Introduction to Flagstaff
In this post we’re going to explore the best golf courses in Flagstaff, the largest city in northern Arizona.
Approximately two and a half hours drive north of Phoenix, Flagstaff is a magnificent place to visit. The drive will gradually take you up to an elevation of over 7,000 feet, in the heart of the world’s largest Ponderosa pine forest.
This is without doubt an outdoor enthusiast’s heaven, with the city surrounded by the great outdoors. There are a number of national parks, mountains, meteorite craters, lakes, you name it. You’re also just 80 miles from the Grand Canyon National Park.
As for the city, it has a small town vibe with a historic downtown. There are fantastic shops, bars, restaurants, with everything within walking distance. Flagstaff is a winner.
But we’re here for one thing and that is to explore the best golf courses in Flagstaff. There aren’t loads to choose from, but what it lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality. Just be aware, most of these courses are private, with only one, Continental Golf Club, open to the public.
See also: What are the best golf courses in Arizona?
The best golf courses in Flagstaff, Arizona
Forest Highlands Golf Club (Canyon & Meadow)
We kick off this list of golf courses in Flagstaff with the superb Forest Highlands Golf Club. This luxury private golf community to the south of the city really has it all with a large engaged membership.
The club is located about a twenty minute drive south of Flagstaff, past the airport and into the Kachina Wetlands Preserve. The location is pure bliss, with serene lakes and a constant background of elegant pines.
There are two award-winning championship golf courses within the vast 1,100 acre plot, the Meadow and the Canyon.
The Canyon Course came first, opening for play in 1988, a year after the club was founded. It was designed by two of the great architects of the game, Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish.
There is no doubt, this has to be one of their finest creations. The Canyon course is simply divine, a treat for the eyes and a wonderful challenge of golf.
The routing starts off gently but really starts to come alive as you encounter some of the Canyon holes around the 8th. This is a stunning stretch with vast elevation changes and breathtaking scenery.
The Meadow Course is yet another pearl and came to life some ten years or so after the Canyon Course opened. It was again designed by Tom Weiskopf and like the Canyon Course, has been littered with praise.
This time though, as the name suggests the routing is set across the lower plains. An easily walkable course, ten holes make their way through a vast meadow and wetland area.
The layout is generally a lot more open although it is some 100 yards longer than its sister course from the back tees. The Meadow measures 7,200 yards whilst the Canyon comes in at around 7,100 yards.
So good are the courses at Forest Canyon, the Canyon course is considered by many as being the best golf course in Arizona. Whilst the Meadow Course is certainly up there in the top 10 or 20.
If you do manage to get a round here, you’re in for a treat whichever course you end up playing.
Pine Canyon Golf Club
Yet again on this list, we have another outstanding luxury residential golf community. Pine Canyon offers members the opportunity to create luxury mountain retreats whilst boasting several high class amenities.
The club is just to the south of Flagstaff, yet still mere minutes from the town center. That really is one of the great things about Flagstaff, nothing is ever too far away. Yet this location is pure bliss, surrounded by the mature Ponderosa pines and with views out towards the San Francisco Peaks.
The championship layout was designed by Jay Morrish and is yet another wonderful golf course in Flagstaff. There are wide sweeping fairways cutting through the dense pine woodland.
The topography is naturally hilly, so there are many elevation changes built into the routing. And water comes into play on numerous occasions, like on the 11th hole named the ‘Eagle’s Nest’. A downhill par 3 where anything long, left or short will end up in the drink!
There are also plenty of risk and reward situations, like for example the 4th hole. Named ‘Split Decision’, this par 5 has a patch of trees short of the green but offers a channel through which big hitters can reach the green in two. Sadly many of us mere mortals will inevitably have to trudge the long way round.
Morrish has excelled in designing Pine Canyon and it comes as no surprise this is one of the highest rated courses in the region.
Flagstaff Ranch Golf Club
As we move on, we come across yet another private residential golf community. This is Flagstaff Ranch Golf Club, located just a few miles to the west of the city.
The club was founded in 2003 and prides itself on providing a relaxed and family-friendly environment for its membership.
Aside from the golf, there is the impressive clubhouse with its dark wooden beams and rustic character. The large community center offers a first-rate Fitness Center, various classes, a pool, tennis and pickleballs courts and plenty more.
But clearly it is the golf course which gets the plaudits and one which has received a fair amount of praise. Foremost amongst the recognition is the fact it is ranked within Arizona’s Top 50 golf courses.
The course was designed by Jerry Pate, a past winner of the U.S. Open. And no doubt he couldn’t have been more pleased with the canvas he inherited. If you were asked to picture a stereotypical woodland mountain course, Flagstaff Ranch would surely be what you imagine.
Generous and immaculate fairways are gracefully routed through the majestic Ponderosa pines. Amongst sculpted bunkers with large rolling greens are some interesting elevation changes which offer up some outstanding vistas.
Continental Golf Club
And finally to break the mold, we have the unsung and fun to play Continental Golf Club.
This is not part of a luxury private golf community. Quite the opposite. Continental Golf Club, previously known as Elden Hills Golf Course, is open to the public and proudly so.
The club is located to the east of the city, in the foothills of Mount Elden. It is also one of the first to have arrived in the region, having opened for play in 1960. It was designed by Bob E. Baldock whose architectural career kept him primarily on the west coast throughout the sixties.
The course has two relatively distinct nines, with the front nine far more open with plenty of water in play. Whilst the back nine meanders through dense native pine woodland. It is also on the back nine where you encounter a fair amount of undulation.
Continental Golf Club is great fun to play, but it is very short for today’s game. From the back tees the course measures just over 6,000 yards, so maybe not one for very low handicappers.
That said, if you’re looking for something relaxed and unpretentious, whilst also not paying an arm and a leg to get on, look no further.
Aspen Valley Golf Club
And last on our list, but by no means the least, is Aspen Valley Golf Club. Again just to the east of the city, Aspen Valley Golf Club literally rubs shoulders with Continental Golf Club.
Being in the plains at the base of Mount Elden, it shares the same magnificent topography. And clearly, it shares the same mouth-watering views across to the San Francisco Peaks.
In fact, Aspen Valley even shares a notable history with Continental Golf Club. Back in 1973, the two courses were built together to be part of an ambitious 36-hole project. However, due to various difficulties, the project was halted and an offer was made to the residents of Elden Hills. Stump up the cash and they could purchase one of the courses to be converted into a private club.
This eventually happened in 1993 and since then Aspen Valley Golf Club started its new life.
This is a fantastic course with a relatively traditional layout built around the Rio De Flag river. The course was initially designed with no housing in mind, so there were no compromises when finding the best routing.
As to be expected in Flagstaff, a number of holes cut their way through the mature pine forest. But these holes are contrasted by a similar number which play through the meadows and wetlands. It is here you will find ample water in play.
This is a fine challenge which is hugely playable. Yet again though, befriending a member is your only chance of teeing it up at the wonderful Aspen Valley Golf Club.
What is the best golf course in Flagstaff, Arizona?
The best golf course in Flagstaff, Arizona, is the Canyon Course at Forest Highlands Golf Club. The Canyon Course was designed by Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf and opened for play in 1988. This private course is consistently ranked as one of the best golf courses in Arizona.