Course Tour

Stone Canyon: A hole-by-hole breakdown of the Match 3 host venue

November 25, 2020

The site of "The Match: Champions for Change" will be an unknown venue for most casual golf fans. The Stone Canyon Club in the Tucson, Ariz., suburbs of Oro Valley is a private club ranked 166th on Golf Digest’s most recent Second 100 Greatest, and it has ranked as high as 68th on our 100 Greatest list in 2009-’10. it is considered the crown desert layout of the late architect Jay Morrish, who worked as an in-house designer for Jack Nicklaus for 10 years before pursuing business on his own.

Stone Canyon was routed within the Tortolita Mountains around some magnificent, ancient rock outcroppings that come into play on a lot of holes. It’s currently ranked fourth in Golf Digest’s Best in State ranking, and it’s the highest-ranked course in the Tucson area. Phil Mickelson’s ownership group acquired the club in 2014, making it a fitting host for the Match 3 on Nov. 27 at 3 p.m. ET on TNT. (After all, Tiger got to host The Match 2 at his home club, Medalist Golf Club, right?) Mickelson will partner with Charles Barkley to face Steph Curry and Peyton Manning in the matches, raising money and creating awareness for diversity and inclusion through donations for historically black colleges and universities.

Though Phil is likely very familiar with this desert oasis, the other players—and perhaps many viewers—will not be. So we’ve compiled information and photos on every hole, so you can have a sneak peek at the host venue.

First hole: Par 4, 426 yards from back tees, 369 yards from next set

The opening hole is a dogleg left that gently opens up past a group of desert brush and trees (yes, there are some trees at this desert course). The second shot will play slightly downhill to a pretty generous green guarded by bunkers on the left.

Here’s a view from behind the green:

Che Wilson/chetheshooter.com, Courtesy of Stone Canyon

Second hole: Par 5, 559 yards from back tees, 499 yards from next set

Though the shortest par-5 hole on the course, this one requires strategy. The fairway runs into desert brush, requiring players to play short of it. Position is key being able to go for this well-protected green in two.

Here’s a view of the disconnected fairway, running into the bunkers and desert brush.

Che Wilson/chetheshooter.com, Courtesy of Stone Canyon

Third hole: Par 4, 386 yards from back tees, 328 yards from next set

This is a short par 4 that again demands sound strategy and execution. We can imagine Mickelson will try to cut the corner over the rock outcroppings to set Barkley up with a short second shot. (We’ll likely see that play from Phil a lot.) The best angle playing into this green is from the right side of the fairway, but that also leaves for a longer approach.

Here’s a view from the corner of the dogleg looking up at the green:

Courtesy of the club

Fourth hole: Par 4, 374 yards from back tees, 352 yards from next set

In the video course tour on Stone Canyon’s website, Mickelson narrates: “Accuracy, not length, is the objective” at this par 4. We’ll see if he listens to his own advice—or if he and Barkley are down early, whether he tries to hit a big “hellacious seed” over the right corner. A two-tiered green means coming into the elevated green with a short iron will be key to controlling your distance.

Here’s a view looking up at the green:

Che Wilson/chetheshooter.com, Courtesy of Stone Canyon

Fifth hole: Par 4, 425 yards from back tees, 350 yards from next set

This is a tremendous downhill par 4 that meanders down into the valley. A tee shot down the left center will avoid the fairway cutting out on the right side. This is also a two-tiered green.

Here’s a look from behind the putting surface:

Che Wilson/chetheshooter.com, Courtesy of Stone Canyon

Sixth hole: Par 3, 145 yards from back tees, 125 yards from next set

Stone Canyon’s first par 3 is also one of its most memorable. The shortest hole at the club is framed by a 60-foot waterfall that flows down the left side of the green and in front of the surface. It’s a small, uphill target to hit, but it’s also a flattish green. There could be some fireworks here during The Match.

Che Wilson/chetheshooter.com, Courtesy of Stone Canyon

Seventh hole: Par 5, 554 yards from back tees, 484 yards from next set

This is a wide fairway to hit, but you want to be on the right side in order to hit the green that’s perched up on the left side of this hole and protected by three bunkers.

