The 18th hole at Arizona National begins
with a dramatic elevated tee box with the
clubhouse in the distance and the Tucson
Valley framed behind it. Bunkers line the
right side of the 513-yard par- 5. On the
left, water runs most of the length of the
fairway. The green sits at the far end of the
pond, an inlet running along the left side.
A day earlier we played the Tom Fazio-
PHOTOS COURTESY OF LA PALOMA CC
designed Canyon course at Ventana Canyon
Golf & Racquet Club, which features massive
bunkers, mounded fairways and fast greens.
The course may carry the most panache in
the area, entertaining celebrity golfers including Clint Eastwood and Chevy Chase.
Conde Nast Traveler rated it one of the
top 20 golf resorts in the country.
Without a doubt, the par- 3 third hole on
the Canyon course alone is worth the trip.
Among the most photographed holes in
the country, the 107-yarder is tucked in a
hollow surrounded by a canyon of rocky
outcroppings and cacti.
One of the most entertaining holes is the
par- 5 eighth. Standing right in front of the tee
is a massive Saguaro cactus. Buried in its
arms and body are golf balls lodged deep
in its flesh, perhaps the ultimate unplayable
lie. The hole isn’t difficult for players who
make it past the cactus to the fairway.
As we waited on the tee on No. 14, a
downhill par- 3, in the late afternoon, the
moon peeked out over a notch in the
mountains. In the other direction, the
Sonoran desert spilled to the south toward
Mexico. It’s a beautiful setting.
La Paloma CC at the Westin Resort on
the north edge of the city is another popular choice. Golf Digest calls it one of the
top 10 courses in Arizona.
Designed by Jack Nicklaus, this Troon-
managed course may be one of the tight-
est in the area with a fairly compact layout
wrapped around the resort. A few of the
greens sit on narrow ridges. Don’t worry
about an errant approach shot hitting a
sand bunker here. Instead, shots may dis-
appear into a deep ravine.