Have a Ball at SunRidge CanyonBy Michael K. Wong • Oct 30th, 2008
It is early Sunday morning, the temperature is in the low 80’s in early August and the starter at SunRidge Canyon Golf Club in Fountain Hills cheerfully waves us onto the first tee box. I am looking forward to playing this picturesque Keith Foster desert layout – can you believe it’s been 13 years since I last played SunRidge Canyon? I was there for its debut in the desert in 1995.
The course was challenging back then and today nothing has changed (more on that later). I remember SunRidge Canyon as being naturally magnificent. Your round will take you from the upper part of the canyon on the front nine all the way to its floor then you work your way back up through the canyon with spectacular views of nearby peaks and mountains. Bring a camera—especially if you play SunRidge Canyon in the winter. You’ll make your family and friends envious when they see you smiling in short sleeves sometime between December and March basking in the Arizona sun. THEY might be bundled up shoveling snow and listening to the latest weather reports in their hometowns! You’ll pose on the green or elevated tee box with a majestic mountainous backdrop seemingly enjoying temperatures in the high 60’s. You might snap a shot on one of the lush deep green-colored fairways or you might even take a few steps into the desert and stand next to a stately saguaro.
Course architect Keith Foster deftly crafted this layout along rocky ridges, leaving alone natural washes and sloping terrain which all comes into play. The footprint of Foster’s masterpiece shows no parallel fairways. Each hole is isolated from the next and leads you through a four-hour exploration of this ruggedly spectacular section of the Sonoran Desert.
SunRidge Canyon plays just over 6800 yards from the tips and par is 71. But the back nine plays uphill so add another 300 or so yards to the distance. “Take one-to-two extra clubs on those holes,” says head golf pro Jeff Newell. “And if the pin is in the front of the green, play it as though it were in the back so give yourself another five yards.”
Not only do you need to know when to “club up,” you also need to know when to “re-stock.” I knew this would be a challenging course for my consistently long, but errant shots, so I brought extra balls. And it’s a good thing that I did too. On this day, my playing partner George lost eleven balls going out and I lost nine. Altogether, we left 25 balls in the desert. Play smart, don’t swing too hard and by all means, keep it straight!
SunRidge Canyon’s signature hole is the par three number 17. You will make an easy hike up to the tee box and hit off of an elevated tee and over a 50-foot-deep, 100-yard-wide box canyon to a horseshoe-shaped undulating green. Tricky and challenging? You bet! Splendid beauty? Start clicking away!
“The views and scenery are what makes this Scottsdale golf course special,” says Newell. “There will be elevation changes, indigenous plants and wildlife throughout your round. This course is definitely one to check out.”
And I will not wait another 13 years to check it out again. I’ll be back soon– having a ball and I’m sure depositing balls at SunRidge Canyon.
A few of the holes have mature trees near the tee box, a nice respite from the blazing sun. However, when you’re on the fairway you’ll be exposed to the rays. So bring protection—sun screen, a hat and of course, stay hydrated by taking advantage of the beverage cart.
- Golf Magazine ranks SunRidge Canyon #42 in The Top 100 public courses in the United States.
- From November to April, expect to see wedding parties in and around the 18,000 square foot Spanish hacienda style clubhouse. SunRidge Canyon hosts about two weddings a week during this time.
- During play, you might catch a glimpse of the 560-foot fountain just a few miles away. It is the tallest in the world and is located at a park in a nearby master planned community.
- Fountain Hills is a town of about 25,000 people and is located about 30 minutes northeast of Phoenix and 20 minutes from Scottsdale.
- You can golf in the day and hit the casino at night. The Fort McDowell Casino is about 10 minutes away from SunRidge Canyon. There are many Arizona golf resorts within 15 minutes of this Arizona golf course.
Five Things You Might Overhear at SunRidge Canyon
- Is that a bobcat or a cougar?
- This isn’t my ball, but I found another!
- Hold on a second. Let me take a picture!
- I hope it ricocheted off that boulder and into the fairway!
- I wouldn’t mind living here!