Tucson Golf Guide
Course Reviews Golf Courses Vacation Guide Vacation Quote
  
Departments
  Home
Advertise Here
Course Guide
Course Reviews
Equipment Reviews
Feature Stories
Golf Equipment
Golf Packagers
Instruction
Women’s Golf


Insider
  Accomodations
Resort Reviews
Hot Spot
Tucson Golf Packages
Tucson Map
Vacation Guide
      • Attractions
      • Shopping
      • Dining
      • Night Life

Destination Guides
  Phoenix/Scottsdale
Tucson
Southern Arizona
Northern Arizona

Tour Operators
  Tucson Golf Travel
  Call 1-800-767-3574
Arizona Teetimes
  Call 1-800-767-3574

Interact
  Submit a Press Release
Letter to Editor
Refer this site

Featured Publications
  TravelGolf.com
WorldGolf.com
GolfInstruction.com
Golf Course Realty
GolfAcademies.com

Destinations and... Publications
  USA
  USAGolf.com
USA Golf Courses
  USA East
  GolfCarolina.com
MyrtlebeachGolf.com
HiltonHeadGolf.com
Pinehurst Golf
BrunswickGolfGuide.com
MidAtlanticGolf.com
OldDominionGolf.com
  USA West
  GolfArizona.com
ArizonaVacations.com
GolfCalifornia.com
MontereyGolf.com
LasVegasGolf.com
Mesquite Nevada
  USA North
  GolfIllinois.com
GolfOhio.com
MichiganGolf.com
  USA South
  GolfFlorida.com
OrlandoGolf.com
JacksonvilleGolf.com
TampabayGolf.com
FloridaGolfGuide.com
GolfTexas.com
GulfCoastGolf.com
GolfGeorgia.com
  USA Northeast
  PennsylvaniaGolf.com
GolfNewYork.com
NewJerseyGolf.com
NewEnglandGolf.com
  Canada
  GolfCanada.com
OntarioGolf.com
GolfRockies.com
RockiesGolf.com
TravelGolfCanada.com
CanadaGolfer.com
  Caribbean
  CaribbeanGolf.com
  Mexico
  TravelGolfMexico.com
  Pacific
  HawaiiGolfGuide.com
AustraliaGolf.com
  Europe
  EuropeGolf.com
GolfEurope.com
ScotlandGolf.com
StAndrewsGolf.com
Ireland Golf
England Golf
Spain Golf
Portugal Golf
  Africa
  SouthAfricaGolf.com
  And More!
  BadGolfer.com
NetCaddie.com
Advertising Info
Contact TravelGolf

Free Stuff
  Free Golf Newsletter
PR Service
 
FEATURE STORY Omni Tucson National Golf Resort and Spa

Tucson rises to the
needs of thrifty golfers

By Brendan McEvoy,
Contributing Editor

TUCSON, Ariz. (Jan. 4, 2003) -- In the old days migrants came in droves on stage coaches and horseback. While the vehicles may have changed, the Tucson of the 21st century is still growing, and the suburban sprawl is swelling at the rate of 2,000 residents per month.

More than 750,000 people live in this desert oasis surrounded by four mountain ranges that receives 330 sunny days a year. Sunny, dry days, and more than 30 golf courses available to the public make Tucson a golfer's paradise.

But wait a minute.

Golfer's paradise is a moniker typically reserved for points north. Namely, the Valley of the Sun and the golfing hotebeds of Scottsdale and Phoenix. All the major hotels and resorts have the market cornered on golf in Arizona, right?

Related Links

Talk to those from Tucson, and the answer is "no." The cities have a natural rivalry that stems from its two major universities (University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona State University in Tempe) and lifestyles that differ as much as ancient pueblo and modern stucco. When it comes to golf, their sentiments soften some but not entirely.

While Tucson isn't a major competitor of Phoenix or Scottsdale, it's a viable alternative. The quality of golf is comparable, the pickings are solid and the price is right. In terms of big-name designers, Tucson's roster reads like a who's who of modern golf course architecture: Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones, Jr. and Sr., Tom Fazio, Arthur Hills and Tom Weiskopf all have left their marks here.

"We have quality courses and you play in the mountains as opposed to the Phoenix area, where you play on flat land surrounded with mountains three to five miles away," said Joan Fails, director of golf at Starr Pass Golf Club. "We have anything from traditional Midwest style courses to the most Sonoran Desert golf experience possible. Down here, the desert plant life and wildlife are everywhere -- everything from saguaros to coyotes, road runners, bobcats and deer. Tucson is still rural enough overall to experience a range of natural settings."

Even Phoenix-based golf officials don't deny that Tucson is one of the country's emerging golf destinations.

"It's a gorgeous area with mountains and natural terrain with a lot more opportunity than Phoenix," said Kevin Stockford, director of golf at Starfire Country Club. "But the airport has to make some changes to make it a huge golf destination."

