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Arizona Gem

A rollicking refutation of the idea that great golf in Arizona's high country means stratospheric greens fees, StoneRidge Golf Course is a smile-inducing Randy Heckenkemper design in Prescott Valley amid the Bradshaw Mountains ninety minutes north of Phoenix. This 7,052-yard desert-mountain hybrid is buttressed by pi–on pine, scrub oak, red-bark manzanillo and prickly pear cactus, and provides a jaunty ride through high plateaus, box canyons, plunging arroyos and massive boulder piles.

The 5,200-foot elevation leaves several holes vulnerable to frontal assault. Four par fours are drivable on a windless day. But there's the rub: StoneRidge is notorious for swirling breezes that blow mis-hits astray. The remedy is patient course management—wind-cheating punch shots into devious doglegs, safely clear of ball-snaring washes.

A little local knowledge goes a long way at this environmentally sensitive design, which utilizes 28 percent less irrigatable turf than the state's water-conserving maximum of ninety acres. Still, the lush landscape is proving a magnet for such desert denizens as coyotes, hawks and roadrunners. As news of StoneRidge's pleasures travels, there'll be more bag-toting bipeds as well.
—Chris Duthie

Greens Fees: $40-$69. Tee Times: 928-772-6500 or visit stoneridgegolf.com. Nearby: Prescott Golf & Country Club (6 miles; 928-772-8984); Sedona Golf Resort (51 miles; 928-284-9355).

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