The JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa is home to three unique and excellent nine hole courses. Bob Cupp, and PGA Tour Professional, Craig Stadler, together designed and built a first class desert golf experience that offers stunning views of Tucson and the surrounding mountains and some fun golf holes that are fair but challenging for all skill levels. During your round you'll find natural arroyos, contoured sweeping fairways, dramatic elevation changes, bunkers of shapes and sizes, challenging green complexes, uphill and downhill shots, and swirling winds created by the Tucson Mountains – all of which require you to focus on your club selection and shot making if you want to score well.
The original 18 holes opened for play in 1986 and was home to the Tucson Open between 1987 and 1996. Arnold Palmer was hired to redesign the original 18 holes and add another 9, creating a fantastic Arnold Palmer Signature golf Facility with 27 of some of the best golf holes in Tucson. Each of the three Starr Pass courses wind up and down the Tucson mountains and are aptly named for the ever present desert wildlife – Rattler, Roadrunner, and Coyote. Each of the nines is different and unique and has it's own personality:
- Rattler Course – the Rattler nine is the most challenging and is a true test of your game with the smallest pocketed greens and this nine requires a lot of target golf – we thought it was the most scenic and seemed to be in the best condition from the tee box to the pin
- Roadrunner Course – chiseled out of the side of the Tucson Mountains, Roadrunner starts just outside the JW Marriott Resort and this nine offers dramatic elevation changes and some very fun and challenging holes – it is also the shortest of the nines at 3217 and carries a par of 35 with three great par 3s
- Coyote Course – the terrain on Coyote is completely different and this nine seems more natural as it traverses up and down the Tucson Mountains and it has fewer homes dotting the hillside, some very interesting holes, and more wildlife than the other two nines
Common to all three nines is a true Sonoran Desert luxury golf experience, excellent conditions, first class service, and top notch facilities including the JW Marriott Resort and Spa and a 20,000 square foot clubhouse. You may also find that some of the holes at Starr Pass may frustrate you, enamor you, drive you to the beverage cart, or leave you scratching your head regarding Arnold's true intent. But one thing that is bound to happen is you'll walk off the 18th hole saying that was "awesome" and thinking when you can get back to play it again.
As we reflected back on our golf at Starr Pass we were awe inspired:
- Each golf hole was lush and plush from tee to pin
- There were awesome panoramic vistas of Tucson, the valley, two mountain ranges, and some stunning homes dotting the hill side
- The contrast between the desert, lush fairways, sand bunkers, and fairway rough was striking
- The desert fauna was varied and colorful and wildlife was running wild across the course
- Service and the facilities were top notch
- And we played some fun, unique, memorable, and challenging holes
It just doesn’t get much better than all of that!
Starr Pass's Coyote has a completely different look and fee than the other two nines – the terrain seems less hostile and gentler (it is because I didn't get pricked to death by cactus looking for my golf ball?) and more natural with fewer homes as it plays up and down the foothills of the Tucson Mountains. Coyote is also home to a some interesting history – the sixth hole plays along the Starr Pass stagecoach trail where in 1880 Richard Starr ran stagecoaches through the pass to give visitors a an opportunity to experience the wilds of western Tucson. And what a fantastic and fun hole – a short 351 yard par four that will temp to to pull out the big dog and risk trying to fly the uphill blind shot through a narrow slot to a downhill green with a huge bunker procting a green with no room for error.
Coyote is the most lady friendly of the 27 holes at Starr Pass thanks to less forced carries, but it is still no walk in the park for men or women. You'll encounter blind shots, slots, well protected and elevated greens, strategically placed bunkers of all shapes and sizes, elevation changes, and contoured and sloping fairways that at times seem pretty tight. And some very fun and interesting holes. A fantastic nine holes that you'll want to play again.
Like all the nines, the conditions on Coyote are excellent, the greens have slope and undulation and are in great condition, and the bunkers can cause you some real trouble.
Rating and Slope was based on Coyote/Rattler Course play.
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Service is excellent form the bag boys to the pro shop to the starter and the the cart lady. The 200,000 square foot club house is home to a well stocked pro shop and a good restaurant. The practice facility is excellent.