Arthur Pack Desert Golf Course: A public gem in the Tucson desert
TUCSON, Az - Arthur Pack Desert Golf Course is one of the best conditioned public courses in southern Arizona. In fact, each year when the course hosts the Tour's Monday qualifier for the Tucson Open, at least one of the pro's will remark how Arthur Pack's greens roll better than some on Tour. The greens are receptive to incoming shots, but still fast enough that you don't need to worry about the grain. Just pick the line and make a good a stroke. In addition, this year for the first time the fairways were overseeded, putting this course in pristine condition.
Arthur Pack opens with a 400-yard par 4. It's a dogleg right over desert with a fairway bunker on the opposite side. Both can be cleared with a 260-yard carry. Otherwise, a solid tee shot down the fairway will leave a short iron second over water. Be sure to take enough club; the stealthy wind adds a club to the approach. One bunker left and two right protect the green. If you hit the green in regulation you won't be left with a very long birdie putt. Here's a tip: the ball doesn't break toward the water; it's just straight-in.
Holes 2 through 5 are short and straightforward. Take advantage of them. Then, #6 is a 411-yard par 4. Desert lines the fairway's left, and small trees separate the right side from #5. The difficulty is on the approach. A lake left of the green swallows any shot that misses to that side. Bail out right and there's a large, steep-faced bunker that plays back toward the water. Finally, if you find the green, hopefully you're on the proper tier. This green slopes severely and long putts are difficult to get close. With a precise shot, though, you will have a good birdie opportunity and a chance to pick up at least one stroke on your competitors.
Number 7 is a 140-yard par 3 back over that same lake. This is an easy hole and needs to be birdied. It's followed by a snake-like 569-yard par 5. Desert is off both sides of the fairway, demanding a straight drive. Advance the second shot up the fairway staying left of the bunkers at 120 yards. The third shot is into a shallow, horizontal green. There are three sections, hidden from the fairway, making it difficult to birdie. Two steep-faced bunkers left and another long aren't easy to get up-and-down from. This hole demands five good shots, which is why it's the number one handicap hole.
The front nine finishes with the mirror image of #1, except the dogleg is over #1's lake. It plays easier, though, and begins the last stretch of birdie holes, 9 through 12. They're short and straightforward and need to be played well because the next two are much more difficult.
The greens make #13 and 14 so tough. Number 13 is a 182-yard par 3 over water. The green slopes so violently that with a putt from above the hole, it's virtually impossible to keep the ball on the green. Three putts on this hole are very common. The 440-yard #14 has an elevated tee, negating some of the yardage. However, you'll still hit a mid-iron into the pallet-shaped green. This green slopes away from the center, making it very difficult to stop an approach even close. If you hook your second, then the ball will bound twenty yards left, leaving an almost impossible up-and-down. Instead, slice your second so you have an uphill chip. If you survive these two holes unscathed you know you're playing well.
The last true birdie hole is #15, 555 yards and reachable in two. Carry the right fairway bunker 265 yard out. You'll get an extra 25 yards of roll and only 250 yards will remain. Half of the green is protected by desert, so an attempt in two played over the desert is risky. The conservative play is to the green's front left. But watch out, as two bunkers left and one short are perfectly positioned to catch such cautious plays. Luckily, a shot from the front bunker is relatively simple, so you can make your sandie for a birdie. If you play the hole conventionally, you'll have a wedge approach. An accurate shot leaves a short birdie putt.
Arthur Pack closes with an uphill, 391-yard par 4. A 25-yard-long fairway bunker is on the right starting at 125 yards. Two more are left for drives that run through the fairway. A short-iron or wedge is very difficult to play from the fairway bunker, so lay back around the 150-yard marker. The uphill second to a firm, elevated green is difficult to get close. Bunkers left and long help protect the green. It's downhill and difficult to make birdies on, with over-zealous attempts running five feet past. Instead, cozy your first putt up near the hole for an easy tap-in.
Arthur Pack's fine condition gives you the opportunity to hit solid golf shots and be rewarded. Even if you're not on top of your game that day, you can still shoot a good score by making your putts. Just find the line and make a good stroke.
December 21, 1998