North and south, east and west, forest or desert — these Native courses are the personal favorites of some of the top duffers in Indian Country
Notah Begay III
Inn of theMountain Gods / Mescalero, NM
This course will always have a special place in my heart for a number of reasons. Golf brought my family together every May for the annual Wendell Chino golf classic there. My brother Clint and I competed in this Native event since the age of 10 and have loved the course ever since. It’s a Ted Robinson classic design that winds its way through the canyons and meadows of the Sierra Blanca mountains. To this day, I love to visit this golf course as it reminds me of where my golf career got started. I also have a deep admiration for former President of the Mescalero Apache Nation, Wendell Chino, the innovator who combined high-stakes bingo, golf and hotel into the modern Native American destination resort.
Atunyote at Turning Stone Resort / Verona, NY
For six years, the Atunyote course at Turning Stone resort hosted the PGA tour’s Turning Stone resort invitational. [PGA stars] Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar are past champions of the event and they were both impressed by the entire facility. Players won’t find a more finely manicured golf course in the country. The first year Tiger Woods played the Atunyote course during the NB3 Foundation Challenge he called the greens, “some of the finest putting surfaces” he’d ever played.
Ak-Chin Southern Dunes / Maricopa, AZ
Ak-Chin provides a unique links golf experience in the middle of Arizona. This course has been a regular host to the PGA tour qualifying tournament and when the greens are in “tournament condition,” they are some of the fastest in the country. My friend and colleague Fred Couples did a wonderful job of designing holes that require creativity and precision.
The Wilderness at Fortune Bay / Lake Vermillion, MN
This course in northern Minnesota cuts its way through some of the most beautiful forest in the region and provides a variety of tee boxes in order to accommodate all golfers. The Jeff Brauer design incorporates granite rock outcroppings, forest and lakes into a layout that provides a true “getaway” experience. It’s a remote destination, but definitely worth it!
Yocha Dehe Golf Club / Brooks, CA
Eagle Eye is the name of the first hole and it grabs your attention immediately with an intimidating tee shot from an elevated tee that measures over 450 yards. Located only a couple of hours north of my alma mater, Stanford University, Yocha Dehe gives players a chance to take in the ambience of the beautiful rolling hills of northern California. And, for those golfers that like to mix fine American wines with golf, the vineyards of Napa Valley are just over an hour away.
Lake of the Isles, North & South / Mashantucket, CT
The beautiful terrain of Connecticut frames the 36 holes of world-class golf offered by the Foxwoods resort at The Lake of the Isles golf facility. Exceptional views and challenging holes make these courses some of the most engaging in the northeast. Lakes, tall trees and rock features woven into the design create an experience that puts your game to the test.
Journey at Pechanga / Temecula, CA
Journey at Pechanga is a wonderful sanctuary set amidst the mature live oaks and meandering hills of the Temecula Valley. The variety in hole designs keep players engaged while they try to navigate the elevation changes and the unique setting of this southern California gem. Enjoy the ideal weather and impeccable condition of this wonderful course built by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians.
Sandia Golf Club / Albuquerque, NM
It’s very easy to be distracted by the overarching presence of the Sandia mountains that stand as the backdrop for this 18-hole venue. Views of the entire Rio Grande river valley and Sandia mountains grab your attention while enjoying the challenge of this high desert layout. Players that venture out in the early morning will enjoy the sun as it rises over the mountain top and likely avoid the winds that make club selection difficult. Be sure to adjust your yardages for the mile-high elevation — it will boost your drives an extra 15-25 yards.
Jason G. Montoya
Kaluhyat at Turning Stone Golf Resort / Verona, NY
This course is one of the longest in the State of New York, and tight fairways and many trees and streams come into play.
Santa Ana Golf Club / Santa Ana Pueblo, NM
It’s near the Rio Grande with amazing views of the Sandia Mountains. This is where my heart calls home. Learning the game of golf here during summer golf camps, this became my home. Of the 27 holes of golf, the Tamaya Nine is my favorite; it tests you off the tee and on the greens, The Cheena Nine is great for a closing back nine when playing competitive golf and for a fun round.
Paiute Golf Resort / Las Vegas, NV
WOLF (Kwetoo-Unuv) is one of three courses on the Paiute land just north of Las Vegas. Attending the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, I had the opportunity to play and practice at this great facility. The WOLF course is a great layout and has an island green on the closing back nine.
Talking Stick Golf Club / Scottsdale, AZ
Owned by the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, this course has meaning to me as a person and for my career. Members of the community havewelcomed me and I feel a part of the community. Talking Stick offers a variety of golf programs that promote golf to Native American families, also offering a Native American Rate for Green Fees. The North Course is a links-style course with wide fairways and large greens, South Course is a park-style course with many lakes and creeks.
(not a pro... yet)
Circling Raven Golf Club / Worley, ID
I have been playing there since 2012. More than anything, it’s the community, the staff and how well they maintain it every day. The scenery is breathtaking. I could not believe how spread out the course is. There is so much wildlife. Don’t get ahead of yourself on hole # 8.
