Essential Golf: A passion for the Game

Panoramic Adventures in Arizona & New Mexico


Arizona, the sixth-largest state in the U.S., offers great golf adventures, as well as some high heat come mid-summer (July, 2019, saw temperatures in Phoenix soar to 115)—so cover up and apply the sunscreen!

Situated in northern Arizona, the Hilton-owned Sedona Golf Resort at Bell Rock, Sedona, is another highly rated design. The Gary Panks-designed 6,646-yard course has a majestic backdrop of the famous red and orange sandstone and limestone mountains. The resort offers stay-and-play packages from $319.

What is considered the premier public course in the region is at The Oakland Country Club and promoted engagingly as “Arizona’s Best Overall Golf Experience—Year Round, where guests are treated like members, and members are treated like guests.” If it sounds good, it is; for here is a superb championship course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and son RTJ Jr. Situated among Sedona’s red rocks, it’s attractive to players of all levels, having five sets of tees ranging from 4,419 to 6,824 yards In the style Trent Jones often favored, the fairways are classic tree-lined doglegs with fairway bunkers strategically placed in the landing areas and greens slightly elevated and surrounded with large swirling bunkers.

Oakcreek Country Club opened for play in 1968 as a nine-hole course with the second nine completed in 1971. Although Oakcreek Country Club is open to the public, the club also has about 300 active members, making it popular not only for golf but also for fine dining and sports bar. Oakcreek currently has discounted golf packages available for stay-and-play deals, with, for example, five rounds of golf within a week for $300.

New Mexico

Every which way, the city of Santa Fe lives up to its tagline “The City Different.” Indeed the city offers visitors a kaleidoscope of attractions that has led to a bunch of awards including “No.2 City in the U.S.” (Condé Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Award). Along with a vibrant arts scene, the city packs plenty of outdoor adventure attractions including, to mention just a few: equestrian, skiing (late fall through early spring), wine tours, biking, road trips and of course golf.

Top of the must-play list is Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe, just eight miles west of downtown. This is Santa Fe’s finest municipal golf course, a legendary course in high-end country club condition, and with 360-degree views of the mountains. The championship 18-hole design is par 72 playing 7,272 yards from the back tees and 5,025 yards from the front tees; therefore it’s a challenge for low handicaps yet it’s fair for higher handicaps. What’s not to enjoy?

This article first appeared in the PGA TOUR December 2019-May 2020 issue, which can be read here.

See also: Take a Vacation in Arizona and Play Golf
Take a Golf Break in Mississippi
There’s No Place Like Santa Fe for Golf