For those who appreciate the pleasure of a golf course’s natural landscape as much as the thrill of a challenging game, Sedona  won’t disappoint. The lush fairways provide a brilliant contrast to the crimson buttes that surround the area’s courses. Unprotected land that can be developed is at a premium in Sedona, so expect slightly shorter drives and imaginatively designed tees and greens.
One of the best golf courses in the state, Seven Canyons (755 Golf Club Way, 866/367-8844, www.sevencanyons.com ) has earned much critical acclaim, including being named one of America’s 50 Greatest Golf Retreats by Golf Digest Index and one of the Top 100 Modern Courses by Golfweek magazine. Tom Weiskopf designed the par-70 course to emphasize the natural topography of the landscape, with tees that take advantage of changes in elevation, naturally rolling fairways, and small, quick greens.
The rock walls, water features, bridges, mature trees, and high-desert landscaping are eclipsed only by the red-rock formations that surround the course. The instructional Performance Center and two-tiered Practice Park—which features a 20,000-square-foot teeing space, four target greens, and a chipping area with a practice bunker—round out the world-class facility.
If the scenery looks familiar at the Sedona Golf Resort (35 Ridge Trail Dr., 928/284-2093, www.sedonagolfresort.com ), you may recognize it from one of the classic Westerns that were filmed here in the 1930s and 1940s, long before the carefully manicured greens and sandy bunkers arrived. The championship course in the Village of Oak Creek  features long, rolling fairways and scenic vistas—the view of the red rocks at the par-3 10th hole can be particularly distracting while teeing off.
Golf Digest regularly bestows the 6,646-yard, par-71 course with a well-deserved four-star rating. And for duffers in need of a quick refresher or extensive instruction, the clubhouse offers clinics, private and group lessons, and even a club-fitting analysis. Before you leave, be sure to check out the remains of the red-rock wall from an early homestead between the first and 18th holes.
Another top course can be found in the Village of Oak Creek. The par-72, 18-hole Oak Creek Country Club (690 Bell Rock Blvd., 928/284-1820, www.oakcreekcountryclub.com ) will appeal to purists who prefer a traditional layout: tree-lined fairways that dogleg, slightly elevated greens, and lakes that pose the occasional hazard. Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed the championship golf course to be a tough play, and the signature fourth hole, which is complemented by terrific views of the red rocks, will push most golfers to earn a par 3. Recent renovations added new concrete cart paths and greenside bunkers, though it hasn’t sacrificed the natural setting.
The par-3 executive course at the Radisson Poco Diablo Resort (1752 S. Hwy. 179, 928/282-7333, www.radissonsedona.com ) provides an excellent opportunity to work on your short game while taking in some impressive views along Oak Creek. The duck ponds, willow and pine trees, and low-key atmosphere offer a refreshing break from Uptown’s crowds. The water hazards and fast greens can be challenging, but the real draw to this 9-hole course is its manageable size, offering a quick and affordable way to fit in a game of golf on a short trip to Sedona .