Salish Cliffs Golf Club / Shelton, WA
It is beautiful out there! I will move there. I like the design and how the course functions all the way round. The second you arrive, the staff makes you feel welcome. For me, that goes a long way. I remember #17, a downhill par-3. I hit a great shot but you really have to think about your shot.
Eagle Creek Golf Club / Joplin, MO
The golf course’s landscape and the beautiful views the land has to offer are what make this course most enjoyable. One of my favorite courses to play, and great hospitality in the pro shop.
Derek Gutierrez, Director, Santa Ana Golf Club
Shenendoah & Atunyote at Turning Stone Resort / Verona, NY
The Atunyote course is a five out of five stars. Tom Fazio is likely my favorite golf course architect and this is by far his best in my book. More challenging than the Shenendoah track, which I also love, this course offers several blind shots and requires accuracy throughout. Always in exceptional condition, the greens are perfect every time. Wonderful parkland style design in a tranquil setting on the Oneida Indian Nation.
Twin Warriors Golf Club / Santa Ana Pueblo, NM
I was part of the team that opened Twin Warriors in 2001 and was promoted to head golf professional in 2004, my first head professional position. Those two items alone make this my favorite. Additional reason, its location on the Pueblo of Santa Ana! Routed in and around 20-plus cultural sites of previous habitation and activity, this is a very special place that overlooks the Rio Grande and Sandia Mountains. A true gem by golf course designer Gary Panks who involved several of the Pueblo’s tribal member’s input when routing the golf course. Always a challenging but fair test of golf. Layout and conditions here are worthy of hosting a PGA or LPGA tour event. In exceptional condition year-round with amazing views in all directions.
Sewailo Golf Club / Tucson, AZ
The best golf course in the Tucson area. Designed by my good friend Notah Begay III, this is a lengthy test on an exceptional playing surface. The green speeds can be challenging, with very playable roughs. Numerous water hazards and few forced carries offer a great balance for the recreational and skilled player alike. This layout is worthy of hosting a PGA or LPGA Tour.
Firekeeper Golf Course / Mayetta, KS
Another Notah Begay III design. Located on the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, this layout is exceptionally maintained with great definition between fairways and rough. This holds true around the greens. The prairie native grasses can be quite challenging. On these large greens, a two-putt is never a given. There is nothing contrived here and it feels like Firekeeper has been there forever.
Spotted Tail Golf Club / Rosebud, SD
This place will always hold a special place in my heart since this is where it all began for me, on my home reservation. It is in the heart of Rosebud Sioux Tribe, definitely a must-play when visiting the area. Owned by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, it is operated by tribal volunteers. It was not designed by any big name. No construction. The course was Just laid out as it lies.
Cochiti Golf Club / Cochiti Lake, NM
Finding it is like finding a needle in a haystack, but it’s a great golf course. A must-play when visiting the area.
The Country Club at Soboba Springs / San Jacinto, CA
Great layout. It hosted a Nationwide Tour Championship in 2004.
Wildhorse Golf Course / Pendelton, OR
It plays host to an Annual Indian Tournament that brings folks from all over the Western U.S. Owned by the Umatilla Indian Community.
Barona Creek Golf Club / Lakeside, CA
Barona has views of the mountains and small wandering creeks that surround you. The greens are sneaky with false fronts and gapping sand traps wait to test your game.
White Horse Golf Club / Suquamish, WA
White Horse GC has a fantastic practice facility with grass tees and numerous targets to hit to, and is extremely tough from the back tees.
Steve W. Tooshkenig
Monthill Golf Course / Mohawk Territory; Ontario, Canada
This has 27 holes of challenging golf, and has playability for golfers of all calibres. The holes are surrounded by water and trees. The course is always in excellent condition. Monthill will host the Ontario Aboriginal Summer Games 2016 hosted by Aboriginal Sports & Wellness Council of Ontario.
Indian Hills Golf Club / Kettle & Stoney Point
First Nation; Ontario, Canada
Some of the most challenging holes in all of Ontario. This course will test your shot-making ability. Tree-lined fairways make each tee shot challenging and you won’t find any faster greens in the area. This is a must-play, a golf course that keeps getting better and better every year.
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club / Fort McDowell, AZ
One of the most beautiful golf courses in Arizona. Every tee shot is breathtaking, and every view is surreal. When your golfing at We-Ko-Pa you feel a peace and a presence that only can be felt while walking this well-manicured course. You have elevated tee shot, elevated greens, and the course is always in excellent condition.
Thornberry Creek at Oneida / Oneida, WI
This was recently purchased and operated by the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin. It will host a 2017 LPGA event. It’s a challenging course with all the bells and whistles. With water, sand and trees, your game will be tested but your memory of the golf course will keep bringing you back for more. Thornberry Creek at Oneida is maturing and blossoming into something special for the LPGA to play.