Courtesy of the club

Eighth hole: Par 4, 403 yards from back tees, 319 yards from next set

Golfers are faced with the most difficult tee shot at the eighth, with a narrow landing area framed by bunker and ripples in the fairway. The green at the eighth hole might be one of the most challenging to hit, too, with a severely undulating surface protected by three intimidating bunkers and a false front. This will not be a birdie hole during The Match.

Courtesy of the club

Here’s a look looking up to the approach at the eighth green.

Ninth hole: Par 3, 227 yards from back tees, multiple options with 10 tee boxes

One of the most scenic views at Stone Canyon comes from the back tees at the par-3 ninth. The hole plays as much as 160 feet down from the tee into this large green carved into the valley. There are 10 sets of tee boxes here, so we’ll have to see where organizers put the Chuck tees on this one.

Che Wilson/chetheshooter.com, Courtesy of Stone Canyon

10th hole: Par 5, 622 yards from the back tees, 540 yards from next set

This is a great risk-reward hole. A generous landing area can be found from the elevated tee, but the options present themselves on the second shot. Big hitters can take on a long forced carry over water, and if you lay up to the left, you have to be precise with your placement. The green is a small one for a par 5, protected by bunkers on both sides.

Here’s a view off the tee:

Che Wilson/chetheshooter.com, Courtesy of Stone Canyon

11th hole: Par 4, 435 yards from the back tees, 391 yards from next set

A rather straightforward tee shot to a sloping fairway is all that’s needed at 11. The approach to a narrow green perched up hill and protected by bunkers presents the challenge here.

Che Wilson/chetheshooter.com, Courtesy of Stone Canyon

12th hole: Par 4, 458 yards from the back tees, 418 yards from next set

Named “Devil’s Bunker” after a sand hazard that used to cut through the fairway, this is a demanding par 4. A long swath of desert wash cuts across the fairway about 190 yards out from the green, making for a tough approach.

Here’s a view from behind the large-ish green:

Che Wilson/chetheshooter.com, Courtesy of Stone Canyon

13th hole: Par 4, 432 yards from back tees, 363 yards from next set

It’s important to leave your tee shot on the left side of this fairway—if you’re on the right, you’ll have a blind approach to this uphill, shallow green.

Here’s the view off the tee to this dogleg left hole:

Che Wilson/chetheshooter.com, Courtesy of Stone Canyon

14th hole: Par 3, 193 yards from back tees, 170 yards from next set

Another scenic par 3 at Stone Canyon. The green sits at the base of the Tortolita Mountains, framing this downhill tee shot.

Here’s a view of the mountains behind the hole:

Che Wilson/chetheshooter.com, Courtesy of Stone Canyon

15th hole: Par 5, 632 yards from back tees, 578 yards from next set

Another monster par 5, and this one presents a number of options. A conservative play on this zig-zagging hole is the smart way to go—finding the fairway is important here. The fairway runs out before the green, making this is a three-shot hole for most players. This will be a great match-play hole.

Here’s a view from behind the hole:

Che Wilson/chetheshooter.com, Courtesy of Stone Canyon

16th hole: Par 3, 237 yards from the back tees, 180 yards from next set

This par 3 plays slightly downhill to a green protected by a collection area in front. The green is relatively big, so hitting to the large target on the left is the prudent play. But if the hole is on the right side, a two-putt is no bargain. This is one of the toughest greens to read on property, we’re told.

Che Wilson/chetheshooter.com, Courtesy of Stone Canyon

17th hole: Par 4, 306 yards from the back tees, 275 yards from next set

The view from the back tees is phenomenal, giving golfers a 360-degree look at the valley and the entire property. This short par 4 will be drivable for Mickelson and Curry—but there’s trouble to be found here. The hourglass-shaped green is protected by six bunkers, so golfers need to be careful about where they leave their tee shots.

Stone Canyon - approach to 17.jpg

18th hole: Par 5, 503 yards from the back tees, 415 yards from next set

A thrilling finisher—the long par 4 plays over a desert island to a fairway that slopes left to right (watch out for the vegetation guarding the left side of this fairway). The hole rolls slightly downhill to a large-ish green to finish.

Che Wilson/chetheshooter.com, Courtesy of Stone Canyon

There's also a 19th hole at Stone Canyon. In case The Match is tied through regulation, we'll see if the 107-yard bye hole is put into play ...

Che Wilson/chetheshooter.com, Courtesy of Stone Canyon