Green Valley brings four choice courses within spiting distance of each other

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

After a couple days of chasing the little white ball at Tubac and Rio Rico, point the convertible rental car with the Dade County plate north towards Green Valley. For breakfast, eat early, eat big and get ready for 36 holes of pristine high desert golf. All Green Valley brings to the table is four choice courses within spiting distance of each other. Start with a San Ignacio/Canoa Hills combo that will reunite you with the concept of taking irons off the tee. If you're playing from the whites, Ignacio and Canoa set up as short, yet challenging layouts. Even if you're a 10-15 handicap, you may want to play from the tips if you plan to use your driver.

Tubac Golf Resort
Tubac Golf Resort
If you go

San Ignacio is an Arthur Hills designed track that puts a premium on accuracy. Tee boxes provide stunning views of the majestic Santa Rita Mountains to the southeast. Measuring 6,704 from the racks and 5,200 from the front, San Ignacio can virtually play as two different courses. The front nine is stocked with ridges and bunkers and the back nine requires solid course management as showcased by the signature 13th hole, the 522-yard double dogleg par five.

Canoa Hills stretches out north of San Ignacio and along with its sister course forms one of southern Arizona's great golf course tandems. Canoa is a lush reprieve from the starkness of the typical desert landscape, featuring hundreds of mature mesquite trees. Narrow fairways wind their way through desert arroyos, and tee boxes offer incredible views of the valley. Playing from 5,158 to 6,610 yards, Canoa can play as many courses.

Play Canoa in the morning and San Ignacio in the afternoon. Why? Food. Not that Canoa doesn't offer up some good eats, but Ignacio looks our for your appetite like few other courses. Sign up for the golf and steak special at the pro shop before you head out. Since that sizzling piece of red meat is four hours away, detour over to the practice range before you tee off where you'll find one of Ignacio's charming watron's grilling up hotdogs and sausages, and serving cold beer.

If you want to get back to your "muni" roots, The Haven Golf Course is Green Valley's oldest course and the area's only municipal track. Wide fairways and flat terrain offer up a forgiving course that can rekindle one's confidence and battling the narrow fairways of Canoa. If you need to settle some bets amongst your hacker friends, do so at the Tortuga Golf Course - a par three short-course situated just on the other side of the Haven pro shop.

Unlike an extra inning baseball game, the clock is ticking on your golf binge to southern Arizona. Before time expires, make sure you fit in a round at Green Valley's latest contribution to fine golf - Torres Blancas Golf Club. Sure to be a classic in the years to come, Green Valley's newest course offers a wide-open challenge of golf. Rolling fairways and young greens will test your skills with irons and putter, while 6,833-yard layout will not disappoint the long driver. Just make sure you obey all course and golf cart rules. The Rangers provide more player resistance that assistance. Some of these bitter men are ready to throw down and go fist-a-cuffs with the unsuspecting golfer who drives his cart onto the fairway at an 80 degree angle.

For great package deals on lodging and golf, try the Best Western Green Valley (800-344-1441) which offers golf packages with Haven, Conoa Hills, San Ignacio, Torres Blancas, Tubac and Rio Rico that include (seasonally) a round of golf, breakfast, and cocktails. Rates range from $59 per person in the dead of summer to $120 in the heart of winter. Call for fall and spring rates.

Be a Gifter

So your plane leaves in two hours from Tucson International Airport, and all you have to show for your trip is five golf gloves with holes in them, two pairs of Foot Joys missing half their soft spikes, and a dapper looking Tubac Golf Resort polo shirt. What's wrong with this picture? That's right, imagine the chilly reception you'll get at your home airport when you return without a guilt gift. Fortunately, Tubac is home to one of the most unique artist communities in the state. Located just south of the resort, over 80 shops boast themes ranging from tiles and ceramics to books and chili peppers. Nogales, Sonora - just 20 miles south of Tubac - is a haven for bargain shoppers looking to negotiate for the lowest prices south of the border.

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 from 1997 to 2003.

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