Every now and then we golfers need a little pampering. We want to feel like a member of an exclusive club and experience all the benefits that has to offer, without having to actually join the club. When I want to satisfy that feeling I go play golf at Ventana Canyon. Situated high up against the Catalina’s on the North East side of Tucson, Ventana Canyon certainly has to be one of the premier golf facilities in Southern Arizona, if not the entire country. From the moment you arrive you know instantly that this is a first class operation.
There are two Tom Fazio designed courses aptly named, The Mountain and The Canyon. The Mountain course starts you with a relatively benign par 4 and then gets real interesting as you start your climb up the side of the mountain. The third hole par 3 has been touted as the most photographed hole west of the Mississippi, and for good reason. At only 107 yards from the tips, the hole consists of only the tee boxes and the green, everything in-between could be considered an abyss and everything behind the green is a rock wall. Following that is a great par 5 that definitely calls for three accurate shots; desert to the left and water to the right doesn’t leave much option except down the middle.
The Canyon course winds through the inspiring beauty of Esperrero Canyon and lush desert landscape. Perhaps one of the most unique features of this course is the iconic Whaleback Rock, sort of a miniature Ayers Rock from Australia. This massive formation runs the length of the 10th green and can bounce any approach missed left to who knows where. The par 5 number 18 is a stunning beauty. Once you have navigated your way down the fairway to the approach shot, your attention is distracted by the man made waterfall behind the green. The sound of the waterfall creates a pleasant audible hazard and hitting that approach long will put you in the not so pleasant water hazard.
In addition to two golf courses there are two choices of accommodations for your winter visitors or when you want a weekend getaway. The Lowes Ventana Canyon is an impressive piece of hotel architecture with a variety of guest amenities and dining. The boutique Lodge at Ventana Canyon is owned and operated by the members, who also by the way own the golf courses. The Lodge is a wonderful and intimate resort with some of the best suites anywhere. With full kitchens and room to entertain, they are perfect for golf vacations with family or friends. Weather staying at Ventana Canyon or just there playing for the day they treat their guests like members and their members like guests. That is a great philosophy with which to run a golf club and hotel.