We eagerly anticipated our visit to the Westin La Paloma Resort in Tucson which allowed us to play the La Paloma Country Club.
Courses are split into three nine-hole layouts. While the Canyon and Ridge nines opened in 1984, the Hill nine was added two years later. From our room, we could see the gently undulating fairway and well-manicured ninth green of the Hill course. As is common with Nicklaus’ courses, the fairways are broad, and the bunkering is plentiful and deep. In fact, as a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, many holes are best played from left to right. Thus the advice from the starter is stay left of the 150-yard barber pole, and you’ll be fine getting into the green.
Without a doubt, the La Paloma Country Club at the Westin La Paloma Golf Resort is not a typical resort course. On balance, it will test you. Consequently, pick from six different tee grounds to find the perfect yardage. Mostly, holes wind through an upscale community in this metropolitan area of about one million people, home to the University of Arizona. Most holes have beautiful views of the Santa Catalina mountains. To be sure, on some higher elevation tee grounds, the views are magnificent. The service for Westin La Paloma resort guests seemed to be the same superb service given to members. Nevertheless, the clubhouse grill inside is reserved for members hence inaccessible to resort guests. Even so, guests sit outside on the patio.
The Ridge/Canyon course is #26 in Arizona by Golf Magazine’s 2016-17 ranking.
The Ridge Nine
Nicklaus creates undulating fairways and waste areas across the fairway and long waste areas abutting the fairways on several holes. In like fashion, menacing green-side bunkers are also a staple of Nicklaus design, and this is no exception. As a matter of fact, cacti are often in the way of tee shots judging by the holes in them.
The Canyon Nine
All things considered, the Canyon nine is definitively the most difficult of the three nines. Severe undulations effectively narrow some fairways. Similarly, approach shots often must challenge pin placements with green-side swales narrowing the effective green size. An elevated tee shot on the Par4 Hole #7 is our favorite. The lack of fairway bunkers here encourages you to shade the corner to have a shorter club into a steeply uphill approach shot.
The Hill Nine
We finished on the Hill nine, the easiest of the three nines. Fairways are flatter and bunkers are less frequent. That being said, bunkers in center of the fairway on the Hole #2 protect the short Par4. Due to large and moderately contoured greens, three putts are common if you lose your focus. The approach shot requires crossing a swale to a plateaued green sitting below the clubhouse surrounded by a deep undulating amphitheater.
The La Paloma Country Club at La Paloma Resort is everything we expected and more. Each nine brings a different ambiance and challenge. As expected playing these 27 holes was one of the most enjoyable days of our trip.