Southern Arizona Tucson

Ventana Canyon – Canyon The Lodge at

Southern Arizona Tucson

Tucson National – Sonoran Course

Tucson National - Sonoran Course

The Buzz: When the owners of Tucson National decided to add a second championship course, they wanted something different from their acclaimed Catalina Course, but one that would maintain its reputation as a quality golf experience. They decided on former British Open champion and Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman to handle the project, which turned out to be the perfect choice. Lehman’s desert-style design is a stark and wonderful contrast to the traditional Catalina layout, and one that has become highly popular with members and resort guests alike. At Tucson National, play is alternated daily with guests assigned to one course and members to the other.

The Sonoran Course is an excellent high-desert design featuring significant elevation changes, meticulously landscaped desert scenery and wonderful views of the nearby Santa Catalina Mountains, all of which provide the diversity of golf experience that the resort had in mind. And in the spring, when desert flora is in full bloom, the beauty of the natural landscape really comes alive.

Lehman’s team created the new course, which opened in 2005, by adding nine holes to the existing nine-hole Green course. In designing the layout, Lehman’s objectives were to utilize and protect the natural washes and native vegetation, create a seamless appearance between the two parcels and to fashion a layout that requires golfers to hit a variety of shots.

“I’ve enjoyed creating a golf course that the members and guests will enjoy, find interesting, feel challenged by and look forward to playing again and again and again,” Lehman said at the grand opening in 2005. “Hopefully everyone’s expectations will not only be met but exceeded.”

Sonoran plays about 700 yards shorter than Catalina, with tees at 6,529, 6,065, 5,240 and 4,579 yards. The par-70 layout, which has five par-3 holes and three par 5s, is rated at 71.0 with a slope of 131. The challenges come from the rolling terrain and 68 bunkers, most of which guard the green complexes. Water comes into play on just three holes and there are two drivable par 4s, both of which present risk-reward scenarios with their heavy bunkering.

One of Lehman’s favorites is the par-3 17th, which plays at 179 yards from the back tee, is perched alongside a mountain, and has a slightly elevated green with bunkers surrounding all sides and a bailout area short-right for those who choose to play it safe. The signature hole might be the deceptive 15th, a par 5 at just 515 yards, but don’t let the scorecard fool you. The slight dogleg left with water on the left has a divided fairway, plays uphill and has a putting surface that is invisible on most approach shots.

The practice facilities here are excellent and include a natural turf driving range, putting green and short-game area conducive to bunker practice, chipping from a variety of slopes and pitching from up to 60 yards away. Resort amenities include the poolside Cabana Bar, Legends Bar & Grill overlooking the 18th green, and Bob’s Steak & Chop House. This intimate resort features 167 well-appointed guest rooms, casitas and haciendas, fitness center, a luxurious spa, swimming pools, hot tubs and tennis courts. It has been named one of Golf Digest’s “75 Best Golf Resorts in North America” and a Conde’ Nast Silver award winner, all with good reason.

Something to consider: With the daily rotation of the 2 golf courses, even a one-night stay lets you tee it up on two terrific courses and enjoy some wonderful amenities at a resort that already was among Arizona’s best, even before it underwent a $90 million renovation in 2008.

Southern Arizona Tucson

Tucson Country Club

Arizona Golf Authority AZGA Arizona Golf Course Review: Tucson Country Club is one of only a handful of grand old golf course gems left mostly intact in Arizona, so it’s not surprising that it’s an exclusive, private club with the highest quality golf and amenities package.

Tucson Country Club was established in 1947 by a small group of people who purchased a 580-acre ranch in a then-remote area surrounded by stunning mountain views and abundant wildlife. That group wisely chose the legendary father-son team of William P. and William F. “Billy” Bell to design their golf course.

Updating projects by Bell family disciples Red Lawrence and Arthur “Jack” Snyder took place in ’63 and ’72. While they retained the classic design elements for which the Bells are well known, they also modernized it in a way that kept it relevant to an evolving game; proof lies in the course’s resume which some consider the most impressive in the state.

Tucson Country Club has hosted 18 USGA championship qualifiers, eight Arizona Amateurs, the 1964 Western Amateur and is the only Arizona course to host two USGA championships – the ’82 Senior Amateur and ’92 Senior Women’s Amateur.

The Club is the home course of Dr. Ed Updegraff, who many consider to be the best amateur player in Arizona history. He won 27 club championships, along with a U.S. Senior Amateur, played on numerous Walker Cup teams and received the Bob Jones Award, the top honor presented annually by the USGA.

So, history is dripping from this facility that once served as rich farming land for Navajo and Yavapai tribes. As for the course, it is a traditional, parkland layout with medium-sized greens, fairways lined with olive and eucalyptus trees, three lakes that bring water into play on five holes, and about 90 strategically-placed bunkers. Four sets of tees range from 5,708 to 6,954 yards with a rating of 72.8 and slope of 130.

Trickery is not part of the challenge, which is formidable, and the proximity of greens and tees makes it a good walk unspoiled. The front nine offers up far more birdie opportunities than the back, which can be a “back-breaker.”

Tucson Country Club

The real “fun” starts with the par-3 12th, which plays at 169 yards from the tips and requires a shot over a small pond. A larger lake borders the right side of the next hole, a 518-yard par 5, but the best is the three-hole finishing stretch.

No. 16 is a 411-yard par 4 with a tight fairway and large bunkers guarding the front-left and front-right of the green, leaving a narrow approach. The 17th, one of the state’s best par-3 holes, plays at 235 with two huge bunkers in front. The 18th offers a 462-yard par-4 with three cross-bunkers in the primary landing area and four more surrounding the green.

