Where’s the best place to play golf on the West Coast? We’ll give you hundreds of choices.
NO. 1 COURSE(S): RITZ-CARLTON AT DOVE MOUNTAIN
LOCATION: 6501 Boulder Bridge Pass, Marana
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.
GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check website: ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/DoveMountain/Golf
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
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.
GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site: vistosogolf.com
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 THE PRESERVE AT SADDLEBROOKE
LOCATION: 66567 E. Catalina Hills Road, Tucson
DIRECTIONS: From Tucson Airport, take I-10 north to Miracle Mile. Turn right at the light and continue to AZ 77 (Oracle Road). Go left for nearly 30 miles onto Saddle Brooke Blvd. Turn left onto Catalina Hills Drive. Turn left onto E. Catalina Hills Drive and course is on the right.
PHONE: 520 825-9022
GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site: thepreservegolfcourse.com
OPENED: 2003 (Architect Dick Bailey)
LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,006 yards (four tee positions)
LOWDOWN: The views are spectacular and virtually every hole is challenging at The Preserve at Saddlebrooke. It winds through the picturesque canyons and foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The 18-hole course gives you the feeling that you’re literally on top of the world.
With elevated tees and holes amidst dramatic boulders, the semi-private desert course presents an enjoyable challenge to novices as well as avid golfers, offering a variety of challenging holes, perfectly manicured fairways and majestic mountain views. Join the fun with groups for your skill level.
SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 6, par-3, 147 yards (from the gold tee; pictured at the top). This little par-3 is one of the most spectacular holes in the Tucson area. It sits in the middle of trouble, starting with a bushes and worse from tee to green. Go left and your ball is on a hillside. Hit it right and you are down a hill. In other words, aim for the middle and don’t miss in any direction, although going a bit long is OK.
NO. 4 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.
GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site: elconquistadorcc.com
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, is the nine-hole Pusch Ridge Course which winds, dips and climbs through 175 feet of vertical drop in the Tucson 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. 5 COURSE: ARIZONA NATIONAL
LOCATION: 9777 Sabino Springs Drive, Tucson
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.
GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site: arizonanationalgolfclub.com
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.
– Jim Street
TOMORROW: British Columbia/Vancouver area