Let’s Play 18!<br><i>18 reasons to get excited about golf in the Verde Valley/Sedona area</i>

Staff photo by Eric Lusk

PINE Shadows is tucked away between Clarkdale and Old Town Cottonwood.

2. Mr. 59: Jake Grodzinsky

Sedona Red Rock High School senior Jake Grodzinsky drew national attention to our area last spring when he fired a 59 over 18 holes in Snowflake (he got a mention on the Golf Channel among other acknowledgments). That is the lowest known score for an Arizona high school player. After trying to help Sedona defend its state title over the next month, Grodzinsky will take his golf talents to the ACC — he recently inked to play for Duke University.

3. Sundowner Rates

Golf can be an expensive proposition, especially if you factor in carts, equipment and the mandatory after-round meal. Some of our local courses have special rates for those willing to play late in the day. Verde Santa Fe, for example, offers sundowner rates of $15 after 4 p.m. as long as you walk – not a bad deal, especially this time of the year when the temperatures are still mild.

4. Golfing for Charities

Fund-raising golf tournaments have become a staple at courses around the Verde Valley and Sedona. Tournaments have been used to raise much-needed money for everything from breast cancer research, wrestling at Mingus Union High School and the Boys & Girls Club of Cottonwood. Check out The Verde Independent and Bugle frequently for upcoming fund-raising tournament announcements and how you can join the field. Directors of fund-raising golf events are welcome to submit information on your tournament, either by fax (649-1584) or by e-mail (elusk@verdevalleynews.com).

5. Setting a tee time on the Web

Golfers can request a tee time at Verde Santa Fe, Sedona Golf Resort and Oakcreek Country Club sitting at your computer terminal. Check out the Web at www.verdesantafe.com, www.oakcreekcountryclub.com or www.sedonagolfresort.com for more information. These Web sites also feature course information, photographs and information on green fees and lessons.

6. Learning from the pros

Most of us watch Tiger Woods or Annika Sorenstam play golf on TV and cringe. How did they make that shot? While they may not turn you into the next Masters champion, local club pros and club teachers do offer lessons and chances to learn how to shave a few strokes off your score. Here are some of the local pros you can contact for more information on lessons:

• Mike Bishop, Lou Nichols and Eric Burke (Verde Santa Fe, 634-5454)

• Rich Ford (Beaver Creek, 567-4487)

• Mike Madore (Sedona Golf Resort, 284-9355)

• Gary Pearce, Jamey Lewis and Michael Stuwe (Oakcreek Country Club, 284-1660)

7. Pine Shadows: More than meets the eye

Tucked away in canyons and rolling hills between Clarkdale and Old Town Cottonwood is one of Northern Arizona golfing's hidden treasures. Pine Shadows Golf Course is a nine-hole executive course – not a par three, owners like to remind you – that definitely challenges your short game. The longest hole, a par 5, is only 342 yards, but the tight fairways all over the course will test your skills and finesse. Walking or riding the course offers numerous views of majestic Mingus Mountain. The prices are among the best value in the state.

8. Home of the State Champions

Sedona Red Rock’s golf team made a huge splash in its first season in the 3A classification last spring, winning the state championship. The Scorpions didn’t just earn a trophy, they obliterated the field—beating the second place team by 36 strokes over 36 holes. Sean Ernes captured the individual title. Three others placed in the top six. Red Rock returns three starters from that team — Ernes, Jake Grodzinsky and Jimmy Bicking — and looks to be the favorite to repeat. This year's championships are about a month away.

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