Review & Rating of SunRidge Canyon Golf Course in Fountain Hills Arizona
Wow, what a fantastic golf experience you’ll find at SunRidge Canyon just outside of Scottsdale. This is a course that you need to go way out of your way to play and some of the reasons why we can highly recommend SunRidge include:
- The conditions are near perfect
- The scenery and views of the mountains, desert, and homes is stunning
- The course is challenging and if you play smart, pay attention to the GPS hints, and use good course management and club selection you’ll have a very fun and good scoring round
- The green complexes are home to large undulating greens with smooth putting surfaces that are guarded by the desert, swales, mounds, and treacherous bunkers
- The layout is superb as the course winds through rugged ridges and shady canyons as it descends down over 300 feet for the front nine and back up for the last nine
- Each hole is unique and very different from the previous hole and several could be considered signature holes
- The facilities are first class and the service is excellent
SunRidge Canyon was designed by Keith Foster, who also designed The Colonial Country Club in Ft Worth, Bent Tree in Dallas, and The Quarry in San Antonio plus a lot of other well-known courses throughout the US. Instead of a grabbing a bulldozer, Foster leveraged the work that Mother Nature created over hundreds of thousands of years with the effects of wind, water, and tectonic pressure. As such during your round you’ll experience significant elevation changes, majestic vistas with the McDowell Mountains as the backdrop, lots of wildlife, washes and arroyos, and plenty of natural desert, boulders of all shapes and sizes, and a variety of fauna and cactus.
It just doesn’t get much better and it’s not surprising that GolfWeek named SunRidge Canyon as “one of the best you can play;” Golf Magazine lists it in the “Top 25 Courses in Arizona;” and Golf Advisor named SunRidge Canyon as “#4 in America.”
The front nine is your opportunity to score as the course winds it’s way down from the clubhouse with lots of elevation changes, some magnificent vistas and Kodak moments, beautiful homes dotting the hill side and overlooking the course, and some outstanding golf holes. Some holes that we really liked included:
- #5 is a fun 453 yard par 4 with a tight fairway that snakes it’s way down and right then left downhill toward a big (39 yards deep) green that slopes toward a bunker and gully
- #7 is only 373 yards but the elevated tee shot needs to carry the natural area and not let the fairway slope carry your ball off the fairway to the desert and that’s followed by an approach shot over deep wash/arroyo about 90 yards in front of the green which slopes back to front and is guarded by 3 big bunkers
- #9 is an excellent 551 yard par 5 with a tree on the right and a cluster of 3 bunkers on the left that make for a fairly tight tee shot over a wash and that’s followed by a dog leg left, another wash to carry at 124 out, and a green with 3 bunkers on the right and back side
The back nine at SunRidge Canyon is more challenging thanks to a climb back up the hill making the holes play much longer. And the back is also home to what is referred to as the “Wicked Six” – holes 13 through 18 that in addition to a steep climb back up to the club house for a well deserved beer will throw a lot at you including dog legs, severely sloping and contoured fairways, long forced carries, elevation changes, washes and arroyos to carry, and challenging green complexes. On this nine every hole is outstanding and deserves special mention, but our favorites included:
- #10 is a beautiful and fun 308 yard par 4 – you can go for the green but you need to carry a pond with 2 big bunkers, a wash cutting across the fairway and another bunker in front of the green or play safe but you'll need to miss a huge and smaller right bunker plus a small pot bunker splitting the fairway and the raised green is surrounded by 3 more bunkers
- #16 is a 533 yard par 5 with a wide landing zone that if you try to fly a tall mound and bunker you'll have a shorter 2nd shot over a wash leading to a landing zone with a severe uphill and blind shot over a hill to the green with 3 bunkers
- Both par 3s on the back are excellent – a 181 yard downhill shot to a green with a pond in front and along the right side and a slope on the left side that will kick the ball down and off the green and #17 is the signature hole with a 209 yard carry from an elevated tee box over a very deep and wide arroyo to a green that horseshoes around a big bunker
- And they saved the best for last – a stunning 432 yard par 4 that dog legs left around a couple huge bunkers and requires an accurate severe uphill shot over a wash to a green guarded by 5 bunkers – what a phenomenal way to end your round
The fairways at SunRidge Canyon are wide and sweeping, heavily contoured and sloping, and littered with bunkers. When we played they were in very good condition but a little thin in some areas. The rough is wide and was cut fairly thick but playable – miss the fairway and rough and you’re in the desert with the snakes, cacti, boulders, rocks, brush, and sand. You’ll encounter lots of washes and natural areas to carry both off the tee and crossing the fairway. The views are stunning and there are some huge beautiful homes sitting on the ridges overlooking the course. The course was designed to be fair for ladies and high handicappers and the front tees don’t have any forced carries.
The greens at SunRidge Canyon were redone in 2015 and they are still maturing – as such, they aren’t as soft as they will be and don’t yet hold the ball well. They were running very fast (12 or so) when we played and all the slope and contour made for some difficult putts. The greens are a variety of shapes, some are raised, and all are guarded by some combination of steep and deep bunkers, mounds, swales, or native area. SunRidge puts a premium on the approach shots and putting.
The bunkers are treacherous – most are huge, steep, and deep. The sand varied from very good (light and fluffy) to thin and gritty.
The clubhouse is outstanding with well done locker rooms, a grill with some good food, and a beautiful patio with a stunning view and a cascading waterfall running down the front of it.
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Service is excellent from the bag boys to the pro shop staff to the cart girls. The practice facilities are very good. The GPS is great with a clear picture, hole flyovers, and some very helpful hints.