Randolph North Golf Course
TUCSON, AZ. - Randolph North is the home of lush fairways, true greens, and every March, the LPGA's Welch's Championship. It combines a mix of short and long holes, which can make for a fun-filled round. Take advantage of the short holes, because par is a good score on the long ones.
The opening hole, a 365-yard par 4, is a perfect example of how easy the short par 4's can play. A wide fairway leaves plenty of margin for error on the first drive of the day. Short iron or wedge remains to a green guarded by a front right bunker. Stay below the hole on your approach for the best chance at birdie. Land above the hole, and you have a fast downhill putt.
The par 4 second plays much harder. It's 420 yards, with trees lining the fairway's left side and a lateral hazard on the right. Further, on the mid-iron approach, large shallow bunkers protect the green's left and a bunker short-right catches bail-out shots. This is actually one of the biggest greens on the course, but the bunkers scare players out of their normal swings. The green's size also makes it difficult to get the ball close on the approach.
Listed at 550 yards, the par 5 #3 actually plays much shorter because the tees are always moved forward. Reachable in two, the key is to find the fairway. Like every hole at Randolph North, this one is lined with trees. On this hole, though, the real obstacle is avoiding the bunkers strategically placed to catch balls rolling through the fairway. End up there and you're playing for birdie, not eagle. The green is protected by a front bunker that is very difficult to chip over and still finish on the green. Below the hole on this uphill green leaves a relatively easy putt.
Possibly the most important two holes on the course are 4 and 5. Both long par 4's, their fairways are tighter and trees are more in play. Number 4 has a wide, uphill green with a front bunker that catches most long irons. #5 has a severe uphill climb to the green which is even more difficult to hit. Two front bunkers catch most shots. Make pars on these two holes and you've survived the toughest Randolph North has to offer.
The only short par 3 is #6. At 137 yards to an elevated green, two front bunkers provide the only real obstacles. The tough part is the uphill green. Very large, with ridges running through, it's tough to get approach putts close. However, it is a short hole, so you do have a good chance for birdie with a precise tee shot.
The front nine concludes with a 478-yard par 5. Easily reachable in two, you're further assisted by the widest fairway on the course. The second shot will be over water, which only comes into play if you catch your shot thin. The large uphill green has a steep uphill bunker in the front right. There's plenty of green to work with on a chip, so coming away with par is disappointing.
The back nine starts with straightforward holes similar to the front's. Then you arrive at #15, a 205-yard par 3 over water. It's the best golf hole on the course. The water runs from the tee box and wraps around the back of the green. Hit the green or you're in the water. The green does hold well, so you can knock it close and make birdie. Of course you can play safe to the far right to avoid the water. If the pin's back left, however, you're left with a thirty-yard putt . Once on the green, one can't help but enjoy the beautiful waterfall off to the side.
The 560-yard, par 5 #16 is also very challenging. A dogleg left, play to the left or your ball will run through the fairway into the trees. The second shot is important because you'll want to advance the ball as far as possible. But stay in the fairway. Water guards the left side of the green which is severely elevated, adding an extra five yards to the shot. Again, this very large uphill green could leave you with a long difficult putt. A front pin placement is the hardest, because the water looms close so players hit to the back.
Randolph North finishes with a 440-yard par 4. To par, you must find the fairway off the tee. Otherwise, trees are so dense on the right that all you can do is chip out. The very large, undulating green makes it difficult to get the approach putt close, resulting in the dreaded four-footer for par. After these tough shots, you'll know how your game responds to pressure. Number 18 is an excellent finishing hole, but we would expect nothing less from this fine championship course.