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Tubac Golf Resort & Spa Stay & Play Review

Tubac, Arizona - February 2011

Aerial view of one of the Tubac Golf CoursesEntrance to Tubac Golf Resort

, one of the best golf resorts in Arizona, is a unique golf resort with 27 holes of golf, outstanding golf stay and play lodging, good amenities, a couple restaurants serving very tasty entrees, friendly service, and a spa to massage away the sore golf muscles. Tubac Golf Resort & Spa is located about 90 minutes south of Tucson and is situated on the 500 acre historic Otero Ranch which was established in 1789 when the Otero family moved from Spain in search of a prized area for raising cattle. The Resort property is intersected by the Santa Cruz River, surrounded by stately cottonwood trees, and has the Santa Rita Mountains as a backdrop on the east and the Tumacacori Mountain range on the east. As soon as we entered the gate to Tubac Resort and started to experience the dramatic desert landscape, the majestic mountain ranges, the grazing cattle, the duck and geese enjoying the pond around the 9th green, the lush golf course, the cows grazing in the fields, the winding brick pathways, the rustic elegance of the architecture, the 200 year old Otero House, the cascading fountains, and the friendly staff, we knew we were in for a special treat and an enjoyable couple of days. And we weren't disappointed. All of that may be some of the reasons that Tubac Golf Resort & Spa has been recognized by Conde Nast Johansens as one of two finalists for the prestigious 2011 Awards for Excellence as "The Most Excellent Golf Resort."


Tubac Resort Golf Courses

Tubac Golf Resort was made famous thanks to a number of scenes from Kevin Costner's "Tin Cup" which were filmed at the Resort and on the Rancho Nine. It was fun reliving some of the scenes 9th hole of Anza with cows grazing in the backgroundduring our stay but not that much fun duplicating what Costner did when he drove several balls into the water on Rancho's 4th hole! But we didn't select Tubac Golf Resort just to try and clear the water and stuff it on the green with a 7 iron, we stayed here to enjoy what we had heard was the jewel of the Resort - twenty seven holes of golf. The courses have majestic views of the Tumacacori and Santa Rita Mountains as they play through the desert, along stately cottonwood and mesquite groves, and across the untamed Santa Cruz River. The first 18 holes were designed in the 60's and in 2006 another nine holes was added. Each of the nines is unique and different with it's own personality and characteristics, but common to all three nines are:

  • good conditions and friendly service
  • a well stocked pro shop with an Old World feel plus everything you need - make sure you stock up on some extra balls before your round, you'll need them
  • a driving range and putting green, where I should have spent more time before I teed off
  • a great bar and patio overlooking the tricky ninth hole with an island green - the patio crowd was very quiet as they watched two of my balls go swimming while the cheers erupted as my wife's tee shot stopped 5 feet from the pin - what a showoff!

Otero Nine

The Otero Nine was named after the original Spanish land grant family that came to Tubac in 1789. Otero was the front nine of the original 18 holes that was designed by Red Lawrence and opened in the 1960's. Like most older courses, Otero is short at 3241 yards from the tips and fairly traditional and straightforward with 4 doglegs, water on 3 holes, and 23 bunkers to keep you focused on your game.

This nine plays through cottonwoods and mesquite groves and has some fun and challenging holes like: #2 which is a 529 par 5 with a sharp dog leg right leading to a well guarded green; or the tough 185 yard par 3 that plays over water and between two mammoth cottonwood trees. Our review of the Otero Golf Course has pictures and some reasons why we liked this nine. Keep in mind that we played in February when the course and trees were dormant. All of the nines would be much more scenic and lush and green during the season. The desert would come alive with vibrant colors of red, white, yellow, and lavender in April!

Scenic views of the mountains on the Otero course at Tubac Golf ResortChallenging approach over water and between the tall treesOtero golf hole at Tubac Golf Resort

Anza Nine

Anza was named after the infamous Juan Bautista De Anza, who in 1775 led a contingent of 30 soldiers and their families to found a presidio and mission on California's San Franciso Bay. Anza has a desert look and feel on the first few holes followed by tree lined fairways. On the desert holes, if you miss the fairways you'll be among the sagebrush and cactus that are anxiously waiting for you to try and get your golf ball out of their sharp thorny needles - they are daring you to try and get it and they are very protective of what they think is theirs.

