Best Golf Courses in Tucson
Tucson may not be the golf mecca that nearby Phoenix/Scottsdale is, but Arizona’s second city offers its own treasures. Ringed by mountains and a national park on its doorstep, the best golf courses in Tucson are top-flight courses by renowned golf architects surrounded by natural beauty. Like Phoenix, Tucson boasts 350 sunny days a year, but at an elevation of 2,400 feet above sea level, it is usually about 5 degrees cooler than its northern rival. From October to April, daytime temperatures normally fall within the 65 to 85 degree range.
Considered by many as one of the best golf courses in Tucson, Ventana Canyon Golf Club (featured above) is home to two Tom Fazio-designed layouts, the Mountain and Canyon courses. Each day, this private club makes one eighteen available to public play. The Mountain’s par-three 3rd has been called the most photographed desert hole in all of golf and personifies Arizona desert golf. Both courses are on-site amenities of Loews Ventana Canyon Resort and the Lodge at Ventana Canyon.
At the Westin La Paloma Resort, Jack Nicklaus’ 27-hole La Paloma Country Club helped put Tucson on the golf travel map in the 1980s as not only one of the best golf courses in Tucson but in the Southwest. The J.W Marriott Starr Pass is home to 27 holes of Arnold Palmer golf. Omni Tucson National has two contrasting eighteens. The Catalina Course is a parkland-style Robert von Hagge-Bruce Devlin creation that served as the longtime host of the Tucson stop on the PGA tour; the Sonoran Course is a Tom Lehman desert-style design. Tucson’s newest resort eighteen is Sewailo Golf Club, a Notah Begay III-Ty Butler creation on a Native American reservation at Casino del Sol.
There’s no shortage of public golf course layouts in Tucson as well, including Arizona National Golf Club, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design, which features vast elevation changes and postcard views of the mountains and city of Tucson. Meanwhile, jagged and speckled purple peaks frame the holes at the Tom Weiskopf-designed Golf Club at Vistoso. For bargain tee times, Quarry Pines Golf Club is a unique layout that features dramatic holes set within a former quarry.
The city of Tucson boasts five municipal courses that offer affordable non-resident tee times. The most notable are at historic Randolph Park, where the North at Randolph Golf Course formerly hosted PGA and LPGA Tour tournaments, though the next door Dell Ulrich Course may be the preferred layout to some.
If you are willing to go a little farther afield, the town of Marana 25 north of town offers a high-end concentration of courses. Jack Nicklaus’s 27-hole Ritz-Carlton Golf Club played host to the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship. The nearby Gallery Golf Club’s two John Fought courses (Tom Lehman assisted on the North Course as well) enjoy a similar pedigree, as the South Course hosted the Match Play in 2007 and 2008. The Gallery recently went private, but guests of the Ritz-Carlton can still gain access.
Some 50 miles south on town on I-19, Tubac Golf Resort is home to a Robert Trent Jones, Sr. layout (which later became 27 holes) that was used in the filming of “Tin Cup.”
If you are looking for more reasons to choose Tucson outside of playing at one of the best golf courses in Tucson, the city is known as one of the dining capitals of the Southwest. Lover’s of the outdoors will find that Saguaro National Park offers boundless opportunities to explore the desert. The Arizona-Saguaro Desert Museum is part zoo, aquarium, botanical garden and art gallery. Another favorite attraction is the Pima Air & Space Museum, which showcases aircraft covering the history of aviation and a space gallery. And don’t miss San Xavier del Bac, Tucson’s iconic Spanish mission that dates back to 1692.