We eagerly anticipated our visit to the Westin La Paloma Resort in Tucson, which allowed us to play the La Paloma Country Club.
The semi-private golf course is split into three nine-hole layouts. While the Canyon and Ridge nines opened in 1984, the Hill nine was added two years later. From our room, we could see the gently undulating fairway and well-manicured ninth green of the Hill course. As is common with Nicklaus’ courses, the fairways are broad, and the bunkering is plentiful and deep. In fact, as a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, many holes are best played from left to right. Thus, the starters general advice is to stay left of the 150-yard barber pole, and you’ll be fine getting onto the green.
There is no doubt that the La Paloma Country Club at the Westin La Paloma Golf Resort is not a typical resort course. On balance, it will test you. Consequently, pick from six different tee grounds to find the perfect yardage. Mostly, holes wind through an upscale community in this metropolitan area of about one million people, home to the University of Arizona. Most holes have beautiful views of the Santa Catalina mountains. On higher elevation tee grounds, the views are magnificent. The service for Westin La Paloma resort guests is the same superb service given to members. Nevertheless, the clubhouse grill inside is reserved for members hence inaccessible to resort guests. Guests sit outside on the patio. The Ridge/Canyon course is #26 in Arizona by Golf Magazine’s 2016-17 ranking.
The Ridge Nine
Nicklaus creates undulating fairways and waste areas across the fairway and long waste areas abutting the fairways on several holes. In like fashion, menacing green-side bunkers are also a staple of Nicklaus design, and this is no exception. As a matter of fact, cacti are often in the way of tee shots judging by the holes in them.
The Canyon Nine
All things considered, the Canyon nine is definitively the most difficult of the three nines. Severe undulations effectively narrow some fairways. Similarly, approach shots often must challenge pin placements with green-side swales narrowing the effective green size. An elevated tee shot on the Par4 Hole #7 is our favorite. The lack of fairway bunkers here encourages you to shade the corner to have a shorter club into a steeply uphill approach shot.
The Hill Nine
We finished on the Hill nine, the easiest of the three nines. Fairways are flatter and bunkers are less frequent. That being said, bunkers in center of the fairway on the Hole #2 protect the short Par4. Due to large and moderately contoured greens, three putts are common if you lose your focus. The approach shot requires crossing a swale to a plateaued green sitting below the clubhouse surrounded by a deep undulating amphitheater.
The La Paloma Country Club at La Paloma Resort is everything we expected and more. Each nine brings a different ambiance and challenge. As expected, playing these 27 holes was one of the most enjoyable days of our trip.
See high resolution photos and course profiles on my website at https://www.quintessentialgolf.com/destinations/la-paloma-golf-resort/
If You Go
Course Info – La Paloma Country Club (www.lapalomacc.com) is a semi-private club with 27 holes consisting of the Ridge, Canyon and Hill nines. Guests of the adjacent Westin hotel enjoy access to the golf course.
Location – In the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, Arizona. About 110 miles south of the Phoenix airport and 15 miles north of the Tucson airport
Lodging – The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa is adjacent to the course.
Quintessential Golf (https://www.quintessentialgolf.com)
A source of golf travel inspiration, Quintessential Golf online magazine spotlights the most spectacular, enduring and scenic courses, resorts and golf adventures. Written from a players point-of-view, articles include magnificent high-resolution course images. Brought to you by Chuck Fox, single-digit golfer, writer and photographer based in Danville, California, he is fulfilling his passion and dream to play, photograph and share the romance and beauty of golf throughout North America.
By Chuck Fox, Owner, Quintessential Golf, Resident since 2012