Forest Highlands Golf Club offers two courses ranked in the Top 10 in Arizona by Golf Digest —the Canyon Course (designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish) and the Meadow Course (designed by Tom Weiskopf)—both meticulously sculpted to fit the lay of the land, with fairways and greens weaving seamlessly into the landscape. It’s as if Mother Nature herself created these courses.
Canyon Course at Forest Highlands Golf Club
Formerly a staple on major magazine top 100 lists, the Canyon course enjoys a high elevation location with huge pine trees similar to what you’d see in the Tahoe region. The front nine is solid but the back nine is where the course shines with some excellent holes are variety. The course is arguably the best in Arizona with the 9th hole being perhaps the signature hole of the Grand Canyon State.
The course starts off gently with some easy holes which is great for guys like me that almost always jump out of the car and roll straight to the first tee, but maybe the best thing about the course is its variety. The par fives all present great risk/reward options, the par 3s and 4s offer a nice mix of lengths and shapes, and the back nine features three holes of each par.
The front nine has some nice holes but the Canyon course at Forest Highlands really kicks things up at the 8th hole when the course dives down into some great terrain with the signature 9th hole being an absolute jaw dropper.
The final six or seven holes provide an excellent finish with impressive variety and would be a blast to compete on in a match play scenario. The course was formerly ranked in national magazine top 100 lists and many would argue that it is still the best course in Arizona. While some may argue that Scottsdale has better courses, no one will argue that the courses are similar in each region. Flagstaff offers a retreat from the desert with trees, mountains, and 7,000 feet of elevation while Scottsdale is flatter, sand based, and dotted with cacti. While Scottsdale is famous for its year round golf, particularly as a winter destination, Forest Highlands is going to be open from mid-May until the first of November generally. In the end, the Canyon course is one of Weiskopf and Morrish’s best tracks and the best offering in Northern Arizona.
As we said the best and signature hole on the course is the 9th Hole – 466 Yard Par 4 – Not only is this the signature hole at Forest Highlands, it is arguably the signature hole for the state of Arizona. The elevated tee offers an impressive view of the area and an inspiring look down to the fairway that sits 75 feet below. A lone tree on the right third of the fairway pulls your eye in while a bunker left of the fairway is ready to catch your ball if you veer too far away from the tree. The tree is only 200 yards from the back tee so the ideal line is to bomb it over the top without reaching the double hazard, tree in a bunker, located 300 yards away. The tee shot plays to a an eggplant shaped green that gets more and more dangerous to attack the further back and to the right the flag is.
The final 100 yards of the hole is flanked on the right by a pond which continues up to the putting surface before giving way to a bunker complex. The safest line is up the left side with a baby fade into the green. On a side note, this is a double green with the 18th hole that features a rise separating the two putting surfaces. This is just a flat out gorgeous and memorable hole that is a hoot to play.
Meadow Course at Forest Highlands Golf Club
Designed by Tom Weiskopf, the Meadow Course opened at Forest Highlands in 1999. The Meadow Course is currently rated #8 in the state of Arizona by Golf Digest. Set in a mountain meadow, the course encompasses lakes, wildflowers, and scenic wetlands.
It’s perhaps not the signature hole on the card, but the short par four 6th is certainly one of the more memorable. Measuring only 342 yards, it’s almost driveable for long hitters teeing it up at an altitude of almost 7,000 feet above sea level. Sensible golfers will note the narrow fairway and tiny green, however, and lay up accordingly.