Seven Canyons lies in a stunning setting on the central Arizona plateau in the middle of Sedona's red rock landscape where its location has been described by one commentator as “like playing classic golf in the basin of the Grand Canyon.”
Opened in 2003, Seven Canyons is one of the best new designs to have come out of the Copper State in recent years – and there have been plenty of very good ones to choose from – so credit to Tom Weiskopf for creating such a wonderful layout, despite the course having to compete for attention with its dramatic backdrop!
In actual fact, mention must also be made of Ken Kavanaugh, the Tuscon-based designer, who was the person actually responsible for the construction drawings for the course. New property developers stepped in when the project changed ownership to turn the site into a more up market residential complex, and Ken made way for the former Open Champion to complete the 18-hole layout.
It may be surrounded by tens of thousands of acres of protected landform in the shape of the Coconino National Forest and Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness but the property itself extends to only around 200 acres, which is a relatively small parcel of land when including real estate in a golf course routed over such tortuous terrain so again, well done to Messrs Kavanaugh and Weiskopf for keeping the fairways free from housing.
Sitting at 4,500 feet above sea level, with around another 300 feet in elevation change over its 6,746-yard length, the course plays to a par of 70. Big hitters will be forced to lay up a lot off the tees as many of the fairways have narrow landing areas. And with smallish greens placing a premium on accurate approach play, Seven Canyons is a course for shot-makers from start to finish.
Seven Canyons is an eye candy golf course. A Tom Weiskopf design, it is not long, a little bit constrained but it is fun.
The first hole is a short uphill welcoming par five. Favor the left off the tee to take the right fairway bunkers out of play. Good birdie oppty. It absolutely positively should not be the number 5 handicap hole. The 2nd contours left so favor right of center off the tee. The greenside bunker left is not user friendly. The 3rd is a right leaning long downhill par 4. A good aiming point is the left fairway bunker which is about 170 yards from the green. The 4th an uphill par five is the longest hole on the course. Play it as a three shotter. Off the tee be right of the left fairway bunker which should not come into play. Now is decision time, there is an arroyo that bisects the fairway. Laying up in front of the arroyo and the left bunker will leave you 190 yards out. Conversely, if you can carry the hazard you will be inside 150. Choose wisely. The 5th is a classic downhill par three. At least one club less, the vertical drop is less than 100 feet, but a fun hole regardless. The 6th is a demanding par four that bends left. There is a huge bunker on the right elbow and another large bunker in front of the green. Par here is a good score. The 7th is a good risk/reward hole. Driveable by the stoutest of the stout. It bends right with a water hazard on the inside of the right elbow. The green is protected by six bunkers. The 8th is a mid-length par three with a water carry and a green that has four bunkers and water front and left. The 9th is the longest par four and favor the left off the tee.
The back starts with a short par four. However, there is an arroyo about 100 yards in front of the green and two bunkers right. The 11th is the shortest, albeit, slightly uphill, hole and rates the easiest. The 12th is a short uphill and then downhill par four to a punchbowl green. Favor the left off the tee. The 13th is a classic Weiskopf driveable par four. The hole bends left to right and is begging you to go for it. If you layup play to the right side to take the bunkers out of play and give yourself a flip wedge. Good birdie hole. The 14th is a dogleg left reachable par 5. One must carry the arroyo to this elevated green. The 15th is a valley par four. Elevated tee, downhill to an elevated green. Favor the right off the tee and take an extra club on the approach. I hate the par 5 downhill dogleg left par 5 16th. I hit a good drive and for whatever reason, I thought it was a par four. I went for it, even though there is a creek in front of the green and limped away with a hard fought bogey instead of a no-pressure par. The last par four, 17th, has OB right and a pretty narrow fairway that contours left. Consider laying up and you will still have an attack iron on your approach. The 18th is an uphill 246 yard par three that is well-protected. Do not be embarrassed to hit your driver her.
Seven Canyons appears to be a polarizing course. I really enjoyed it and would heartily recommend it.
Good course, but has a number of blind shots. The scenery is as good as it gets. We played in May, 2019 was in very good shape. Greens were probably running about 10, any faster and these greens would be very difficult, unless you played there a a lot. I'd definitely go back and play it again!
A very scenic location with golf located on it. That's the summary of what Seven Canyons is about. The sum total of the holes is a fairly rudimentary design that doesn't strike the memorability meter in a lasting manner.
Tom Weiskopf's motif as an architect has been playability and Seven Canyons clearly provides that. But, the nature of the design leans more towards the pedestrian than the thought provoking. For Weiskopf devotees there's plenty in his design career that clearly has made a clear difference.
Seven Canyons includes the stock Weiskopf additions -- but it represents more of a copy than truly being something that's cutting edge. A pity.
M. James Ward