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Arizona Golf Course Review

 Dinosaur Mountain at Golf Canyon Resort 04

Dinosaur Mountain Golf Club is the premier layout at the Golf Canyon Golf Resort, and has been ranked as the
# 1 public golf course in Arizona (by Ranking Arizona Magazine) for several years running. The resort also features the Sidewinder, which as the sister course is more of a resort style golfing experience. With two 18-hole championship layouts as well as practice facilities, plus comfortable upscale accommodations, a swimming pool & hot tub, a healing arts center, horseback riding and other amenities, Gold Canyon is a preferred Arizona golf destination. For more info, visit our page for Gold Canyon in our Arizona golf resort listing section by clicking here.

 Dinosaur Mountain at Golf Canyon Resort 04

 Dinosaur Mountain at Golf Canyon Resort 04

The main draw of course - is the Dinosaur Mountain championship course - a sprawling high desert design that is absolutely spectacular.  In our four years plus of reviewing hundreds of courses, three layouts particularly standout out for their captivating environment - Wolf Creek in Mesquite, the White Witch in Jamaica, and the Dinosaur Mountain course here in Arizona. Many courses in Arizona provide panoramic desert mountain scenery - Dinosaur Mountain plays in the mountains , with many of the tee areas situated on the cliffs of Dinosaur Mountain itself. The Superstition Mountains are also pictured in many of the photos in this review, providing some postcard quality backdrops. Wildlife viewing on this course is also a premium, as bunnies, lizards and quail are everywhere, and birds of prey including hawks, falcons and vultures are frequently flying overhead.

 Dinosaur Mountain at Golf Canyon Resort 04

 Dinosaur Mountain at Golf Canyon Resort 04

The clubhouse at Gold Canyon services both courses, and includes a pro shop stocked with accessories and attire, plus two dining areas that serve a variety of fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and all the favorite beverages in an adjacent lounge. The views from either of these restaurants are simply marvelous. A grass and mat range are on property, plus two putting greens. The resort pool and hot tub are also located next to the clubhouse.

On course golfers will find yardage blocks at the 100, 150 and 200 yard areas, plus 250 on par fives. The Pro Link GPS that is standard on all carts takes care of the job of providing accurate information from tee to the pin. A yardage indicator is also mounted on the rear of the carts. With recent updates, the course now offers 5 sets of tees, with the tips playing to a challenging 6653 yards with a slope of 143. Alternate sets measure 6323/135 slope, 5833/122 slope for men and 138 for women, 5368/117 slope for men and 137 for women, and 4833/118 slope. The blue or middle tees provide a significant test and are recommended for mid to high handicapped golfers.

 Dinosaur Mountain at Golf Canyon Resort 04

 Dinosaur Mountain at Golf Canyon Resort 04

The three opening holes are ranked as the 15th, 11th and number 1 handicaps - but depending upon pin placement may be the most difficult stretch for recording a low score on the course. The first begins from sculpted tee areas to a rolling fairway that slopes right to left, and plays uphill on the approach to a back to front sloped putting surface. There is a subtle ridge in the middle left portion of the green that can wreak havoc on chips or putts approaching softly. After missing short I thought I had hit a perfect chip, only to see my ball roll back down, and roll back down, and roll back down...My first putt rolled past the pin, which is not a preferred play, as the one coming back is even more difficult. The rule of thumb on many holes is to keep the approach below the pin. Hole # 2 affords beautiful views of the valley from an elevated tee, with one club less needed to reach the - again - back to front sloped putting surface. There is bail out room short on this par three. The par four 3rd plays over a ravine from the 3 back tees, to an extremely sloped fairway that will guide balls hit off the hill to the left side of the landing zone. Stay to the right side all the way, as this slope dominates the lay of this hole all the way to the green. This elevated putting surface features moguls all around and mounding in back - making for tricky up and downs for shots that miss. There is a ridge running across the center, and the back to front slope is considerable - stay below the hole! Survive these 3 holes and the putting gets much easier...TIP - spend 10 minutes or so on the putting green that is situated just before the first tee - it will give you an accurate assessment of the conditions you will encounter on the first 3 holes. From an elevated tee the par four 4th presents a good scoring opportunity, as the green at the end of this wide fairway is very putt-able. From here golfers will drive up Dinosaur Mountain to an elevated tee that drops off a precipice to the green below - with spectacular views of the valley and surrounding mountains. There is plenty of room in the depressions and collection areas greenside, but pay attention to the pin location as the putting surface is huge. The elevated tee on six leads to a very rolling fairway. Long hitters can cut this hole by aiming just left of the cart path to a level landing zone , creating a good opportunity to reach this long par four in easy fashion. All others should play to the left center and play a longer approach to a green complex that affords plenty of room for error. The wide fairway on seven ends at a desert wash about 40 yards from the green. There is a huge bunker on the right side of the fairway and another short left greenside. The par three 8th is simple, but pay attention to the GPS and go for the flag as the putting surface here is very large. The landing area is wide on number nine, but a water hazard along the left creeps in towards the fairway from 180 yards in. The green is well bunkered, with mounding behind.

 Dinosaur Mountain at Golf Canyon Resort 04

 Dinosaur Mountain at Golf Canyon Resort 04

The back side begins with a simple par three over a desert wash, with plenty of room between the hazard and spacious putting surface. The photo from the forward tees on eleven provides an example of how the course is made women friendly, as most of the trouble off the tee is eliminated from the red tee areas. This is true, for the most part all throughout the course. This hole is ranked as the number two handicap, but a good score can be had if played as a three shot par five.  The elevated tee on 12 plays to an ample fairway that slopes from left to right, towards the trap on that side. The slightly uphill approach is simple. The bunkers on the left side are in direct line to the flag on 13, creating the need for a play to the right side. With a large bunker guarding the right side, the safest approach involves right to left shot shape aimed at the left edge of the putting complex. From tee boxes situated on a cliff the par three 14th features a downhill shot to a green with swales and slopes all around. Do not be short here!  The par four 15th plays from another elevated tee to a split fairway. The safest route is to the right side, but the approach is long from here. Those that can negotiate the mountain and land on the left side from 115 yards in are rewarded with a simple wedge approach and a good scoring opportunity. The par five 16th demands a carry over a desert area, and beckons golfers to cut off as much distance as possible by challenging the right center of the fairway. Long hitters can reach in two, but the safe play is a lay up to the 70 yard area on the right - leaving an uphill approach to a green well protected by sand bunkers in front. Number 17 is a pretty three par, that plays uphill over a desert area. A huge bunker protects the front and left side, and moguls to the right create some tricky up and downs. Bunkers and mounds line the fairway on the mid range par four 18th, which doglegs left near the 120 yard area. A tee shot to the 100 yard area will create a good scoring opportunity on this closing hole.

Not much left to say...except that anyone traveling to Arizona to play golf who has not yet played this course is missing out on a great opportunity to experience the best - and to get a true feeling of the grandeur that is available in Arizona golf. This is how we like to remember it. Summer is actually a great time to visit - and to play either early in the morning or late afternoon. The 45 minute drive from Scottsdale is well worth it - great deals are available for golf and for accommodations during the off-season.

 Dinosaur Mountain at Golf Canyon Resort 04

For more info on Dinosaur Mountain and for a link to their website, visit our Dinosaur Mountain page on our Arizona golf course listing section by clicking here.

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