior and social memberships, but all are by invitation only. While that might sound a bit stuffy, much of the club’s charm is its casual, laid-back approach to golf and life far from the trappings of a big city.

Visit our Arizona Golf Course Directory List and read the AZGA Player’s Review for every golf course in Arizona at

It’s “All Things Arizona Golf” from the Arizona Golf Authority.

Cornville Cottonwood Northern Arizona

Verde Santa Fe Golf Course

Arizona Golf Course List – Arizona Golf Authority Golf Course Guide

Even many local golf enthusiasts in Arizona haven’t heard of this place and that’s too bad because Verde Santa Fe offers up a fun and enjoyable day on the golf course with picturesque surroundings and reasonable rates.

Located about 90 minutes north of the Phoenix metro area, just 13 miles west of I-17, Verde Santa Fe is framed by the vast range of Black Hills with spectacular Mingus Mountain to the west and the captivating red rocks of Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon to the north.

The course is defined by lots of water, constant elevation changes and wonderful views at temperatures that sound heavenly to Phoenix area residents in the summer months.

Verde Santa Fe, the only design effort of Stanton McGaw, is situated at 3,800 feet above Phoenix, and nicely routed with Hogan’s Wash coming into play on three holes and several other natural arroyos providing additional challenges.

You’ll find nine water hazards on the course, in play on 11 holes, including a series of four lakes that separate the 10th and 18th holes. Verde Santa Fe has four sets of tees at 6,287, 5,895, 5,430 and 4,979 yards, with a rating of 69.3 and slope of 116 from the tips. It plays to par 71 with the back nine having three par-3 holes and two par 5s.

Length isn’t the primary issue here, evidenced by the fact that the par-5 holes measure 486, 549, 465 and 502 yards, and they play even shorter considering that the course is at altitude. The front nine ends with the longest hole on the course, a 549-yard par 5 that has a double dogleg with a wash running down the entire left side and sharp left turn from the end of the fairway to the green.

Most memorable are the adjacent 10th and 18th holes, with three small lakes separating the fairways and a larger lake between the two greens. Both are right doglegs with the par-4 10th playing at 354 yards and the par-5 18th at 502.

Verde Santa Fe has complete practice facilities and the Verde Grill serves up breakfast and lunch daily, plus dinner and live music on Friday nights. There are several nearby hotel choices that are affordable, including a Best Western, Budget Inn and Quality Inn. For those who have extra time, a side trip to historic Jerome and/or Sedona is time very well spent.

Visit our Arizona Golf Course Directory List and read the AZGA Player’s Review for every golf course in Arizona at

It’s “All Things Arizona Golf” from the Arizona Golf Authority.

Kingman Northern Arizona

Valle Vista Golf Course

AZGA Arizona Golf Buzz: Valle Vista, a semi-private course near Kingman, lies just off of historic Route 66 and offers a combination of playability and affordability set against the backdrop of the picturesque Hualapai Mountains.

Designed by Fred Bolton, the club welcomes public play, providing four sets of tees, ranging from 4,998 to 6,266 yards and plays at par 72. From the tips, it is rated at 68.7 with a slope of 117.

It opened in 1975 in the Valle Vista residential community, which is the newest of those along the historic travel route. Even without signs you will know when you’ve found it because of the curve in the highway that never seems to end.

From Truxton Wash Bridge, it continues for seven miles and the community boasts that it is the longest continuous curve on any U.S. highway. That would be apropos because the longest running stretch of Route 66 runs through Kingman, which celebrates the “Mother Road” with an annual “Fun Run,” during which hundreds of classic cars travel from Seligman to Topock.

Being a relatively short course, Valle Vista offers plenty of birdie opportunities for golfers who can avoid the hazards, including about 50 bunkers in play and water on nine holes. The par 5s in particular are ripe for picking at 490, 485, 505 and 485 yards from the tips.

Move up one set of tees and the longest hole becomes the 18th at 472 yards. The course starts strong with a par 4 of 378 yards and the par-3 seventh can be a handful at 200 yards with water in play.

Smallish greens place a premium on approach-shot accuracy. Valle Vista has full practice facilities with a driving range, putting green, chipping and sand bunker areas, and its clubhouse has a full bar and restaurant.

Kingman is an historic town, which began as a small camp settlement for railroad workers and was named after Lewis Kingman, who surveyed land along the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad right of way. Its population exploded when gold was discovered in the area in 1900, and the building of Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, which created Lake Mead, created another boost.

One of the great things about playing golf in this area is that there is a lot to see and do nearby after the final putt drops. Short day trips will take you north to Hoover Dam and on to Las Vegas, south to the London Bridge, now located in Lake Havasu City, AZ, or northeast to Arizona’s treasured Grand Canyon National Park.