by Larry Berle
When most people think of winter getaway golf in AZ, they think of Phoenix but after three rounds this week in Tucson, This city should move up on your list
Tubac Golf Resort
Today we went to Tubac Golf Resort in Tubac Arizona, about 30 miles south of Tucson. Tubac Golf Resort is where many of the scenes from the movie Tin Cup were filmed. If you loved Tin Cup, then you will find this a very fun place to visit and play golf. There are even signs and plaques depicting where some of the scenes were shot. If you want to hit the 240 yard shot over the water that Roy McAvoy (Kevin Costner) hit— just find the plaque in the fairway and give it a try.
Tubac Golf Resort was founded in 1959 by Bing Crosby and a group of his Hollywood buddies when they bought the Otero Cattle Ranch.(a few of the cattle herd still live on the property)
It is more like a parkland course, than the desert course you would expect to find around here with plenty of trees and surrounding majestic mountains.
There have been over 60 full length movies shot here over the years so Hollywood is very familiar with Tubac. They brought in Red Lawrence to design the course, a man who became known as “The Desert Fox” for his outstanding courses in Phoenix.
We are less than 25 miles to the Mexican border and Interstate 19 south of Tucson is the only stretch of Interstate in the U.S. where the mileage signs are in kilometers rather than miles. Despite all the rumors and tales of the areas near the Mexican border being unsafe, it's not. It is a wonderful stepping off point to visit the border yourself and even go into Mexico. In fact Santa Cruz County has the lowest crime rate in all of Arizona. Many artists have moved here year round so the town is filled with artist studios and galleries.
The resort food is outstanding and the villas make for a very charming get away.
The Gallery Golf Club.
The Gallery is a private club in Marana AZ (a northern suburb of Tucson) and for two years was home to the Accenture Match Play Championship. Troon Golf recently took over management of the course (there are 2 courses, North and South) and there is now limited public play. It’s always a wonderful thing when we can have a private golf club experience available to the general public. Every other day one of the courses is open to the public. There are many wonderful golf courses in the Tucson area that can be accessed by the public and it's thrilling to have the Gallery added to that mix.
Sewailo Golf Club and Casino Del Sol Resort
Casino Del Sol is located in South Tucson, about 8 miles west of the Tucson airport. They have a beautiful concert amphitheater, wonderful spa, and a terrific hotel and casino and now a new golf course, Sewailo, which means “flowering world” in the language of Pascau Yaqui Tribe. The course was designed by Notah Begay, former winner on the PGA tour and commentator on the Golf Channel, but he is perhaps best known as Tigers roommate at Stanford University. This is his third course and if its any indication of what he is capable of, we will see many more from him.
At dinner tonight he told us what inspired some of his design decisions. It starts with lush greenery for a few holes then moves clearly into the desert then back to the lushness with an abundance of lakes, streams and creeks. Approx 10 holes have water in play, including #18 which frames the green with a waterfall. This is much more water than most AZ courses. If your day has been frustrating, the waterfall will bring you to a peaceful conclusion.
Sewailo also has a double green of approx. 24,000 square feet shared by holes #1 and #8, these are rare but Mr Begay told us it was inspired by St. Andrews in Scotland. The beautiful stone bridges will also remind you of St. Andrews for those of you who have been there.
Notah’s two favorite holes out here are #10, a dog leg par five that require three very well placed shots between bunkers and water and #3 a short par 3 over water with terrific views of the casino hotel and Tucson Mountains in the background. One of my favorite holes was #6 a 545 yard double dogleg par 5. A few minutes spent pondering your tee shot can pay off as it challenges you to cut off the dog legs and go straight for the green.
Most of the holes have generous fairways which give you a safe landing area for your drives but you pay for that safety with a longer more challenging approach shot. The fairways are bright green Rye grass and the rough is dormant Bermuda so the shape of the hole is very clear from the tee boxes. The T-1 bent grass greens putt beautifully. All this framed by the flowering plantings of the desert.
One thing to note is the GPS on the carts has outstanding graphics and a touch screen so you can touch a layup or carry area and it will give you the exact distance from your cart. I suggest you get familiar with this feature and use it or you may hit driver on a few holes where you wish you hadn’t. Sewailo has 14 acres of lakes over a mile of creeks and nearly 65 bunkers, so there are plenty of places to get in trouble.
Sewailo is par 72 and has seven sets of tees from 7300 yards tips down to 5209 from the very front. The ladies in our group thought the forward tees were well fitted to their games. The slope and rating are 73.5 and 138 from the Bear Down tees to 69.6 and 123 from the forward tees for women.
They announced today that Sewailo will be the home course of the U of AZ Wildcats golf teams. So go tee it up with the big guys play— I think you will love it.
Other things to do in Tucson and the surrounding area
Old Tucson movie studios
Pima Air & Space Museum www.pimaair.org
Kartchner Caverns (about 30 miles) www.AZStateparks.com/parks/kaca
Biosphere 2 www.b2science.org
City of Tombstone (home of the OK Corral) http://www.tombstoneweb.com