Talking Rock Ranch – Classic Golf In Prescott, Arizona
By Larry Berle
The traditional architecture of the great ranches of Central Arizona lives at Talking Rock. Talking Rock is an ideal respite from the stifling heat of Phoenix’s summer. Located 12 miles north of Prescott, Arizona and approximately two hours north of Phoenix), this pristine piece of property sits at approximately 5,000 feet of elevation and most of the property provides the visitor endless 75 mile vistas over the rolling hills that engulf you in this neck of the woods. As you approach the gate it is clear you are in ranch country.
The golf course, built in 2000, was designed by Jay Morrish. Morrish was teamed with Tom Weiskopf and together they designed many award winning and top 100 golf courses. About an hour away they designed the top rated course in Arizona, Forest Highlands in Flagstaff. They also designed the TPC of Scottsdale where the FBR Open is played every year.
Talking Rock plays to 7,350 yards, but that is too much for me so we played it at 6,400 yards. The fairways provide generous landing areas but the challenge really creeps in as you close in on the greens. Moorish has a certain genius about his visual acuity and set up. He has a devilish way of fooling the eye with bunkers that appear near a green that are really 20-30 yards in front and washes and gorges that are hidden from view, unless you studied the yardage book on each hole. The greatest example of this is number 15, what some would call a drivable par-4 but a fooler to the eye. Drivable par-4’s are a signature of Jay Morrish.
Morrish uses that same sneaky capability on the greens, which are large and appear rather flat, but are far from it and very tricky to read. The greens run quick and true and leave many a visitor making three putts. This may sound daunting but it is truly a fabulous golf course and if you have the opportunity to play it, carpe diem. During my round, I was reminded of a great quote by Alister MacKenzie. He was asked how he made such flat looking greens so devilish and he said, “I try to hire the village idiot and instruct him to produce perfectly flat greens.”
The fairways are firm giving you plenty of roll and supporting crisp iron play. Similarly, the greens were in wonderful condition. It’s December 4 and it’s their winter here, because there is occasional frost, they don’t move the pin positions on a daily basis this time of year. There are 3 or 4 hole locations per green and the pin positions not in use that day still have their cup but are fitted with a cover over the top. This is done well enough that I am sure you could putt over them.
The greens are large, creating several pin locations to choose from to change things up from day to day. The largest green on the course, number 18, is 51 yards deep. Just to give you some perspective that is farther than most NFL kickers can kick a field goal.
In true ranch tradition, rather than an opulent clubhouse they have created the “ranch compound”, a group of buildings that blend magnificently into the environmental surroundings. The compound consists of the Ranch House, with its wonderful restaurant, the Barn Fitness Center, and the Tack House with its locker rooms and Pro Shop. The layout offers plenty of entertainment spaces in the great outdoors surrounding the compound. You will see that the great outdoors is a way of life around here.
There are almost 1,500 home sites on this 3,500 acre ranch, but they are well set back from the holes and do not infringe on the course. The concept is “traditional rural ranch” with stone and wood exteriors (no stucco here). If you look at the homes that have been built here you know you are on a ranch.
In addition to the golf there is swimming, tennis and 30 miles of nature and hiking trails, so there are plenty of activities to choose from. Home sites range from $100k-$350k and homes start at $600k
This is a private club, but in the interest of attracting new members, they now have a stay and play package. For $450 you get your choice of two rounds of golf or spa treatments and a stay in a gorgeous 2,400 square foot 3 bedroom villa. If you are in the area this is a must do.