Just as there’s more to Arizona golf than Tucson and the Valley of the Sun, and there’s more to Lake Powell than boating.
By Jon Rizzi
The drive from southern Colorado to Lake Powell cuts through the 17.5-million-acre Navajo Nation, the largest land area in the United States retained by an indigenous tribe.
The Navajo have thus far eschewed the casino-golf course parlay that other tribes have made, though a rough-hewn, grassless “Rez Golf” course across the sage and rabbitgrass outside the town of Steamboat, Ariz. has received some national media attention for its ingenuity.
Unfortunately, time didn’t allow for a three-hour detour to test my putting skills on “the browns.” The greens awaited in Page.
Welcomed by the sight of the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument dappled by the late afternoon sun, I docked at Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas. A walk along the shore worked up my appetite for fish, which would take the form of a fabulous seared salmon topped with peach and jalapeño salsa in the resort’s Rainbow Room.
Lake Powell National is the only golf course in Page. Designed by Bill Phillips, the course opened in 1995 above—not along—the Arizona portion of the namesake reservoir popular with vacationing boaters and watersport enthusiasts. Its perch in the sandstone mesas affords views of Lake Powell, the Glen Canyon Dam and Vermillion Cliffs—and no shortage of gorgeous golf holes.
The course opens with a straightforward, reachable par 5 from an elevated tee to a fairway 200 yards away. An easy par there leads to a lengthy drive the second tee. I’d just recently covered a considerable amount of ground in my car, so this green-to-tee expanse didn’t affect me as much as it would later, when I had my rhythm broken on a journey between holes 16 and 17.
Routing quirks aside, the course provides a stellar experience. Front-nine highlights include the blind, dogleg left third with a rock shelf guarding the green and two short par 4s on holes eight and nine that tantalize with risk-reward options.
Lake Powell’s back nine amps up the challenge as you ascend into the red rocks. Ignore the yardage book at your peril. After the treacherous blind-approach par-5 11th, a blind tee shot awaits on the par-4 12th. With the Vermillion Cliffs as a backdrop, the par-3 13th is pure eye-candy, as is the par-3 15th which sits atop a precipice 120 feet above the shallow green.
Another elevated tee with a view—this time of Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam—awaits on the dogleg-right par-4 16th. Aim at the pond in the distance and even consider laying up from there. You’ll need to follow the long journey to the 17th tee with another long drive on this 641-yard monster. A devilish three-tiered green makes the uphill par-4 18th a great bet-settler.
Lake Powell National’s well-appointed clubhouse caters to vacationers, making it a relaxed place to reflect on an underrated, reasonable (a round here with cart, tops out at $60) and highly scenic round away from the golf meccas to the south.
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