Course Preview: Torres Blancas Golf Course
Green Valley, Az - Opened in 1994, Torres Blancas Golf Course quickly became known as one of Green Valley's top courses. This Lee Trevino design is carved out of the lush, green natural desert with holes that accentuate the southwestern beauty. And don't confuse this with target golf. Ample fairways and large greens allow for far less than precise shots. Here's a look.
Last Thursday my friend Wes and I made the twenty-five minute drive down from Tucson to Green Valley looking for a challenging midweek round. We were greeted in the pro shop by Kevin Lewis, the head professional, who told us that the course was totally open, which was music to our ears.
We chose a cart and warmed up on the practice green next to the #1 tee. On the course the greens are very large, so it's important to work on distance control before your round. Fortunately, running 8.5 on the stimpmeter, the putting green is very representative of the course's actual green speed.
If you're looking to hit balls before your round, there's a nearby grass driving range with target pins positioned at 100, 150, and 200 yards.
Torres Blancas has four sets of tees: gold for the championship player, green for men, and silver and copper for women and juniors, respectively. The distance differential as well as the tee positioning helps make the course a fun and appropriate test of golf for everyone.
Torres Blancas opens with a straightaway, 360-yard par 4. With grass bunkers lining the right rough, finding a gnarly lie is very likely. A short iron remains to a wide green with a front pot bunker. Beware, the ball does release when it hits the green, so don't fly it all the way to the hole.
The course's outward nine eases you into the round with six birdie holes followed by two low handicap holes. #7 is a straightaway, 450-yard par 4. A left side fairway bunker positioned 225 yards out is designed to catch drives, leaving a difficult long iron shot to the green. Miss the bunker and you'll have a much easier shot to the green, which is guarded by a bunker on the left.
#8 measures 519 yards and is straight uphill to a green with a small bunker on the left. An ideal drive is high and long so the slope doesn't affect the drive as much. Only the longest hitters will reach this green in two, but with three precise shots birdie is a good possibility. Torres Blancas' back nine is almost 400 yards longer at 3631 yards. Sure enough, its opening hole is longer than any on the front, a 524-yard par 5. Bending slightly left, the best tee ball will be up the fairway's right. Don't go too far right, though, or you'll hit a two-story house.
The fairway breaks off at 100 yards and picks up again at 80 yards, so play to a safe distance for an easy third shot. Its green is protected by shallow bunkers that can be putted out of.
Torres Blancas' signature hole is the 181-yard, par 3 #12. A lake lies in front of the green while a stunning waterfall crackles behind. Wes stuck his shot 10 feet from the pin while I played conservatively to the back, leaving myself a 30-footer for birdie. The key here is to focus on the green and admire the beauty after the shot.
Now comes the stretch of holes where you find out how good a player you really are. #13 is a dogleg left par 4 with the waterfall behind the tee. Bunkers are situated on both sides of the fairway as well around the multi-tiered green. Then #14, the second longest hole in Southern Arizona, is a 636-yard, par 5 dogleg right. If you make birdie here you'll have hit three stellar shots.
#15 is the longest par 3 on the course at 215 yards, followed by the only average hole in the group, the 384-yard, par 4 #16. It's succeeded by the longest par 4 at 484 yards. That's right, this hole is longer than some par 5's! A right side fairway bunker forces drives up the left. Then you're forced to play over a lake and up to a green guarded by a bunker on the right.
The round culminates with an uphill, 457-yard par 4. A wash to the right and houses left can come into play if you hit the driver too hard. A long iron or fairway wood remains over a lake to an uphill sloping green with bunkers up the right side. Hit it short right and your ball will roll back down the slope. Go long left and you're faced with a near impossible par. It's a championship finish to a championship course.
After the round relax at the Madera Room clubhouse next to the Pro Shop. This restaurant offers a wide selection of lunches and dinners at a reasonable price. Make sure to pick a seat where you can look out over #18 and watch others try their hand at playing a true finishing hole.
A round at Torres Blancas is $24 with cart. Take I-19 south to Exit 63, go east to Abrego Drive, and turn south to 3233 South Abrego Drive. For more information call (520) 625-0724.
May 12, 2000