Named after a Cheyenne chief, Roman Nose State Park is one Oklahoma’s oldest state parks. In the heart of the preserve sits a 22-room lodge, an elegant—yet rustic—hotel that dates back to 1956. Though the lodge retains its streamlined, mid-century aesthetic, a recent renovation provided the guest rooms with modern touches, including flat-screen TVs and iHome docking stations. Artistic photographs of Roman Nose’s own picturesque waterfalls and canyons decorate the walls. Retreat to the on-site restaurant’s outdoor patio to heckle slow-moving squirrels while you eat.
There is no shortage of outdoor recreation within the state park. Guests can play a round on the 18-hole golf course, hike miles of multi-purpose trails, or cast a line into nearby Watonga Lake to fish for trout. When the weather’s warm, take a dip in the outdoor swimming pool, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The lodge also offers bicycle, canoe, kayak, and horse rentals.
The 18-hole course at Sugar Creek Canyon Golf Club puts golfers face-to-face with a wide variety of challenges, from violent crosswinds to treacherous sandstone ravines. Completed scorecards often tell a tale of two nines, as the wide-open front nine lulls the unwary golfer into overconfident thwacks, though the relatively flat layout brings wind into play on many bids for the green. Lack of restraint going into the back nine may be one’s undoing, as this half tacks along the edges of the course’s eponymous canyon: rolling, diving, and swelling through a gauntlet of ravines and gullies. Whereas the front nine posed few obstacles to knock down shots that drifted astray of the fairway, the back nine features plenty of cedars, grassy hillocks, and sandstone outcroppings in which to lose a ball. Holes 14–17, known collectively as The Stretch, make each player earn a score worthy of posting in the clubhouse or skywriting over an opponent’s home. The par 5 16th, for instance, demands a precise tee shot lest the ball wind up in the twin ravines that straddle the fairway landing area. After safely sidestepping these disaster zones, players must then make a difficult choice between going for the green or laying up well short, as every endeavor that lands within 75 yards of the putting surface winds up in the bunker or deep rough.
Though players must adapt to a number of scenarios, course designer and longtime professional player Mark Hayes made sure that each hole adheres to a common theme of pristine conditions and playability for all levels of golfer, with four tee options at each hole. Sugar Creek Canyon also hosts tournaments every year.
Course at a Glance: