SunRidge Canyon Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.6

Golf - Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 71
Fountain Hills, AZ
Website · Book A Tee Time
· Discounted Tee Times
Date Last Played: January 17, 2016

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SunRidge Canyon Review

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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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Gold 6,823 72.3 140
Blue 6,403 70.1 134
White 6,004 67.9 126
Red 5,212 70.1 128

Course Information

Course Architect:
Keith Foster
Greens Type:
Bermuda
Greens Condition
9.5
Greens Difficulty
9.0
Fairway Condition
9.2
Bunker Condition
8.7
GPS:
Yes
Walkable:
Very Hilly
Scorecard
Course Map
Beware of water on 2 holes and the 72 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
9.6 out of 10
Beauty:
10.0
Difficulty:
9.3
Variety:
10.0
Fun to Play:
10.0
Value:
9.0
Condition:
9.2
Front Nine Rating:
9.4
Back Nine Rating:
9.8
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FEES & AMENITIES

Approximate Weekend
Rates:
$95.00 to $199.00

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.

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Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking. 

 

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