Mountain Course Rises Above Competition

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

TUCSON - Just how difficult are the courses at Ventana? Lamberti considers the Mountain Course to be not only the most difficult course in Tucson, but also one of the most difficult in the entire state.

"La Paloma has some hard things going one over there," says Lamberti with a serious air of pride. "But the Mountain Course is right there as one of the hardest in Tucson and the state.

Make that one of the hardest, and the most memorable. It all starts with the Mountain Course's signature hole - a 107 yard par-3 that plays from an elevated tee box into a mounded green. If you've ever perused a photo laden golf publication, you just may have seen a picture of what many regard as the most photographed hole west of the Mississippi.

And with the 3rd hole, the Mountain Course is just getting warmed up according to Lamberti.

"The 12th hole is a par-5 that has a real tight fairway and is real long ... the toughest hole on the course. The 17th is a great hole because there are so many different club choices off the tee and you see your drive float up into the mountain."

The Mountain Course culminates with one of the great finishing holes in all of Arizona, which from the tee box provides golfers with views to the south that stretch over 100 miles to the Mexico border.

Perhaps you have played a desert course that continually left you guessing as to yardage and distances - a course riddled with optical illusions. The Mountain Course at Ventana would not be that course, because Fazio has utilized some of the crispest shaping of fairways and bunkers that gives a player the depth perception needed to make good club selections.

But be weary of the courses elevation, warns Lamberti. "A lot of people hit long here, but that is because of the elevation of the course at 3000 feet (600 feet higher than the city below.)"

But just because the elevation provides for some gorilla drives, any celebration of golfing dominance is premature on the Mountain Course (and the Canyon Course for that matter), until the ball is physically in the cup.

"The battle just begins when you get on the green," says Lamberti. "We have very fast greens ... they are extremely true. We do have medium size greens, but because we are on the side of a mountain, the greens are very hard to read. The mountain effects the greens dramatically."

And drama, you'll find, is what the Mountain course is all about.

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of from 1997 to 2003.

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