Friday, May 27, 2022

Arizona National Golf Club – Review

October 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Arizona Courses

Located in Tucson, AZ, Arizona National Golf Club is classic desert golf at its finest.  With breath taking views and plenty of on course challenges this Robert Trent Jones Jr. design offer a great experience for golfers of all ability levels.  The course, opened in 1995, is nestled in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains adjacent to the Coronado National Forest.  The course is the home of the University of Arizona men’s and women’s golf teams and boasts a nice parlor full of team and alumni memorabilia. 

AZ National Hole 11AZ National Hole 13

I have had the opportunity to play the course on a number of occasions and I have been impressed by the level of customer service every time I have visited.  Upon arriving at the course you are promptly greeted by an attendee and your bags are taken from your car.  After checking in and browsing the well stocked pro shop, be sure to visit the driving range before you round; range balls are included in your green fee. The driving range at Arizona National is a nice facility with plenty of room to hit all the clubs in your bag.  If you have not played the course before be sure to take a moment to roll some putts on the practice green; take note that most putts break towards downtown Tucson. 

While the course is not overly long, playing at 6,785 yards from the tips (par 71) it does offer its fair share of challenges.  Be sure to make full use of the GPS provided in your cart; the multiple arroyos and washes on the course make layout and carry yardage a must.  The course conditions will vary depending on the time of year that your visit the course, but I have found that no matter the season the course is still a joy to play.  The club completely redid their greens in 2007 and I have been very impressed with the results.  The course offers plenty of opportunities to score as well as many challenges.  Watch our for holes #9-11, easily the toughest stretch on the course.   Since I have played this course multiple times I decided to provide a hole-by-hole break down below.



Hole-by-hole analysis:

#1 – A tee shot the favors the left side of this hole is your best bet.  The hole has bunkers right that seem to be a magnet for first-hole tee shots.  If you miss right of the bunkers you will likely find yourself in the hazard that lines the right side of the hole.  For longer hitters driver is not necessary, as a nice 3-wood can leave you with a short-iron into the green.  The first hole gives golfers a nice open to the course and provides an early chance to score.

#2 – The first par 5 on the course offers a risk reward tee shot; long hitters can attempt to cut driver over the wash for a chance to reach the green in two.  The safe play off the tee is a nice shot to the edge of the wash, leaving an open layup for your second shot.  Even if you happen to hit a nice drive you still have a very challenging approach to this elevated green, with a carry over the desert near the green.  In my opinion the risk is not worth it on this hole and you are better playing it as a three-shot par 5.

#3 –   The third hole provides golfers with a great opportunity to score.  A driver is not needed of the tee of this slightly uphill par 4.  Tee shots along the left of the hole have a tendency to get a rightward bounce back towards the fairway (depending on the length of the rough).  Be aware of the false front on this green, it generally takes one more club than the distance might indicate.  The green on this hole is well bunkered and the bunkers on the right side of the green make for a challenging up and down.

#4- The first par 3 of the day offers stunning views of the Tucson area, if you have a camera you will want to take a shot on this hole.  Playing slightly downhill the hole is surrounded by bunkers both right and left.  The green slopes from back to front and long is dead so be sure to pick your club wisely.

#5 – The second par 5 of the front nine provides golfers with a great opportunity to get a stroke back.  The hole plays downhill and is very reachable in two.  Watch out for the water right of the green as it tends to gobble up balls.  The bunkers left of the green make for a challenging up and down, if the sand is firm the water can be in play on this bunker shot. 

#6 – A mid-length par 3 that requires you to carry the ball over desert almost all the way to the green.  This holes plays very straightforward with a bunker short and left of the green that you can’t see from the tee box. 

#7 – A dogleg left par 4 that you can play a couple of different ways.  You can play the hole straight up and go right at the bunkers that line the back of fairway; be sure to pick your yardage correctly so that you don’t go in the bunkers or all the way through rough into the desert.  A more adventurous play is to take out the driver and try to cut the corner.  This can leave a short approach to a very accessible green.

