Tucson City Golf: Legendary History...A whole new experience

If you haven’t played these munis in a while, it’s time for a fresh look

The Catalina Mountains are visible behind the scenic 16th hole at Dell Urich Golf Course.

Tucson’s history with the game of golf runs deep. During that time, the Old Pueblo’s stable of golf courses have seen some changes. Most recently, thanks to forward thinking from city officials and OB Sports Golf Management, Tucson’s municipal golf has never been more rewarding or cost effective.

Ample support for this statement comes from those who matter most – golfers. Indeed, their reviews posted on GolfAdvisor.com have been trending in the right direction. The 36-hole Randolph Golf Complex – home to Randolph North and Dell Urich– received a number of gracious accolades from golfers including: “Course in Good Shape,” “Improved Conditions,” “Worth the Price,” and “OB Sports continues to do a good job.” When asked if they’d recommend Randolph to their pals, 98 percent tipped their hats.

Randolph North opened in 1925, and was the site of the PGA Seiko Tucson Match Play Championship, the PGA Joe Garagiola Tucson Open and the PING/Welch’s LPGA Championship. It stretches out to be the longest of the Tucson City golf courses at 6,900 yards from the championship tees and just short of 6,000 from the front tees. Although it’s a parkland style layout where wayward shots are easily found, palms, pines and other mature trees frame the challenges, as well as add a bit of character and charm. 

Dell Urich has a lot to offer in addition to improved conditions. It was completely redesigned in 1996, opening sight lines to reveal mountain views and elevation changes. The layout was good enough to host an LPGA Tour stop for several years, and best of all, if you’re up for 36 holes, Randolph North Golf Course is next door.

“Like the rest of the Tucson City Courses, we’ve spent a lot of time and effort into revamping the entire golf experience,” said Robb Palmgren, Randolph Golf Complex General Manager. “Our course conditions are the best they’ve been in years and the guest service experience we have been able create, especially with our full service restaurant, have been well received.”

Holding true to the tradition of hosting competitive golf, El Rio Golf Course’s pedigree as a championship track dates back the 1930s as the original site of the PGA Tour’s Tucson Open. It’s a traditional design that was private until the City of Tucson acquired it for public play in 1968. And as with the other Tucson munis, the buzz from the golf world is good. “Great Shape,” “Good Value,” and “Check it out, if you haven’t played El Rio in a while”, are just a few of the headlines. Indeed, it has received a 100 percent recommendation rate on GolfAdvisor.com in the last six months.

“There is so much history when it comes to Tucson and the game of golf,” said Mark Woodward, Senior Vice President of Operations at OB Sports. “With that being said, Tucson City Golf isn’t what it used to be. Players will still get the history, but also a whole new experience when they head out to TCG courses now.”

Silverbell Golf Course is another great example of a venerable track that still offers a classic test. Situated high on the west bank of the Santa Cruz River, the par-70 golf course features a variety of holes ranging from wide-open, come-and-get-it challenges to others that favor precision over length. Although golfers face the second-hardest hole early in the round at No. 2, holes 17 and 18 tend to be the high-water mark where it’s either sink or swim. No. 17 requires an approach shot squeezed between water and a bunker. And the 18th is a traditional three-shot par 5 at 551 yards. Like its cousins, large trees and a few water hazards provide this 6,824-yard layout with its aesthetic as well as strategic appeal.

As the true desert course among its peers, Fred Enke offers a rugged Sonoran Desert-style round of golf that blends into the surrounding native landscape frequented by road runners, coyotes and even the occasional Bobcat. And it too has recently shown some improvement in the eyes of the average golfer. According to reviews on GolfAdvisor.com, Fred Enke’s recommendation percentage has climbed from an all-time rating of 86 percent, to 92 percent over the past year and 96 percent in the last six months.

Collectively these City of Tucson golf courses have provided nearly 100 years of enjoyment to golfers of all levels. The city’s commitment to these five courses honors the proud traditions established by generations of Tucsonans. In just a short time with OB Sports at the wheel, course conditions have improved, and a handful of frequent-player programs have been put in place to encourage a lifestyle rooted in the game of golf for all. To book tee times, visit www.TucsonCityGolf.com