18 Holes are for the Weak: A Look at Arizona's Multi-Course Facilities

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

TUCSON - Are you the type of golfer who likes to get up at sunrise, strap on the spikes, put on your game face and not come home until the sun goes down? If so, multi-course golfing facilities should be your bread and butter - the method to your madness.

Arizona Biltmore Resort's Adobe Course
A small stream runs through the Arizona Biltmore's Adobe Course.
Arizona Biltmore Resort's Adobe Course
If you go

Whether its to settle a bet with a relaxing "Whiskey Nine", or just to feed the golf addiction that so many duffers have, multi-course facilities are a hit with almost everyone who tees it up on a regular basis.

"If a facility has 27 or 36 holes of quality golf, you can bet I'll be back time after time," says Jay Sanders, a scratch golfer from Atlanta who frequently sojurns to Arizona to get his fill of desert golf.

"I rarely settle for 18 holes of golf, so if a facility has additional courses it just saves me a drive over to another course," says Mike Riggs, a die hard Mesa golfer.

While they are the exception, and not the norm in Arizona, the Grand Canyon state is host to a wide variety of 27 and 36 hole facilities that will keep you driver deep in golf from breakfast to supper.

Here is a sampling of top shelf, multi-course facilities that you can sink your teeth into:

Valley Of The Sun

The Arizona Biltmore Country Club features 36 holes of resort style golf, boasting a traditional parkland style course in the Old Adobe Course, and a links style course in the Links Course. The Biltmore Resort and the Old Adobe Course were built back in 1930, when the city was miles away and the resort was on the fringe of town.

The Biltmore's Links Course opened in 1979, and the connection between the Adobe Course and the newer Links Course represents one of the truly unique spatial relationships in Arizona Golf - the old park-style Adobe Course is virtually surrounded by the newer Links Course. Tee Times - (602)955-9655.

Gold Canyon Resort: Gold Canyon Resort features two 18 hole layouts, one a first class championship course, the other a first rate bargain.

The Dinosaur Mountain Course was recently rated the number two course in the state by the subscribers of Arizona Business Journal. While Golf Magazine or Golf Digest the ABJ is not, subscribers are no dummies and these savvy critics just happen to know what anyone who has played at Dinosaur Mountain knows: this is desert golf as it was meant to be.

With its ridiculously low greens fees ($100 for a foursome during the summer months) the Sidewinder Course is geared towards local clientele who want to play a quality course without losing their shirts. While it does not tackle as challenging terrain or offer up as many breathtaking views as its neighbor, the "Winder" can hold its own with any course within its price range. Tee times (480)982-9449.

McCormick Ranch Golf Club: If you feel like you have been playing in the Cactus League for too long and would like to test your mettle in the Grapefruit League for a bit, check out McCormick Ranch's Palm Course. With its numerous palm trees and water that comes into play on 10 of the 18 holes, the Palm Course feels more like a Florida course than an Arizona track. What's more, the traditional park style layout of the Palm Course puts the finishing touches on a "throwback" afternoon on the links.

The Pine Course is a bit more challenging with its narrow fairways, and reminiscent of a northern Arizona golfing experience with its plethora of mature pines. Tee times - (602)948-0260


Antelope Hills Golf Courses: The North Course at Antelope Hills, which opened in 1956, is one of the grandaddy's of golf in all of northern Arizona. Like many courses of the time, the North Course is traditional in its layout and characteristics. Fairways are tree lined and greens are small, fast and true.

The South Course, which open back in 1992, is a links style golf course designed by Gary Panks that features wide open playing conditions and classic links style mounding around the fairways and greens. It comes as little surprise that with their variety of holes, cooler climes, and almost unbelievably low greens fees, the Antelope Hills Golf Courses are becoming increasing popular places to play golf. Tee times - (520)776-7888.


Tucson Omni National: Tucson's most venerable resort course, Omni National is home to the Tucson Open as well as 27 holes of championship caliber golf. The Gold and Orange nines are the traditional pairing, as they play through the relatively flat and lush territory below the resort.

The Green Nine, the newest of the nines, plays more like a desert style course with its narrow fairways and elevation changes. Still, the Green nine hangs on to the lush, tee to green grass that is the trademark of Omni National. Tee times (520)575-7540.

The Lodge at Ventana Canyon: Need we say more. Sporting 36 of Arizona's most well known holes, Ventana is a perennial member of Golf Magazine's and Golf Digest's top 100 lists. The Mountain Course is rugged and challenging, with numerous elevation changes and pure target style golf shots.

The Canyon Course is a favorite among locals with its larger fairways and flatter terrain. However, the Canyon Course begins to look more like the Mountain Course as its back nine turns its sights to the breathtaking Catalina Mountains.

The Hilton Tucson El Conquistador: With a gaudy 45 holes, the El Conquistador Resort and Country is the largest golf facility in Southern Arizona. This week, GolfArizona.com goes inside the Resort, Sunrise and Sunset Courses to bring you a look at one of Arizona's premier multi-course destinations.

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 TravelGolf.com from 1997 to 2003.

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