Seven Canyons: Tales of the ‘Ole West

If  Zane Grey, the prolific writer of Old West novels, had played golf he would have been a member at Seven Canyons.

“I never understood anything of the meaning of nature until I lived among these looming stone walls and whispering pines,” Grey penned.

Beware all who come here for a round of golf. You will see the beauty and the mystic power of Sedona — Tom Weiskopf certainly did when he came here to sculpt a beauty that opened in 2003.

On June 1, 2018, Weiskopf came back to Seven Canyons. He’s standing on the elevated, pedestal No. 4 tee box, a par-3, 175-yard downhill beauty. Seven Canyons is rededicating the tee complete with new landscaping and steps.

He’s admiring the panorama of red-rock spires, the contrast of greens in the junipers and piñons and the cerulean blue of an untarnished Arizona sky. To his left is the rounded ochre features of Rachel’s Knoll, 80 feet below is a contoured A4 bent grass putting surface surrounded by six hellish bunkers.

It has been 15 years since Weiskopf put together this beautiful golf course. There have been financial ups and downs, but he returned to treat members with a “fireside chat” and discuss the future and past of Seven Canyons and his design philosophies.

“That was a great opportunity to spend time with Mr. Weiskopf talking about his design philosophy and how the terrain influences his thinking about a hole,” said Dave Bisbee, General Manager and Director of Golf.

When it first opened Seven Canyons was a pristine private golf experience. Areas leading to the putting surfaces were shaved and punishing. You had to pay attention.

“We are trying to recapture some of those original Weiskopf design thoughts,” Bisbee continued. “But the spectacular views are still stunning and the setting is unmatched. Players who love strategic risk-reward options will enjoy this challenge and each hole has significant personalities.”

Bisbee is a perfect spokesman for Seven Canyons. He is known for his inspirational innovation, extraordinary leadership and experience. As a golf pro, he has won as a tournament professional, designed golf clubs, authored several books and instructional DVD’s, as well as instructed many of today’s top corporate executives on how to improve their golf games.

The Golf Course

Weiskopf’s vision for this rubberneckers’ experience of scenery and golf was traditional. But at 6,746 yards and a par of 70 the criticism reared its head swiftly. “You can’t build a course under 7,000 yards today,” the critics chimed.

His response? Nonsense. The 1973 British Open champ recited a list of Top 10 courses that are under 7,000 yards — Pine Valley, Pebble Beach, Olympic Club, Merion and Shinnecock Hills. Augusta National was 6,850 until its attempt at Tiger-proofing.

“Unparalleled views,” Weiskopf has said emphatically. “From sunrise to sunset the colors change and every minute is different and incredible.”

What Weiskopf wanted for Seven Canyons was a true test of golf that Donald Ross, Alister MacKenzie and C.B. Macdonald would have enjoyed. He wanted a layout that put a premium on shot placement to narrow landing areas. He wanted small, quick greens with classic-styled bunkering and changes in elevation. He wanted a thought-provoking process.

The difficulty is being strategically efficient with some of the world’s most distracting scenery. And the real-time difficulty is being able to concentrate enough to read the correct approach to each green.

Weiskopf said there are multiple choices — low, run-up shots can work on the same approach where a soft, high drop shot can be a winner. But this is much easier said and done by a world-class golfer with the sweetest swing golf has known (Weiskopf) than by a club member with an 18 handicap.

Seven Canyons is manageable from the tee to green, but avoiding three putts or even four is the real challenge for an average player.

Observe the drainage patterns, Weiskopf recommended. Watch for swells in the land. Geez, all this concentration when you are playing golf in one of the most spectacular scenic locations on earth? Just enjoy the views and forget about your score.

Have folks been impressed? One writer called it IMAX of golf. Surely, Seven Canyons will be a model of golf in heaven.

Where to Stay: Enchantment Resort

Seven Canyons is private but you can schedule a tee time by headquartering your Sedona vacation with a stay at the opulent, earthy Enchantment Resort.

It’s hard to get a bad view here and my large casita included huge kitchen and living room with sliding glass doors leading to a porch or balcony and the bedroom and bath were in another sealed off part of the casita.

Enchantment Resort pays tribute to those who lived here first, with a Native American Program unlike any other hotel in the region. Guests enjoy exploring the hiking trails and ancient ruins amidst the Secret Mountain Wilderness as a pleasant contrast to the beauty of the resort’s pool and spa.

Pick Tii Gavo or Che Ah Chi for upscale dining and there’s a view from every table. Log on to www.enchantmentresort.com to make a reservation.

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