Tag Archives: golf

Golf Ventana Canyon Tucson

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.


  • No GPS on carts


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


  • 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

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Golf Las Vegas

For the best in desert golf, head to Las Vegas. Las Vegas courses present unique challenges. For starters, you have to be long and straight to carry the desert gullies interspersed with smatterings of dusty green fairway. The under-watered greens are firm and fast sending even the most artful approach shots bouncing off the surface. After watching one too many balls disappear into the rocky rough, I learned it’s best to roll these shots up from the front of the green. As cool, biting winter winds play havoc with high shots, it’s best to golf here in spring. A golf pro offered us putting tips for local courses.

“ If you’re facing the Snow Mountains, then you’re putting uphill and if it’s the Strip you see then it’s a downhill putt, but faster than most downhills.”

Nowhere would this point prove truer than on the neighbouring TPC Las Vegas course where greens are not over seeded and water is scarcer. Green fees are steeper too on this Audubon certified course, topping out at $175 a round, the price of playing in the footsteps of the greats who last graced the course in 2007. A well stocked pro shop, attractive clubhouse and attentive service almost make up for the lack of GPS carts.

JW Marriott Las Vegas photo credit: John Cameron

A great place for a Vegas golf getaway is the JW Marriott Resort and Spa in Summerlin, 20 minutes west of the Strip. The resort offers free shuttle service to three area courses that are surprisingly varied as well as a free shuttle to the Las Vegas Strip – perfect for fans of the 19th hole. For those seeking a true car free experience, airport pick up can be arranged. 

Across the road from the JW Marriot, the ever popular Angel Park features three Arnold Palmer designed tracks and a real grass putting course. Summer golfers will love the “Cloud Nine” that’s lit up until 11 p.m. to take advantage of temperatures that cool to 90 degrees. The attractive bar and outdoor patio offer some of the best food off the Strip and are excellent spots to enjoy the hazy pink and orange twilights.