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Fairway to Heaven

Cherokee Hills offers beautiful views and challenging golf holes originally designed by Perry Maxwell, as well as stellar service that guests of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa have come to expect.

Article
Michele Chiappetta
Photos
Marc Rains
Posted
March 28, 2018

Golf lovers, here’s a tip: the Cherokee Hills Golf Club at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa is waiting for you. It’s one of the unique golfing spots in Green Country, and once you get to know the course and its history, it’s easy to understand why. Cherokee Hills, as its name suggests, is a hilly course, offering beautiful views and challenging holes, as well as the stellar service that guests of the Hard Rock have come to expect.

“In the Tulsa landscape, there are very few golf courses with the elevation we have here,” says Jeff Jarrett, golf operating general manager for Cherokee Nation Entertainment. Jarrett oversees the Cherokee Hills Golf Club. “You can see the Tulsa skyline. And the elevation changes throughout the golf course, which challenges golfers when they come out here. It’s not flat. It’s not surrounded by developments.”

Cherokee Hills Golf Club is more than a golfing location;  it’s a historic landmark. Built in 1924, it was the first prominent golf course in the Tulsa area, designed by the legendary Perry Maxwell, renowned for his natural, challenging golf course layouts. Maxwell was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 in recognition of his contributions to the sport. (Maxwell designed Southern Hills Golf Course as well, in 1935.)

Cherokee Hills has been named one of the top 5 places to play golf in Oklahoma by Golfweek, a title the course has proudly maintained every year since it first won its top 5 listing in 2007. (Photo: Marc Rains)
Cherokee Hills has been named one of the top 5 places to play golf in Oklahoma by Golfweek, a title the course has proudly maintained every year since it first won its top 5 listing in 2007. (Photo: Marc Rains)

Like many historic landmarks built in the 1920s, Cherokee Hills fell into disrepair, in part due to the damaging impact resulting from the F4 tornado that came through the Tulsa area in 1993. “It had just fallen on hard times, like many golf courses do,” says Jarrett. In 2004, the Cherokee Nation/Hard Rock took over the golf course and brought in Tripp Davis, an NCAA All-American from the University of Oklahoma and well-known golf architect, to redesign the course and restore it to its former glory.

“He’s one of the best restorers of Maxwell golf courses,” says Jarrett. “We renovated the entire property — trees, fairways, greens, irrigation — but retained several holes from the original and added several new ones. It’s hard to tell what holes Davis did versus what was original to Maxwell.” The design is one reason that Cherokee Hills has been awarded as one of the top 5 places to play golf in Oklahoma by Golfweek, a title the course has proudly maintained every year since it first won its top 5 listing in 2007.

One of the great advantages of playing Cherokee Hills, of course, is that it’s adjacent to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa, allowing golfers a wider variety of entertainment pre- and postgame than the typical golf course. “Our goal is to make people happy and give them a great experience here, and then continue their entertainment across the street,” says Jarrett. “You can come here, play, and then go across the street and enjoy a show at The Joint: Tulsa or visit the restaurants there [inside the casino]. We enjoy being part of the Hard Rock property.”

The Cherokee Hills experience is designed with great service in mind. Golf carts are enabled with a GPS system, which golfers tend to appreciate. “It adds a really cool aspect to the event,” says Jarrett. “It tells you the yardage from here to the hole and helps you navigate the golf course.”

Cherokee Hills Golf Club is more than a golfing location;  it’s a historic landmark. (Photo: Marc Rains)
Cherokee Hills Golf Club is more than a golfing location;  it’s a historic landmark. (Photo: Marc Rains)

Another cool feature of the course is its professional staff. The course’s head golf pro is Matt Harris, who works tirelessly to provide a great experience for golfers, including groups and charitable tournament events. The teaching pro is Brian Montgomery, a popular golfer who played for a national championship at Oklahoma State, as well as in two Masters. Guests enjoy not just learning from him, but picking his brain about his experience with the higher levels of golf play.

Cherokee Hills Golf Club also offers a meeting facility space that can accommodate 150-175 people, as well as the Champions Grill. Golfers can preorder food at the eighth hole, pick up their order at the ninth hole, and keep playing. There’s a full practice facility as well, with a driving range, teeing area, putting green and more. Range balls are included in the green fee.

And what would a golf course be without those who keep it in top shape? Thanks to course superintendent John Carothers and his team, Cherokee Hills offers one of the best environments in the state.

And then there’s the pro shop, run by Jimmy Marrujo, who pitched for the New York Yankees before retiring to Oklahoma. “People like to come in and talk to Jimmy about baseball,” says Jarrett. “Our course is not just about the apparel and equipment, but the people too. It adds to the atmosphere here. We’re more unique than other properties, and that makes it fun.”

Guests at the Hard Rock can enjoy special hotel guest rates when they play the semi-private course, including golf packages for groups. “It’s very relaxing to come here,” says Jarrett. “We can handle your needs all across the property. It’s a great place to come. This is a beautiful spot, not just here, but Tulsa. Northeast Oklahoma has a lot to offer.”

Public rates and times are available during the week and on weekends. Memberships are available to Green Country residents, with rate information listed on the Hard Rock’s website.

“Our most significant special rate is our One Star Rate for our One Star card holders,” says Jarrett. “That rate is phenomenal: $40 beginning April 1 through October, and $30 in the offseason. These rates are some of the most affordable in the Tulsa area, and you get a great golf course in return.”  

LOCATOR
Cherokee Hills Golf Club
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa
770 W. Cherokee St. | Catoosa
800-760-6700
hardrockcasinotulsa.com/golf/cherokee-hills