Del Lago in Spanish means “the Lake” and that is a great choice of name for this very interesting golf course just 20 minutes south of downtown Tucson, heading east on I-10. Although more appropriately the name should be Los Lagos meaning “the lakes,” for there are in fact nine bodies of water on the course. While that may seem scary, for balls hit into water generally don’t float too well, at del Lago the lakes help to define the beauty of the course and mostly come into play with really errant shots. But there is more to the attraction of this Nugent and Associates design. Many of the holes play through the hills and valleys of the high desert, alongside the Pantano Wash and offer spectacular views of the Rincon and Santa Catalina mountains.
The course is very user friendly. Target areas are well defined by the now dormant Bermuda grass and missed shots can often kick back onto the immaculate green fairways. There are very few forced carries over the desert and no blind shots to hidden pins. The course made a wise decision in 2010 and decided not to over-seed the fairways, giving the turf a year to grow stronger and healthier without having to compete with the winter rye grass. That makes for a wonderful playing surface this year and into the future. One of the most interesting design features of the course is found on #11. The hole is a mid-length par four that bends around the shoreline of one of the lakes. That shoreline is one big sandtrap… I guess I would really call it a beach, for the sand blends right into the water all the way to the hole, very cool effect. The par three #16 looks benign since it has no water, but it is fronted by a family of very deep faced bunkers and has a large three putt-able green (I know this personally). To finish up your round you get to play the attractive and “audible” #18. The sound of the gentle series of waterfalls down the left side of the fairway and right of the green can be very soothing, but don’t get lulled to sleep on this very tricky uphill par four…. A spectacular finishing hole that leads you home to the clubhouse and a well deserved cold beverage.
The clubhouse encompasses a well-stocked pro-shop and a very comfortable 19th hole. If you need to work on any part of your game before or after your round, the practice facilities at del Lago are some of the best around. Plenty of slots on the driving range mean no waiting to hit balls and the short game area replicates every shot you need. The practice green is huge and is right in front of the clubhouse and before the first tee. Better make a few putts before playing the slippery Tif Eagle greens, it will pay off for you on the course.