Nogales Golf Scene Offers a Nice Change of Pace

By Scott Behmer, Contributor

NOGALES, Ariz. - Nogales' rugged natural terrain and distinct desert beauty inspired the legendary Robert Trent Jones Sr. to create the first course in this border town at Rio Rico Golf Resort. Upon completion, Jones Sr. raved that "I really thought I had a masterpiece on my hands."

Rio Rico Golf Resort
Rio Rico Golf Resort is one of the best golf courses in Nogales, Ariz.
Rio Rico Golf Resort
If you go

Rio Rico became synonymous with great desert golf and spurred on the design of another desert beauty, Kino Springs Golf Club. Recently, Nogales' third course, Palo Duro-Creek Golf Club has opened, offering a layout that looks as if the two distinct nines at Rio Rico had been seamlessly blended together. Now it's time to take notice of these three stellar layouts that lie ever so close to the Mexico border.

Rio Rico Golf Resort was Robert Trent Jones Sr. only creation in Southern Arizona, yet his love of weaving a course into the natural environment is carried on today by his son, Robert Trent Jones Jr., with the renowned Raven Golf Clubs. Rio Rico measures 7119 yards, making it an ideal layout for hosting this sectional's Tour Qualifying School, the U.S. Open qualifiers, and two of Arizona's premiere tournaments: the Southern Arizona Open and the Southern Arizona Junior Amateur.

Its bent-grass greens may be the fastest in the state, putting a premium on the flat-stick. Don't be discouraged after a poor front-nine, it's one of the state's toughest. However, the straightforward, flat back-nine can easily be taken advantage of to help lower your score. Rio Rico has an ample driving range, a very small chipping and putting green, and your average-size pro shop and clubhouse.

If you're looking for a less demanding course, yet still seeking a challenge, then check out Kino Springs Golf Club. Measuring 6500 yards, it leaves you with a scoring club rather than a mid-iron to the greens. Further, miss a fairway and you still have a shot.

While the greens may not be Rio Rico's, they are receptive, and if you get the ball on line, you'll be holing a lot of putts. Almost on the border itself, hit a big slice and your ball could be in Mexico. Kino Springs offers a large practice facility and a medium-size clubhouse and pro shop.

Also near the border is the self-proclaimed "Southern Arizona's most exciting new course, Palo Duro-Creek Golf Club." Beautiful views of the Tumacacorri Mountains from atop the numerous vistas highlight a round here. Tight fairways, deep rough, out-of-bounds, and trees bordering the rough make this a demanding course off the tee. The greens are very receptive, rewarding well-struck approach shots.

It won't be long until golfers begin to realize how much fun this new course is and they'll be telling all their friends. The large practice facility offers an excellent place to work on one's game. Further, the pro shop is filled with a wide variety of golf merchandise and the clubhouse offers good food at reasonable prices.

For a change of pace, this summer drive on down to Nogales to play one of its three championship courses. They're designed for all skill levels, ensuring you'll have a good time. Further, they offer places to work on your game and to relax after your round. And the thermometer rarely hits triple digits!

Scott Behmer, Contributor

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