While Stockford's point is well taken -- Sky Harbor International Airport dwafs Tucson International in both size and passenger volume -- it should be pointed out that several myths surround TIA. First, it's not a single engine airfield. Seven major airlines fly into Tucson airport: American, America West, Continental, Delta, Northwest, Southwest and United.

"I go to the Masters every year," said Dennis Palmer, Arizona regional vice president for the IRI Golf Group, owners of four Tucson area golf courses. "Until a couple of years ago, I had to drive to Phoenix to fly directly to Atlanta. Now, Delta flies directly from Tucson to Atlanta, and it's less than it was from Phoenix. And I don't have to drive."

Another prevalent Tucson stereotype holds that it costs up to $100 more and takes at least an hour longer to make a connecting flight. With the traffic surrounding the Phoenix area, the extra hour spent in a connecting flight to Tucson could be the same time it takes to get in and out of Sky Harbor. In the worst case, a plane ticket will cost $100 more to fly into Tucson, money that would have been blown in the first pro shop in Phoenix or Scottsdale.

"Everybody is looking for the best deal they can get," Palmer said. "I'd look for the nicest golf course I can afford. And with the world class facilities in Tucson, it should be extremely attractive alternative to Scottsdale or Myrtle Beach."

Start with the 27 holes at Omni Tucson National Golf Resort and Spa. Designed by Bruce Devlin and Robert von Hagge, this course has hosted the PGA Tour's Tucson Open since 1976 (now called the Chrysler Classic of Tucson). The pros rank the ninth hole on the Gold Course as one of the most challenging finishing holes on tour.

Starr Pass, a cunning design made to challenge PGA Tour players, will rank as one of the top resort courses in January 2005 when J.W. Marriott opens its 450-room hotel next door. Recently, the course underwent renovations to make it more playable to the average golfer. With Marriott making a move in Tucson, every course should benefit.

"If you come here for a week, are you going to want to play the same course every day?" Palmer asked. "I wouldn't. That's a boom for everybody down here."

Palmer even suggested that Marriott's presence could entice other hotel chains to bring their business to Tucson, creating more demand for more air traffic to Tucson and more direct flights for less money.

The Westin La Paloma Resort and SpaRegardless, the high-end courses will be the major beneficiary of the new hotel. The foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains are home to two of those courses, Arizona National and The Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa. Arizona National is a scenic desert design authored by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. The green fairway patches are surrounded by cacti and flourishing desert plant life. The dramatic views of mountains and canyons make for an unforgettable round of golf. La Paloma offers a similar scenic experience with 27-holes of architect Nicklaus at his best.

Other top resort golf courses include Tom Fazio's 36 holes at The Lodge at Ventana Canyon and Greg Nash's 54 holes at The Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort. Ventana Canyon, known as the toughest course in Tucson, but it's softened by views that on a clear day stretch more than 100 miles into Mexico. El Conquistador's two 18-hole parkland tracts meander though desert laced with mesquite trees and other native plant life. The nine-hole course plays up and down the mountainside.

The less-expensive golf is every bit as challenging as the high-end resort courses. The IRI Golf Group's courses in the Tucson-Green Valley area are well-maintained and easy on the wallet. San Ignacio, in Green Valley (30 minutes south of Tucson), rests naturally against the Santa Cruz River's arroyos and ridges. It is known for having some of the truest greens in the state. Back in Tucson, Forty-Niner Country Club has lush rolling fairways that are lined with mesquite, eucalyptus and weeping willow trees.

Tucson has some of the finest municipal golf in the state. The 36 holes at the Randolph Golf Complex celebrated its 75th anniversary this year. Randolph North used to be the home of the Tucson Open and currently hosts the Welch's/Circle LPGA Championship in March. The Fred Enke Desert Golf Course, Silverbell Golf Course and El Rio-Trini Alvarez Golf Course are completely different designs with challenging elements and solid conditions.

Golf is fun, but so are the various other diversions in Tucson like Saguaro National Museum, the Kino Sportsplex (home to spring training for the Diamondbacks and White Sox), Hi Corbett Field (home to spring training for the Colorado Rockies), Colossal Cave Park, the Tucson Raceway Park (home to NASCAR events) and the Kitt Peak National Observatory. Tucson is also known as the best city in the country for spas. The Zagat Survey rated Miraval Spa as the best in the United States, with Canyon Ranch tied for second. The downtown night life has a wide variety of bars, pubs and restaurants.

With more than 30 quality golf courses, green fees $50 to $200 lower than in Phoenix and Scottsdale, sunny weather, and plenty to keep you busy, Tucson is an emerging golf destination.

"It's on its way," Palmer said. "The word about Tucson and its quality golf courses and prices has to get out. We have more bang for your buck."

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.

Free Tucson Package Quote

You can't beat
Tucson golf!
1-800-767-3574

ArizonaGolfPackages.com

[an error occurred while processing this directive]


top of page
The Golf Channel