The Westin La Paloma in Tucson is home to 27 outstanding golf holes that were designed by Jack Nicklaus in 1984. This magnificent private golf club is available for guests of the Weston La Paloma Resort and each of the three nines is a Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and one of his original creations. Each course has it's own unique characteristics and personality and it was impossible for us to pick a favorite – you'll definitely want to play all three:
- Hill Course – the "Golden Bear" redesigned the bunkers and greens on the Hill Course and it's the new greens and bunkers plus the rolling and heavily contoured fairways which distinguish this fun track from the other two nines.
- Ridge Course – this nine has scenic vistas, elevation changes, flatter fairways, and greens with subtle breaks – the Ridge is the most popular with the ladies because it has the fewest carries from the forward tee boxes. To learn more, read our review of the Ridge Course.
- Canyon Course – this nine has the reputation of being the hardest of the three courses thanks to some dramatic elevation changes, narrow fairways, some really fun holes, and very challenging approaches. Click on the link to learn more from our review of the La Paloma Country Club Canyon Course.
La Paloma Country Club has a reputation of being one of the best as well as toughest courses in the Tucson area thanks to dramatic elevation changes, forced carries off the tee as well as on the approach shots, plenty of bunkering, challenging greens, and contoured fairways lined with berms, swales, and mounds.
Common to all three courses at La Paloma Country Club are very good conditions, scenic vistas of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains and the Tucson valley, excellent service, upscale amenities, and fairways lined by a distinctive desert-scape of flowering cacti, yucca, agave, mature mesquite and Palo Verde trees, and other native vegetation – all of which are meticulously maintained by Troon Management. In April a lot of the desert fauna bloom with a variety of vibrant colors. During your round keep an eye out for quail, dove, toads, lizards, bobcats, javalinas, coyotes, and owls all of whom want to share the course with you at dawn and dusk.
All of that has contributed to La Paloma Country Club winning a number of awards and high accolades, some of which include:
- rated one of the "Top Ten Courses in Arizona" and included in the "Top 75 Resort Courses in the United States" by Golf Digest
- named in the "Top 100 Women-friendly Golf Courses" by Golf for Women
- ranked in the "50 Best Golf Resorts in the World" by Conde Nast Traveler
- in 2011 awarded Golf Week's "Best Courses Distinction Award"
- named "Top Golf Course" by Zagat
We loved the Hill nine and found it to have a very interesting layout that is challenging but fair with lots of variety and some really fun holes. During your round you'll find near perfect greens and fairways, plenty of bunkering and natural areas, forced carries from almost every tee box, some good risk reward opportunities, and very scenic vistas of the Santa Catalina mountains and the Tucson valley – it just doesn't get much better than all of that.
Some of the holes that we really liked include:
- #2 which requires great course management to avoid a long natural bunker along the right leading to a minefield of seven bunkers in a semi-circle around the fairway just in front of a natural waste area guarding the approach to a slightly uphill green
- #6 sweeps downhill through a valley of tall mounds on each side of the fairway and requires a carry over a ravine and natural area (which you do not want to land in) leading to a green with little room for error
- #7 is a jaw dropper from the tee box – a 538 par 5 with a big forced carry offering a perfect risk reward opportunity from an elevated tee box to try and carry the natural area leading from in front of the tee box all the way to the green and then your approach shot will need to carry a natural area to a well guarded green
- Jack redesigned the green on #8 and was voted down on his idea to add a sand bunker in the middle of the green – so he added a big swale in the middle of this 157 yard par 3 green which also has 4 other bunkers guarding it
- you'll remember #9 and it'll make you want to come back and play the Hill nine again – two forced carries to an uphill green with huge swales and a grass bunker guarding the front and a what looks like a black diamond mogul ski run at Vail protecting the back side of the green
The fairways are ample from tee box to green but heavily contorued and rolling as well as lined with natural areas, bunkers, swales, and tall ridges. All of which means you can expect some uneven lies. If you miss the fairway, in most cases you'll find a first cut that is playable and then a manageable rough (which was dormant when we played) – after that you're most likely lost in the natural areas which you typically don't want to enter thanks to the wide variety of very sticky cactus. Speaking of cactus, on several tee boxes you'll need to avoid the stately tall saguaros which can block your shot and devour your ball. When we played in late March, the fairways were in perfect condition, soft and lush, and like velvet.
Greens on the Hill Course at La Paloma Country Club were redone in 2009 and the Golden Bear made that a bear – plenty of slope, undulation, contour (a couple felt like a roller coaster ride), and tiers! And most are well guarded with tall mounds, swales, collection areas, and some challenging bunkers. They were in excellent condition, ran around 10 to 11, were true but challenging to read. Pin placement can be a killer. The Hill Course greens vary for a tad small to huge but with lots of contour. Most of the greens were above average size. Practice putting before you head out.
Jack also redid all of the bunkers and they are also near perfect – white, fluffy, thick sand. The lips of the bunkers vary from small to fairly deep and very challenging if you land near the lip.
We stayed at the magnificent Westin La Paloma Resort and played all three courses – loved the Resort and all of it's amenities and we can't wait to get back again. Here is a link to our review of the Westin La Paloma Resort. They have a variety of different stay and play packages that are a pretty good deal.
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Service is good, the pro shop is stocked with everything that you need, the practice facilities are very good, and the club house is spectacular. The restaurant overlooks the course and the mountains and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.