Category Archives: Tucson

Golf Ventana Canyon Tucson

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Both award-winning golf courses at The Lodge at Ventana Canyon are early Tom Fazio designs, offering a true desert golf experience in the Santa Catalina foothills.

As Ventana Canyon is a semi-private club, management reserves one course everyday to accommodate members. The superb Canyon course, best suited to players seeking to avoid hills, is available only on odd-numbered days.

For the best scenery and maximum variety and challenges, try to golf the Mountain course, available to the public and resort guests on even numbered days. Around every bend en route to these tee boxes, golfers encounter endless groves of saguaro cactus against mountain backdrops.

Almost every hole on the Mountain course is exceptional with a few real gems, notably, those with elevated tees. The course is trickier than it looks, but never discouraging. Good shots are easy to make from well – groomed fairways and fairly forgiving rough. Both courses feature excellent signage and generous markers that give three distance readings as per flag position.

Indigenous cacti used in the intricate and attractive landscaping highlight entrances to the tee boxes. Large, shiny stones lacquered in black, gold, silver, turquoise and copper designate a separate tee box (many elevated) for five skill levels.

At first glance, putting appears easy thanks to the generous greens. These are quite undulating however and like many desert courses, hard and fast. When reading these greens, remember everything slopes away from the mountain. When shooting toward the mountains, be aware that the elevation is higher and the hills are steeper than they first appear. Take an extra club.

Ventana Canyon is a natural delight. The outdoor café, adjacent a tee box, hosts a diabetic woodpecker that swoops down to grab brown sugar packets off the tables. Nearby, morning doves, cactus wrens and some 20 quail hover nearby awaiting food scraps. Finches and shimmering red cardinals with orange beaks watch from the safety of the trees. Timid cotton-tailed rabbits prefer the tee boxes while roadrunners and the occasional small, sleek bobcat dart across the fairways.

Signs posted in the golf carts warn of potentially hazardous snakes camouflaged in the surrounding desert rough. Best to let that lost ball lie.

January is a good time to visit, as the weather is warm enough for golf and sometimes even swimming. The acacia trees are in bloom giving off a subtle, sweet fragrance all around the property. February marks the beginning of high season.

Cons:

  • No GPS on carts

Pros:

  • Five sets of tee boxes
  • Laid back golf experience
  • Excellent facilities
  • High handicapper friendly
  • Abundant wildlife

Description:

  • Desert style target courses
  • Full swing practice areas with groomed Bermuda grass
  • Short game range complete with bunkers
  • Two large putting greens
  • Tennis, spa and pool on site
  • Roomy, loft-style rooms available

The Lodge at Ventana Canyon

  • 6200 North Clubhouse Lane,
  • Tucson, Arizona 85750
  • Toll Free: (800) 828-5701
  • Local: (520) 577-1400

Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa Tucson

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The Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa bordering Tucson’s Santa Catalina mountains is a great destination for golfers traveling with families as there is plenty to do for non-golfers. Outdoor swimming pools, a waterslide, swim up bar, tennis courts, walking trails and the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa insure many guilt free hours on the 27 holes. Members and guests can play any of these three award winning nine-hole courses. Course designer, Jack Nicklaus, visited Westin La Paloma in April 2008 to redo the greens and bunkers on all holes of the Canyon, Hill and Ridge courses.

Pros:

  •  27 Holes on (over)three courses 5 sets of tees, generous forward tees ease the par 5’s for high handicappers
  • Five interconnected outdoor pools (with waterfalls) and 177 foot waterslide
  • Seasonal dive-in theatre
  • Two separate adult pools with Swim up bar
  • 10 championship tennis courts with 4 clay tennis courts
  • Elizabeth Arden Red Door spa services available
  • All rooms have private balconies
  • Rooms have stone and glass tiles Oversize soaking tubs and separate showers in bathrooms

Cons:

  • Resort fee
  • No parking near rooms
  • Swim up bar closes at 5 p.m. in shoulder/low season
  • Waterslide sometimes closed in shoulder/low season-check first
  • Speeding golf carts on walkways

A member of Golf Digest’s “Top 10 courses in Arizona”, Westin La Paloma uses native vegetation including agave, palo verde, yucca and flowering cacti irrigated with grey (recycled) water to highlight the natural beauty of these three desert courses.

Try to play the Canyon course as it is the most dramatic of the three, with a number of elevated tee boxes and forced carries. It’s also the most beautiful and challenging of the courses. Along with a moguled fairway, the ninth hole of the Canyon course features a landing area protected by sand bunkers on the left and a long grass bunker on the right. A misplaced tee shot will find players crossing this 8-foot deep grass bunker to reach the pin. You may have an audience as you complete the hole, compliments of the suite balconies that surround the green.

The Hill course has the most generous fairways with fewer forced carries off the tee. However, it also has the greatest number of holes with forced carries from the fairways to the greens.

On many of the Ridge course holes, golfers will have to cross some desert rough from the tee, but then it’s mostly fairway all the way to the greens. This course also features some very dramatic views of the surrounding mountains and glimpses of Tucson in the distance. The Hill and the Ridge courses are equally challenging, though not as tricky as the Canyon course.

Golfers who anticipate spending a lot of time on the courses should try to get the resort fee cancelled or reduced as they may not have time to use all the amenities it covers.