Enjoy old-fashioned golf at affordable Torres Blancas Golf Club near Tucson
GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. -- When you look up Torres Blancas Golf Club on the Internet, you'll see it's located in some town called Green Valley, about 30 miles south of Tucson.
Even worse, it's in the middle of a retirement community. You immediately picture a short pitch-and-putt course that requires six hours to play 18 holes.
This is where you want to play, with so many high-end resort golf courses in Tucson?
Okay, so Torres Blancas isn't Ventana Canyon, Dove Mountain or Westin La Paloma. You're not going to get iced towels, two bottles of water in your cart and a cart girl popping up every few holes.
But if you like an old-fashioned, straight-forward golf course that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, you can do a lot worse than Torres Blancas. Tee times are as low as $17.95 in the summer and never go higher than $55.
"I liked it more than I thought I would," said Phoenix golfer Jeff Simon. "It's a nice layout."
Torres Blancas, designed by Lee Trevino, is anything but your typical retirement course. For one thing, it stretches 7,111 yards from the tips and is more challenging than you might imagine.
As an example, here's the yardage for holes No. 7 through No. 9, all par 4s: 480, 432 and 418. Oh, and No. 18 is a 466-yard par 4 with an elevated green.
So if you think you're going to come to Torres Blancas and start throwing birdies down on your scorecard, think again. Oh, there are birdies out there, but they don't come easy.
"You have to play well," Simon said. "It's easier than some of the desert courses around, but it's not so simple that you can hit bad shots and still score well."
Courses such as Torres Blancas aren't in favor anymore, what with high-end designers favoring layouts that feature forced carries, blind shots and tricked-up greens. But there's something to be said for a course that doesn't play such games.
Golfers can stand on the tee at Torres Blancas and see the green in front of them. The fairways are generous, the bunkers few and it's possible to play a variety of shots around the green, including bump-and-run approach shots.
"I think playability is what people like most about our course," said Anthony Markland, Torres Blancas assistant professional. "It's pretty open. You're not going to lose too many golf balls."
Perhaps the best attribute of Torres Blancas is what's not there: desert. The desert around Tucson and Green Valley is abundant, but enough land was carved out at Torres Blancas that wayward tee shots often wind up in the next fairway and are still playable. In fact, there's not a single saguaro cactus on the property. But there is a grove of pecan trees alongside the back nine.
"We're definitely busy because we're not a desert course," Markland said. "We get a lot of play strictly for that reason. It's player-friendly."
It's difficult to pick out the best hole at Torres Blancas. One choice could be No. 5, a 327-yard par 4 that's drivable -- for big hitters -- but has a narrow green that isn't welcoming to approach shots.
No. 12 is a 181-yard par 3 that's all carry over water. Then there's No. 17, a 529-yard par 5 with a small lake in front of the green that can't be seen from the fairway.
"That's always a fun hole," Markland said.
And Torres Blancas is a fun course. Is it the best Tucson has to offer? No. Is it a good value?
August 23, 2011