LOCATION: 6501 Boulder Bridge Pass, Marana, AZ
DIRECTIONS FROM I-10: Take Tangerine Rd. East and turn left onto N. Dove Mountain Blvd. At roundabout, take first exit onto N. Secret Springs Dr. From Tucson, take LaCholla to Tangerine Rd., go left to N. Dove Mountain Blvd. Turn right to roundabout, take first exit onto N. Secret Springs Dr.
PHONE: 877-572-2770 (web site: ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/DoveMountain/Golf)
GREEN FEES: Seasonal, call for rates and to make tee times
OPENED: 2009 (Architect: Jack Nicklaus)
LAYOUT: (Saguaro): Par 36, 3,894 yards, serves as front nine for the Accenture Match Play Championship; (Tortolita): Par 36, 3,955 yards, serves as back nine for the Accenture Match Play Championship; (Wild Burro): Par 36, 3,897 yards.
LOWDOWN: Nestled in the desert foothills of the Tortolita Mountain Range, the 27 holes at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain feature dramatic elevation changes and stunning views. The three nines were all designed by Jack Nicklaus and are played in three different 18-hole combinations.
The Wild Burro/Saguaro golf course combines Nicklaus’ favorite nine, Wild Burro, with the front nine of the Accenture Match Play Championship. The golf course features intricately contoured greens and carefully placed fairway bunkers. The course plays through canyons and desert washes covered in centuries-old Saguaro cacti.
The third, fourth and fifth holes on the Wild Burro nine are notably challenging with the third featuring an ‘island green’ standing amidst sand and cacti.
SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 6 par-5, 586 yards (Wild Burro). It’s spectacular. Water stretches out from the tee along the left of a narrow landing area, with a pot bunker in play on the right. A wide wash runs in front of a small green, affecting the decision to go for it, or lay-up. Good luck.
NO 2. COURSE: VISTOSO
LOCATION: 955 West Vistoso Highlands Drive, Tucson, AZ
DIRECTIONS FROM I-10: Take Tangerine Road to N. Rancho Vistoso Blvd. Go left to West Vistoso Highlands Dr. Go left to golf course. From downtown Tucson go north on Oracle and go left on Tangerine Rd. Go right on N. Rancho Vistoso Blvd. to West Vistoso Highlands Dr. Go left to golf course.
PHONE: 520-797-9900 (web site: vistosogolf.com)
GREEN FEES: Feb. 3-April 15; $109.95 (Prime Time); $59.95 after 1:30 p.m. (Twilight); $29.95 after 3:30 p.m. (Super-Twilight)
OPENED: 1995: (Architect: Tom Weiskopf)
LAYOUT: Par 72, 6,954 yards (four tee positions)
LOWDOWN: The layout is interesting in that each hole has its own unique personality, making it fun for all golfers. The desert target-style course behooves accuracy off the tee. You will stay dry most of the round as the only hazard is No. 8, a 371-yard, Par-4.
Vistoso Golf Club has won many awards since its debut, including the best public golf course in Tucson by Golf Digest.
SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 14, par-4, 323 yards. A classic risk/reward hole as a well-struck drive directly at the pin can get you home, but stray a little and trouble lurks right and left. Wise shot would be left of the green, about 100 yards from the green.
NO. 3 COURSE(S): HILTON EL CONQUISTADOR
LOCATION: 10000 North Oracle Road (Pusch Ridge) and 10555 N. LaCanada Road, (Conquistador and Canada courses)
DIRECTIONS: For Pusch Ridge: From I-10, take Tangerine Road to Oracle Rd. Turn right and look for the Hilton Resort entrance on your left. From downtown Tucson: Take Oracle Road to the Hilton Resort entrance on the right.
PHONE: 520-544-1900 (web site: elconquistadorcc.com)
GREEN FEES: Call for fees or check with GolfNow.com for rates, tee times
OPENED: 1982 (Architect: Greg Nash/Jeff Hardin)
LAYOUT: (El Conquistador): Par 71, 6,801 yards (four tee positions); (Canada Course): Par-72, 6,713 (four tee positions); (Pusch Ridge): 9-hole, 2,788, par-35.
LOWDOWN: The resort offers 45 holes of championship golf on three courses, providing challenging play with course enhancements to provide a true desert golf experience.
Surrounding the resort itself, the nine-hole Pusch Ridge Course winds, dips and climbs through 175 feet of vertical drop in the foothills. The Conquistador and Cañada Courses are located off the main resort grounds and offer traditional layouts in spectacular settings.
SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 5, par-5, 541 yards. The difficult fifth hole on the Conquistador requires every type of shot to play over a pond to a two-tiered green protected by bunkers, so choose your club and shot wisely.
NO. 4 COURSE: ARIZONA NATIONAL
LOCATION: 9777 Sabino Springs Drive, Tucson, AZ
DIRECTIONS FROM TUCSON AIRPORT: Take a right on Tucson Blvd. and go a half mile. Take a right on Valencia for 9.9 miles then a left on Houghton for 12 miles. Turn left on Snyder for 0.4 mile and take a right on Sabino Springs at the gatehouse.
PHONE: 520-749-3519 (web site: arizonanationalgolfclub.com)
GREEN FEES: Feb. 3-April 15; $109.95 (Prime Time); $59.95 after 1:30 p.m. (Twilight); $29.95 after 3:30 p.m. (Super-Twilight).
OPENED: 1995 (Architect: Robert Trent Jones, Jr.)
LAYOUT: Par 71, 6,785 yards (five tee positions)
LOWDOWN: Arizona National Golf Club is Southern Arizona desert golf at its finest. The course is nestled in the foothills of the beautiful Santa Catalina Mountains adjacent to the Coronado National Forest. The golf course follows the rugged natural flow of the land across shady mesquite-lined arroyos and skirts craggy rock outcroppings.
Since the golf course opened, it has continued to earn accolades in various categories, including the top golf course in Arizona by the Arizona Republic. It also is the home course for the University of Arizona.
SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 18, par-5, 513 yards. A great finishing hole, the safe play is a left-to-right tee shot between the bunkers on the left and right of the fairway. A well-placed tee-shot leaves the player with a long iron or fairway wood into the green, but for most golfers, a player has a better shot at a birdie with second-shot lay-up and short iron into the green.
NO. 5 COURSE(S): TUBAC
LOCATION: 1 Avenue de Otero Road, Tubac, AZ
DIRECTIONS FROM TUCSON AIRPORT: Turn left on Valencia Blvd. and go three miles to Interstate 19 South. Stay on I-19 for 33 miles to Exit 40 (Chavez Siding) and follow the signs to Tubac. Turn left at gateway.
PHONE: 520-398-2021 (web site: tubacgolfresort.com)
GREEN FEES: Seasonal, call the golf shop for current rates.
OPENED: 1959 (Architect: Robert ‘Red’ Lawrence); 2006: third nine holes (Architect: Ken Kavanaugh)
LAYOUT: (Otero/Anza): Par 72, 6,435 (four tee positions); (Anza/Rancho): Par 72, 6823 (four tee positions); (Rancho/Ortero): Par 72, 6,870 (four tee positions).
LOWDOWN: The Tubac Golf Resort and Spa was made famous by Kevin Costner’s 1996 movie ‘Tin Cup,’ where many of the scenes were filmed. All three nines offer lush green fairways from tee to green, which are lined with stately old growth cottonwoods and mesquites set against Arizona’s clear blue skies. This is not desert target golf!
Tubac Golf Resort & Spa was recognized by Conde Nast Johansens as one of two finalists for the prestigious 2011 Awards for Excellence as The Most Excellent Golf Resort.
SIGNATURE HOLES: No. 9, par-3, 140 yards (Anza): This hole should remind you of the 17th at TPC Sawgrass, minus the cows behind the green. Finding the island green is tough enough, but with the spectators at Stables Ranch restaurant heckling anyone whose shot finds a watery grave, it is even more difficult. Intimidation factor is high on this hole. Par is a good score. No. 4, par-5, 568 yards (Rancho). Tubac’s Tin Cup hole, requires three well struck shots to reach the green. Keep tee and second shots on the fairway’s right side, away from the trees and thick rough on the left. The pond fronting the green prevents all but the longest hitters from getting “home” in two. This hole was the setting for the scene in the movie “Tin Cup” where Kevin Costner was caddying for Don Johnson and Johnson wanted to lay up with a seven iron. Costner said he could do it and that is when Gary McCord, Peter Kostis, Craig Stadler and a young Phil Mickelson began to wager on whether or not he could pull it off. No. 9, par-4, 315 yards (Otero) Water guards the entire left side and fronts the green on this short but potentially lethal par 4. If your drive stays dry, the second shot will also test your nerve. Take your par and go!
- Jim Street