The Buzz: If you like a little history and a little glamour with your golf course, then Kino Springs just might be your cup of tee. This little gem, created by one of Arizona’s most famous course designers, Red Lawrence, is located on the historic Estancia Yerba Buena Ranch, smack in the heart of ranching country. Here, you’ll find waving grasslands studded with mesquite and oak trees and cottonwoods along the Santa Cruz River near the Mexican border. Situated between Tracy Lake and Kino Springs Lake, this is horse and cattle country and golfers can catch a glimpse of Spanish Barb horses grazing in adjacent pastures which are descendents of horses bred by Padre Eusebio Kino at the Mission Dolores in Sonora and discovered in 1989 on the Wilbur-Cruce Ranch.
Father Kino found the sanctuary at Kino Springs in 1691 on one of his many expeditions through the area. Some 50 years ago, Hollywood superstars Stewart Granger and Jean Simmons owned the Yerba Buena Ranch and entertained frequent celebrity guests, including John Wayne and Elizabeth Taylor. In 1953, Granger and Simmons married in a bizarre ceremony organized by Howard Hughes, who flew the couple to Tucson in one of his private aircraft. They were married mainly among strangers with Michael Wilding, a British screen star and one of Taylor’s many husbands, as best man. But the happy couple loved the Wild West feel of southern Arizona and found plenty on their ranch, which also lies on a major flyway and thus is well known by savvy birdwatchers.
Add it up and Kino Springs, at 3,800 feet elevation, is a unique golfing experience on a course that winds through a mix of canyons, meadowlands and mature trees. The par-71 plays at 6,445 yards from the tips and quickly grabs your attention with an opening par-5, dog-leg right at 539 yards. An eight-hole stretch through canyons will challenge even the best of golfers, starting with No. 5, where a sign at the tee offers a famous Dante warning: “All ye who enter here, abandon all hope.” Make sure to leave time after your round to wander these grounds near the Coronado National Forest, survey its stunning views, stalk some wildlife and ponder its history.