Happy Gilmore in Tucson

By Scott Behmer, Contributor

Tucson, AZ - Who would think that Adam Sandler would vacation right here in Tucson? Of course, with perfect weather, a bevy of top designs to choose from, and numerous luxury resorts at his fingertips, it shouldn't be so surprising. When Sandler needs a break between making blockbuster movies, he enjoys retreating to Tucson's Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf Resort and Country Club.

The Conquistador Course
The Conquistador Course boasts plush fairways.
The Conquistador Course
If you go

Sandler, who's been an avid golfer since his teen years, looks for the ideal combination of a top-flight resort offering a peaceful golf course. Hence, he stays at El Conquistador, which offers the most golf of any resort in Tucson, 45 holes, as well as renowned resort accommodations.

Facilities include two workout gyms, heated pool, basketball and tennis courts, horseback riding, spa, and Sandler's personal favorite: massages. In fact, there are three styles, Swedish, Polarity, and Tucson's original hot stone massage therapy.

When Sandler wants to turn into Happy Gilmore, he has three options, the nine hole Pusch Ridge Course, which is on-site at the resort, or the two 18 hole layouts, Conquistador and Canada, which are at the country club ten minutes away. A complimentary shuttle service is available for rounds at the country club.

Sandler has been know to tee it up at the Ridge course at just about any time during the day. The convenience of walking from his room to the course and hitting the links in under five minutes is unbeatable.

The Ridge Course pro shop offers a small selection of golf apparel and equipment, but much of it is adorned with the El Conquistador logo, ideal for momentos of your vacation. The practice facilities are small, consisting only of a practice putting green and short game area.

On course, it's one of the most difficult nine hole sets in Tucson. Measuring a modest 3,300 yards from the tips and 3,000 from the mens, Sandler's tee box du jour, accuracy, not length is key. Mature shade trees line the fairways and often eliminate one side of the fairway, unless you can work your ball around the trees. Further, elevation changes add length and difficulty.

Typically, the greens are guarded by a couple of bunkers, and often times dramatic slopes penalize shots off the putting surface. The greens roll nearly 9 on the stimpmeter, but their undulations severely affect the speed.

Overall, the Santa Catalina Mountains in the immediate background create a stunning backdrop, and the peaceful journey through the nine make this an excellent place for a challenging, yet relaxing round.

When Sandler has enough time for 18 holes, he'll head to the country club, which offers full-size locker rooms including pool table, a large grass driving range, short game practice areas, practice green, and full scale pro shop. After undergoing a two-phase $2.1 million dollar renovation the last two years, the courses are improved and have been renamed.

The Conquistador Course, formerly Sunset, is the more difficult of the two. Measuring over 6,800 yards, it requires accuracy off the tee or you'll end up in rough, houses, or desert. Many greens are elevated, forcing you to factor in the desert breeze accordingly. This is a very challenging loop that will be enjoyed round after round.

The Canada Course, formerly Sunrise, just opened for play last November and is rounding into shape. Some of the greens and tees were reworked as well as other course improvements. While also measuring over 6,800 yards, it plays shorter, often requiring only a long iron off the tee. Accuracy here is also key for both the tee shot and approach.

After a round at the country club, Adam enjoys relaxing in the upstairs dining room. Looking out over #1 of the Conquistador Course, you can dine on one of the delicious entrees. If you just want a quick bite to eat before heading home, then stop off at the snack bar which offers hot dogs, sodas, and excellent fries.

While there are no accounts of Adam Sandler actually showing off his Happy Gilmore swing at El Conquistador, we know that when he's out there by himself at sundown, he's working on it. As hard as that swing is on one's back, it's no surprise that he loves the massages.

So next time you're at one of El Conquistador's courses and think you see Happy Gilmore teeing off, it's no fluke. Adam Sandler does hit the links in Tucson.

Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Resort Pusch Ridge Course
10000 North Oracle Road
Tucson, Arizona 85737
(520) 544-1770
Round: $44

El Conquistador Country Club
10555 North La Canada Road
Oro Valley, Arizona 85737
(520) 544-1800
Conquistador: $59
Canada: $49

Scott Behmer, Contributor

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