A Stunning Arizona Golf Course

“Stunning” is a word perhaps used too often when describing golf courses, but according to one of its designers, Keith Foster, it fits SunRidge Canyon Golf Club to a tee.

Its rugged setting, deep within rock-faced canyons and weather-worn ravines, provides an elegant contrast to the manicured playing surfaces contained therein.

Together with the famous Arizona “go-on-forever” sweeping mountain vistas which reveal themselves throughout the round, SunRidge Canyon is a day well spent, no matter what your scorecard totals.

Constructed in 1995, SunRidge Canyon was purchased in December 2010 by part-time Fountain Hills residents Don and Cindy Misheff. Their local, hands-on stewardship keeps SunRidge Canyon on the leading edge of the premier daily-fee “member for a day” golf club offerings available in the metro area – its Fountain Hills location makes it convenient too.

Designed by Keith Foster, a devout minimalist before it was popular, SunRidge Canyon displays all the best features the philosophy “less is more” offers.

Instead of a grabbing a bulldozer, Foster laid his work on the canvas Mother Nature provided, relying on the magical effects her wind, water and relentless tectonic pressure worked on the picturesque McDowell Mountains. What she and her disciple created is a par-71 layout that tips out at 6,823 yards from the back tees; 5,193 from the front.

Before you let that yardage start you salivating, be advised: level lies in fairways will be few and straight, flat putts won’t be found.

Your SunRidge journey begins at the high end of one of its rugged canyons and gradually descends through the front nine, offering excellent views of Four Peaks and the Mazatzal Mountains to the east. As you make the turn, you begin a gradual climb to a thrilling string of finishing holes, dubbed the “Wicked Six”, that are among the best golf experiences in Arizona – for players and photographers alike.

We say the highlights of the front nine are the first and the seventh – both reward elegance over brawn. The first, a 318-yard par-4, let’s you pair two comfortable clubs for your first two shots of the day: fairway metal and wedge, five iron and seven iron, driver and putter. Any two solid, accurate shots will do.

At the picturesque, par-4 seventh, 373 yards requires the same artful pairing of tee ball and second shot clubs, although driver and putter won’t be an option.

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The entire backside is an uphill thrill-ride that doesn’t end until you reach the clubhouse. Each shot authored during your trip through the “Wicked Six” demands your careful consideration of risk exposure and potential reward.

These six holes at SunRidge Canyon are not tyrants, but rather the perfect opportunity for a player to test their ability to pick a shot and execute it.

Fairways are generous, with clearly defined landing areas, and modest forced-carries over natural desert arroyos are quite manageable – when planned for. Not so much when one chooses to believe this will be the one time out of fifty they will successfully execute their “career” shot.

Particularly entertaining are the 14th hole and the finisher. At the par-3 14th, visual intimidation is the enemy. Your challenge is to fly, bounce or run your tee ball 181 yards to the center of the green from an elevated tee. Ignore the front, left bunker and the glistening lake that wraps the entire right side of the green and you’ll be fine.

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The finishing hole is pure golf and includes one last test of your ability to judge a golf shot – playing 432 yards, uphill, it’s a handful for most.

Following a solid tee shot, pay strict attention to what’s staring you in the face: an uphill second to a front-bunkered green complex perched above a natural desert arroyo, that most days plays directly into the prevailing breeze.

Here’s the bottom line regarding club selection for the shot: add two clubs, minimum.  It’s a whole lot more fun to finish your round saving par from behind this green than making six from short of it. For those that missed their tee shot a bit: lay-up short of the arroyo – it’s a manageable up and in from there.

SunRidge Canyon’s practice facilities are first rate and feature the Jim McClean Golf School onsite. Expert club fitters from Hot Stix are here as well so any student of the game will find everything they’re looking for in one spot.

AZGA “Local Hang” SunRidge Canyon Golf Club –
sunridge-canyon-golf-patio-four-peaksGreat news – When the last putt drops, you’ll find your golf cart is literally parked next to the Wicked Six Bar & Grill. Rest assured, regardless of what scores you’ve posted so far, everyone cards a few birdies here.

You’ll find a full compliment of food and libation options that play right through the bag – from breakfast and lunch, through post-round drinks and apps, to an entertaining, full evening dining experience. An engaging staff delivers “expressive” dishes, in both taste and presentation, that amps up the great golf experience you’ve just enjoyed.

SunRidge Canyon’s indoor-outdoor patio facilities remain unrivaled as the place to savor the day’s fun amid striking views of the golf course and the locale’s namesake mountain, Four Peaks, in the distance.

This review originally appeared on Arizona Golf Authority. Read the Golf Course Review for every golf course in Arizona at www.arizonagolfauthority.com/coursedirectory.
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