As Arizona celebrates its 100th anniversary as a state, it is interesting to note the role of golf in its history. One golf course in southern Arizona stands out because it existed before Arizona claimed statehood. But did you know that women regularly played golf there at that time? A tradition of women in golf is a proud part of Arizona’s heritage.
Turquoise Valley Golf Resort is the oldest continually operating golf course in the state. It has attracted players to southern Arizona since 1908, first as a nine-hole course and eventually as an 18-hole course in 1999. Known for its welcoming environment, Turquoise Valley offers the best of both worlds for golfers. It was selected as one of the Top Ten Beginner-Friendly Courses in the U.S. and boasts the longest golf hole in Arizona, a challenging par-6 measuring 747 yards named the Rattler. (See course review, this issue, on pg 10)
Remarkably, women were avid golfers at Turquoise Valley in the early 1900s. They had a local group documented by this 1910 photo. In 1924 the Arizona Women’s Golf Association was formed and became the umbrella under which women’s golf groups were organized. Turquoise Valley has had an enthusiastic league ever since. According to Beverly Milk, Turquoise Valley member for almost 40 years and AWGA Representative, the group was quite large when the copper mines were running. She said, “Although we’re smaller now, we still play together every Tuesday. The course is lovely, surrounded by mountains. And several walk the course with pull carts. Management is helpful and goes the extra mile for women players. You can instantly make friends when you come to Turquoise Valley.”
Pete Campbell, General Manager, described it by saying, “Turquoise Valley is unique in so many ways. From the relics of Camp Newell and the dormant mammoth excavation sites to the tale of the Mexican revolutionary general, Pancho Villa, crossing the course, the area is ingrained with fascinating history. The course itself is both challenging and fun to play. Combine it all into one package and every golfer will enjoy the overall experience.”
The Arizona Women’s Golf Association presented Turquoise Valley with an Honorable Mention Award for Host Club of the Year in 2009, a testament to the quality of the course and the hospitality of the staff. It is definitely a women-friendly course!
This is the year to visit Turquoise Valley. Immerse yourself in its history. Savor the picturesque surroundings and meet the Rattler head-on. And most of all, remember the early women golfers – the ladies whose passion and commitment over 100 years ago led to the women’s golf community we know today. Congratulations to Turquoise Valley and its women golfers for their place in Arizona’s history.