Tucson's Places to Play at Turkey Time

By Scott Behmer, Contributor

TUCSON - With relatives coming to visit over the Thanksgiving holiday, there's no better place to spend time with them than at some of the Old Pueblo's finest golf courses. You can catch up on all the talking that you've missed out on since their last visit, and it can be done outdoors in Tucson's beautiful environment.

The Golf Club at Vistoso
The scenery around The Golf Club at Vistoso is spectacular.
The Golf Club at Vistoso
If you go

With the vast array of courses you can show them everything from top-notch desert courses surrounded by natural flora and fauna to traditional designs, with a blanket of green grass covering the course and mature trees lining the fairways. This Thanksgiving holiday give your relatives a golfing experience they'll never forget.

The Links at Continental Ranch is southern Arizona's only Scottish links-style course. It's adjacent to I-10 at Cortaro Farms, just northwest of Tucson. With a cart it's only $39 on weekdays or $47 on weekends to play one of the host courses for the Tucson Open qualifying rounds. Winds off I-10 dry the course, making it play nearly as hard as The Old Course. Pot bunkers and three-foot-high natural grasses line the fairways while large, undulating greens wreak havoc on long putts.

For a player on his game, low scores are possible. Otherwise, there's not much margin for error here. The prime time to play is near sunset. The Links has views of four sets of mountains, but the prettiest views come around 5:15 when the shadows accentuate the ridges of the Tortolita and Catalina Mountains. But if you finish earlier you can relax in the comfortable clubhouse and still take in the beautiful sights. (520) 744-7443

Another stellar course in the northwest is The Golf Club at Vistoso. This critically acclaimed Tom Weiskopf layout is only $49 with cart Monday through Thursday after 11:00 and after noon on Sunday. His design harkens back to the traditional style of squared tee boxes, generous fairways, and large, heavily bunkered greens. The holes lie in a vast desert which offers a look back to the Tucson of decades ago.

Like The Links, afternoon rounds will show off Tucson's spectacular mountain views and be an added bonus to the already excellent golf. Here you can also enjoy the perfect afternoon temps on the patio at the tasty Grille restaurant. (520) 797-9900

The Raven Golf Club at Sabino Springs is located on Tucson's east side. It's another of Tucson's best courses and is $85 with cart. The rate is higher, but the views and service can't be beat in southern Arizona. From the moment you pull your clubs out of your car the club assistants are working to make sure that this is the best golfing experience possible.

Whether it's dropping off a cold towel, offering advice on how to play the hole, or stopping by every three holes to see if you're ready for anything to drink or eat, they do it all. Further, the carts have GPS trackers providing exact yardages to the pin. Robert Trent Jones Jr. carefully crafted this course into the Catalina Mountains, with stunning scenes of both the mountains and Tucson's city-scape. The large clubhouse also has picturesque views of the Catalina mountains as well as the difficult par 5 finishing hole.

This is a first-rate course with top-of-the-line service and a golf shop named one of the top 100 in the country. It doesn't get any better than this. (520) 749-3636

Finally, right in the center of Tucson are Randolph North and Dell Urich golf courses. Together these two are the second most played public courses in the nation. For $28.50 you can choose between Randolph North, the home of the LPGA Welch's Championship, and Dell Urich, Tucson's "Augusta National." Randolph North is a flat, traditional-style course with large tree-lined fairways and small greens.

Dell Urich's undulation, lack of rough, and large greens are all similarities to Augusta National. Yet no matter which course you select, you're guaranteed a challenging round in a peaceful environment. And if you start early enough, you can play one, stop for lunch at the large, inviting clubhouse, then continue on the other and get 36 in for the day. (520) 325-2811

This Thanksgiving holiday, when you're looking for something to do with visiting friends or relatives, take them out for a round at one of these four excellent courses. There's guaranteed to be one near you and dollar-for-dollar they're some of the best places to play in southern Arizona.

Scott Behmer, Contributor

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