#8 – This short par 4 typically only requires an iron or fairway wood off the tee.  While a tee shot along the right side offers a great angle to the hole, be aware of the tree that can impede approach shots if you get too close.  The green on this holes offers its biggest challenge; the back right of this greens runs away making it tough to hold a shot that lands in that area. 

#9 – The final hole on the front nine begins the toughest three-hole stretch on the course.  The ninth is a long par 3 that generally plays one club longer than the distance on the card. There is an ample amount of fairway in front of this green that will allow you to chase a long iron up onto the green.  For some reason this green has always given me fits, so be aware of the subtle sloping on this green.

#10 – The back nine opens with a long par 4 that requires a solid shot off the tee.  There is a fairway bunker down the left side that you will want to avoid or you will be left with an approach of around 200 yards over desert.  What makes this hole so challenging is the approach to an elevated green which is fronted by a desert carry. 

#11 – The first par 5 on the back nine offers golfers a blind tee shot and a lot of yardage to carry.  If you are playing the course for the first time I advise driving past the tee box all the way to the fairway so you can get a better feel for where to aim (this is also advised to make sure the group in front of you is out of the way).  Long hitters can reach this hole in two, but with a green that is wide but not deep, and a wash fronting the green, it is a challenging approach shot.  The smart play on this hole is to layup just in front of the wash leaving an easy wedge into the green.  Watch out for the front right green side bunker as it is big and deep.

#12 – The twelfth hole is a mid-length par three with a back to front sloping green.  They have two sets of tee boxes on this hole, but I don’t think one is harder than the other.   Shots missing the green left will have a hard time staying out of the desert.

#13 – The thirteenth hole is a dogleg right where your line off the tee is very important.  If you cut the corner, aiming over the bunkers on the right, the hole will play much shorter than the yardage on the scorecard.  Make sure that you pick the right line so that you don’t see a well struck tee shot run through the fairway and into the desert. 

#14 – The fourteenth hole always seems to give me a hard when I play Arizona National.  The hole is an average length par 4 that actually favors a slight right to left shot off the tee.  The tee shot on this hole must carry a large wash and avoid bunkers along the left and a deep wash along the right of the hole.  An accurate approach is needed into this large green as it is heavily bunkered.  

#15 – This uphill par 4 offers an open tee shot, with shots hitting along the left side of the hole funneling back towards the center.  Be sure to take the uphill nature of the hole into account with your approach shot or you will find yourself chipping from just off the front of the green.

#16 – The sixteenth holes is a unique par 4 with a small forced carry off the tee.  This hole does not require a driver off the tee; however it does play slightly longer than the distance on the scorecard thanks to its elevated green.  A tee shot hit along the right side of the hole will offer the best angle into this fairly flat green. 

#17 – The final par 3 on the course plays downhill with a desert carry to reach the green. Hitting this large green is no guaranteed par due to the sloping nature of the green.  Be sure to note the pin position as this hole can play one club in either direction depending on where the pin is at.

#18 – Get your camera back out for this hole!  With an elevated tee box the views off from this launching pad are spectacular.  This downhill par 5 offers golfers a chance to score on their final hole.  A well played tee shot will leave you with a chance to go at this green in two, however with water bordering the second half of this hole on the left an accurate shot is required.  A safer play is to layup and leave yourself an easy wedge into the green.  The 18th is a great ending to a fantastic golf course.

Be sure to stop by the restaurant as they have tasty food and a great weekend brunch buffet.  If you are a fan of college golf don’t miss the chance to stop by the University of Arizona wall of fame located behind the 18th green.  You will see names like Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam gracing the wall.  Arizona National is also a great place to hold your next event or wedding.  I have seen a couple of weddings being held at the course and they looked beautiful. 




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  1. az golf says:

    […] with its unique blend of traditional links and desert influences. Golfers meander through theArizona National Golf Club Review | Saturday GolferLocated in Tucson, AZ, Arizona National Golf Club is classic desert golf at its finest. With breath […]

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