The three nines at La Paloma are tough, demanding target golf. Tee shots often require a considerable carry and have to be properly placed. The greens are set close to often unplayable hazards, tightly trapped, severe and quick. Slightly off-line shots vanish into the desert. It's very difficult from the back tees. Mortals in search of life-affirming scores (there's nothing more exhilarating than a good day at La Paloma) should leave them to the gods, play a balata ball and move up. The course is immaculate, the desert alive with rabbits and roadrunners.
Architect: Jack Nicklaus
Year Opened: Canyon and Ridge, 1984; Hill, 1985
Par & Yardage: 36 each for the Hill (3,463), Canyon (3,554) and Ridge (3,534)
Signature Hole: The Canyon seventh is a very long par four from an elevated tee with a forced carry to a diagonal landing area (miss it, you're dead), followed by a seriously uphill second shot across a barranca. Many regard this as Arizona's hardest par four.
How To Get A Tee Time: You must stay at the hotel.
Pro: Dan LaRouere
Address: 3800 East Sunrise Drive
There are three beautifully groomed nines at the Omni Tucson National. The Orange/Gold combination hosts the PGA's Tucson Chrysler Classic every February. The layout is demanding but traditional: wide landing areas; mature trees; occasional ponds (particularly on the finishing holes); and large, elevated, well-trapped Champion Bermuda greens. The shorter Von Hagge-and-Devlin-designed Green nine has tighter landing areas, blind shots and severe elevation changes.
Architects: Robert Bruce Harris (Orange/Gold), Von Hagge and Devlin (Green)
Year Opened: Orange and Gold, 1961; Green, 1983
Par & Yardage: 36, 3,470 (Orange); 37, 3,638 (Gold); 35, 3,222 (Green)
Signature Hole: The ninth on the Gold nine is a par four with a very long reach of water on the right off the tee and another pond far out on the left, about where a hard hook would finish. The second shot is uphill to a severely sloping, wide green.
How To Get A Tee Time: Call the pro shop no more than five days in advance (or thirty days in advance if you're planning to stay at the resort).
Pro: Jon Vesper
Address: 2727 West Club Drive
The Golf Club at Vistoso is perhaps the most balanced course in the area, wonderfully laid out in a gorgeous desert setting, playable and demanding at the same time. Hit the tee shot reasonably well, and you'll love this course. The bent grass greens are appropriately trapped and enormous, built to receive the ball and putt wonderfully.
Architect: Tom Weiskopf
Year Opened: 1995
Par & Yardage: 72 , 6,932
Signature Hole: The eighth, a long par four, sweeps left around a lake to a very large green with traps beyond. You'll have to draw the ball and risk the lake in order to get near the pin.
How To Get A Tee Time: Call the pro shop up to seven days in advance.
carts: Recommended, included in greens fee
Pro: Jay Warren
Address: 955 West Vistoso Highlands Drive