Hill/Ridge at La Paloma Country Club
|Silver (W)||72||5984 yards||73.5||139|
|Copper (W)||72||5714 yards||72.1||137|
|Ruby (W)||72||5207 yards||71.4||129|
|Jade (W)||72||4878 yards||68.4||124|
|Family (W)||72||3906 yards||63.4||113|
|Black M: 71.9/144||340||381||561||185||467||419||538||157||415||3463||381||411||517||199||420||459||171||436||560||3554||7017|
|Gold M: 69.6/138||320||321||484||171||421||385||516||132||391||3141||364||374||482||176||381||449||153||395||549||3323||6464|
|Silver M: 67.2/129 W: 73.1/142||282||306||476||162||409||340||491||124||374||2964||314||334||470||158||349||431||132||369||463||3020||5984|
|Cooper M: 65.8/126 W: 71.9/137||282||306||444||154||348||340||421||108||341||2744||314||334||460||158||349||391||132||369||463||2970||5714|
|Ruby W: 69.8/130||282||306||383||94||348||340||421||108||302||2584||314||334||372||112||349||262||132||285||463||2623||5207|
|Jade W: 67.7/124||225||271||383||94||348||302||421||84||302||2430||264||309||372||112||306||262||105||285||433||2448||4878|
|Family M: 60.2/113 W: 63.4/113||202||261||278||77||248||243||301||80||215||1905||264||227||279||112||243||262||72||230||312||2001||3906|
Nicklaus Design circa Early 80s
Have you had the experience of eating something crazily spicy combined with a bit of tequila and then had a brutal night of fitful sleep and nightmares? If so, then you can certainly see what happened to Jack Nicklaus when he came to the Sonoran Desert to build golf courses. Desert Highland is a fantastic example of epicurean and alcohol-driven indulgence leading to hallucinagenic sleep-deprived nights, producing Heironymus Bosch-inflected golf courses. La Paloma sits high atop that list, as well.
It's the early mid-80s: Jack is opened DH, La Paloma, Michigan's Grand Traverse (The Bear - A course where skeletal remains of "players" come in to play just off of the fairways), and Loxahatchee Club in Jupiter, Florida. The level of difficulty at each facility is completely off of the charts. But La Paloma was Jack's one on-ups-manship of himself: It was a 27 hole facility. He was still a few years away from the multi-course Desert Mountains and PGA Wests. Tucson's La Paloma was Jack's version of KRS-PRIDE. . No matter WHAT the rotation, you were playing a course that seemingly only Jack could score on. Back in those days, regardless of the routing (Ridge to Canyon, Hill to Ridge or Canyon to Hill), the Black Tee slope rating was 155. On each 18 hole routing!! That was and IS the theoretical top-end of slope! A re-rating of the courses a few years back brought the slopes back down into the mid-140s - still exceedingly difficult even for the best of players.
Through the years, the course has been softened (a bit) and is no longer the horror-show it once was. But the routings through the desert canyons and bluffs remain ever daunting. The green complexes, too, are as challenging as ever (a move to desert-friendly Mini-Verde Bermuda like Ventana Canyon and Greyhawk went to) with terrific conditioning and shaping. They presage the 27 hole complex at Dove Mountain by a couple of decades-plus but certainly share immediately recognizable attributes. Good elevation change throughout the courses along with typically brilliant design work on each nine makes La Paloma a MUST PLAY if you are in Tucson.
Remember this: If you DO want to play La Paloma, you must stay at The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa. It's a true world-class facility with superior lodging, terrific restuarants and MYND Spa & Salon. It does terrific duty as a buddy trip golf weekend or a relaxed spa and pool locale. In any event, enjoy the private club atmosphere while you are there.
27 Breathtaking Holes
Unfortunately I chose to play on a rainy/chilly day in December, but the good news is I was the only one on the course and was able to get through all 27 fairly quickly. Despite being some of the worst weather conditions I’ve ever played in, this is one of my favorite courses I’ve played. As I continue to play more Nicklaus courses, I’ve come to realize I think he is my favorite designer. This course is a challenge so I would not suggest it for beginners. Conditions could not have been better. If you happen to be staying at the Westin La Paloma (that is the only way non-members can play here), this course is a must. Ridge, Canyon & Hill are all equally spectacular with amazing views of the Tucson mountain ranges.
Desert target golf on steroids...
Rode the Golds (6464/69.6/138) on the Hill/Ridge combo mid day using Troon Rewards in slightly over 4.5H. Paired with Erin and Graham, hilarious guys to play with! The weather was overcast and around 100, we were sprinkled on numerous times during the round.
Nicklaus Signature Course. Desert target golf on steroids. Nearly every hole had a long carry over no mans land. There was NO bailout area on any hole, you missed the fairway more than a few yards left or right and you were in desertscape that was usually unplayable even if you could find your ball. Huge mounds around the greens. It was not unusual to barely miss a green and end up with a 25 yard chip where you could not see the top of the flag.
The Bermuda tees were nicely maintained with few divots. No challenges finding a level stance.
The Bermuda fairways were well maintained and nice to play from.
The Bermuda rough was not deep and usually nice to play from. On this course, with all the trouble barely outside the rough line, low rough is a detriment. Longer rough would catch balls that bounced into the cacti.
The sand traps were very well maintained. Generous amount of thick, good quality sand. Almost too deep/thick, which produced a couple of fried egg lies.
The 138 slope from the next to back set of tees is partially due to the tightness of the course, but also because of the green complexes. Huge undulations and tiers to navigate on the greens. The large, raised Bermuda greens putted very nicely. Firm, smooth, medium speed, with few ball marks.
The customer service was exceptional. Nice, all grass driving range which includes range balls. Only negative is that the basic carts do not have GPS, which is a big black mark on a high end, Troon run facility IMO. Cart gal out making the rounds, friendly starter was trying to keep things on track on a busy Saturday. Many tees are a long ways from the last green. This is a very penal course, recommended with that knowledge going in.
A Great Nicklaus Layout
La Paloma has been my favorite vacation course in Tucson for years now. After a tough stretch several years ago, this great track is back to near perfection. It has 27 holes, carved though some interesting landscape, with no 2 holes truly resembling each other. You have to cross large canyons, move through well bunkered areas and take on several elevation changes during a round. The conditions are back to the top level with all greens being rebuilt a few years ago and bunkers getting some love. The Canyon/Ridge combination is the best 18 hole sequence. Hill is the weakest 9, but is by no means a slouch. The multiple sets of tees allow you to pick your level of challenge. Silver and Copper give high handicappers a fair test. Gold will suit handicaps of 7 to 12. Black is for those with caps of 6 or less. The elevation in Tucson gives you a bump of 5% with most yardages. If you are staying at the Westin La Paloma, or have a Troon membership, this course is a 'must play' in the area. No matter what, you have to find a way to play this outstanding course.