The toughest part about playing Tucson Country Club might be just getting to the first tee; regular golf memberships require two sponsors and five referrals on the application. Regular memberships are equity and others are non-equity, including junior, activity, social and non-resident varieties. Other amenities here include one of the finest tennis facilities in the state, with 11 courts, swimming, a fitness center, extensive children’s programs and casual and fine dining.

Read the Arizona Golf Course List AZGA Player’s Arizona Golf Course Review for every golf course in Arizona at

It’s “All Things Arizona Golf” from the Arizona Golf Authority.

Green Valley Southern Arizona Tucson

Torres Blancas Golf Club

Arizona Golf Authority AZGA Arizona Golf Course Review: Of the 10 courses built in the active adult community of Green Valley, about 20 miles south of Tucson, the Lee Trevino design at Torres Blancas ranks in the top three on most people’s list.

Torres Blancas, Spanish for “white bell towers” is nestled in the Santa Cruz River Valley at the foot of the picturesque Santa Rita Mountains, which provide some excellent backdrops. One of Arizona’s largest pecan orchards runs along a portion of the course, which also offers views of landmarks such as Elephant Head peak.

The course opened in 1995 and features three lakes with water in play on five holes, large, undulating greens and rolling terrain with mild desert transition areas. Trevino’s layout is certainly player-friendly until you step back to the tips where it’s loaded with challenges, particularly on the back nine.

Five sets of tees offer a level par-72 test from 5,010 to 7,111 yards; from the tips it’s rated at 72.6 with a slope of 130.

Highlights of the front nine are the 392-yard par-4 second where your approach shot must carry a desert-transition area, and the risk/reward par-4, 327-yard fifth hole, featuring an elusive, narrow, yet drivable green for the big hitters, a layup and tricky short iron approach for the rest of us.

The back nine at Torres Blancas plays 400 yards longer than the front and is the stronger of the two. The thrills begin at No. 12, the 181-yard par-3 signature hole. Only one shot will do; an all-water carry over the lake to an enormous, contoured putting surface.

One of the longest holes in the state of Arizona greets you at the 14th tee – a 648-yard par 5 – where you can shave off some distance if you hug the right side and manage to keep your ball in play. The green is wide open in front for run-ons but tricky to putt.

No. 18 completes the loop with a classic 466-yard par-4 that plays uphill; water threatens on the left. The green complex is a sloping affair with a bunker on the right; par here deserves special notation on the card.

Practice facilities at Torres Blancas include an all-turf driving range, putting and chipping greens. After the round, golfers can relax at The Grill at Torres Blancas restaurant.

Expert golf instruction and most importantly, custom club fitting, is available at Torres Blancas from Gary Blaisdell and his Blaisdell Performance Systems teaching staff. Gary has been improving player’s games and customizing their equipment for over 30 years for one very simple reason; his players improve. If your goal is playing more enjoyable golf than you do today, ask Gary to help. He’ll have you authoring those precise golf shots you’ve often seen, but now they’ll be coming off your own clubface.

Torres Blancas is part of Tucson’s Wildcat Trail network, which offers discount pricing at seven of the Tucson area’s top golf facilities. Directly across the street is Canoa Ranch Golf Club, another quality layout in Green Valley and the sister course to Torres Blancas; ask about the memberships that provide equal access to the two courses.

Read the Arizona Golf Course List AZGA Player’s Arizona Golf Course Review for every golf course in Arizona at

It’s “All Things Arizona Golf” from the Arizona Golf Authority.

Oro Valley Southern Arizona Tucson

The Views Golf Club at Oro Valley

Arizona Golf Authority AZGA Arizona Golf Course Review: Built in 1986 as a private course called Sun City Vistoso north of Tucson, the Views Golf Course now operates as a public facility that was renamed to reflect the panoramic views of the sprawling Santa Catalina Mountains.

The Views, designed by Greg Nash and Jeff Hardin, is a community-owned facility that blends well with its scenic surroundings north of Tucson with large, rolling greens that are slightly elevated.

The front nine meanders through dry washes and arroyos, while the back climbs to higher elevations up to 2,600 feet with elevated tee shots, sharp doglegs and excellent mountain views. Four sets of tees range from 5,111 to 6,715 yards, with a rating of 72.4 and slope of 137 from the tips.

Each nine has an excellent finishing hole. The ninth, a par-4 of 399 yards, has been voted as one of Tucson’s “18 Dream Holes.” It features a split fairway on a hole where the best play is to lay up as close as possible to the edge of large bluff in order to shoot for a green that is surrounded on the right side and behind by a series of large bunkers.

Right behind it, the par-4 10th, at 408 yards, is the only hole with water in play; a lake threatens the left side of the fairway, a smaller pond lurks on the right.

The par-4 18th plays at just 349 yards from the back tee, but a pot bunker at the end of the fairway seems to attract more than its share of shots. The approach shot must be precise as bunkers guarding the entire front portion of the green swallow up anything short and a large bunker positioned in back grabs everything long.

The Views offers annual passes as well as daily-fee rates and has popular 9- and 18-hole leagues for men, women and couples that play weekly events. Members are allowed to use private carts. Amenities include an all-turf driving range and complete short-game practice area. The full-service restaurant called The Café, offers a patio that overlooks the course and provides an excellent spot for post-round libations and scenic mountain views.

Read the Arizona Golf Course List AZGA Player’s Arizona Golf Course Review for every golf course in Arizona at

It’s “All Things Arizona Golf” from the Arizona Golf Authority.