A tough dog leg right on the Anza Course9th hole on Anza Golf CourseMountains form the backdrop on some of the Anza Golf Course holes

This nine will test your game with a little bit of everything - forced carries off the tee box and on the approach shots, uphill and downhill shots, prevailing winds to manage, 26 treacherous bunkers, dog legs, well guarded green complexes, and water that will come into play. Anza is home to what we think are two of the best holes on the course - a 511 yard par 5 that dog legs right around a pond and 5 bunkers of all sizes on the way to a green with a couple bunkers and water around half of the green; or the Signature 9th hole which requires an accurate tee shot to an island green and a gallery on the patio watching every shot. Here is a link to our review of Tubac Resort's Anza Golf Course.

Rancho Nine

This nine was named after Rancho Manana, a course in Cave Creek that is owned by the family that also owns Tubac Resort. If we had to pick a favorite nine, Rancho would be the choice - it's fun, scenic, somewhat challenging, and has some great holes. Rancho is the toughest and longest of the nines with yardages ranging from 2648 to 3629 yards. Locals have named the last three holes the "Tubac Triangle" - a perilous three hole stretch that will test the best players. For example, the 651 yard par 5 8th hole, called the "Train Wreck" is a fun but challenging dog leg left with a tough approach to the green thanks to a bunker guarding the front and a big lake that stretches from the middle of the fairway to the green.

Challenging approach on a Rancho golf course holeRancho Nine with Tubac Resort in the backgroundOne of the scenic Rancho holes

Rancho will test you with dog legs, 20 bunkers, water, and a couple carries across the Santa Cruz River. You'll remember Rancho #4 if you saw "Tin Cup" - this hole was the setting for the scene in the movie where Kevin Costner was caddying for Don Johnson and Johnson wanted to lay up with a seven iron. Costner said he could do it and that is when Gary McCord, Peter Kostis, Craig Stadler and a young Phil Mickelson began to wager on whether or not he could pull it off. To learn more, read our review of the Rancho Golf Course at Tubac Resort.

The Tubac Golf Resort pro shop has all the gear you'll need to look good as well as turn in a good score. Make sure you hit the range and putting green before heading out - all of the courses require some shot making. I should have taken a lesson from one of the pros, or at least attended one of the weekly golf clinics or better yet their golf school. I could use the help!


Golf Stay & Play Accommodations at Tubac Golf Resort

Tubac Golf Resort is a small quaint resort with ninety eight distinctive guest accommodations that are spread out over four landscaped and gardened acres. All of the accommodations have easy access to the resort amenities - our Hacienda Suite was an easy nine iron shot to the pro shop. Tubac Resort's accommodations have been recognized nationally as one of "Arizona's 100 Best Kept Rooms" and there are a variety of options as part of a golf stay and play package. You can choose from Hacienda suites, Casitas, Posadas, or a large historic home. During our visit, we stayed in one of the 52 Hacienda Suites and were impressed with our Suite, which had:Tubac Resort Hacienda Suite


  • kiva gas fireplace - perfect on a cool evening (happened) or to enhance a romantic evening (never happened)
  • outdoor patio with two comfy chairs and a table and in our case, a good view of the mountains
  • flat screen TVs with cable
  • plush king bed that was heavenly - it was difficult getting out of bed for our tee time
  • large living area with couch and chairs
  • work desk and free Wi-Fi
  • in-room safe
  • very spacious all tile bathroom with a large jacuzzi, separate shower, and two sinks
  • coffee maker and mini-refrigerator
  • two bathrobes - just right for coffee at sunrise on the patio

Our Hacienda Suite was spotless, roomy at 650 square feet, and perfect for a fun weekend. Within a couple minutes walk we could be lounging in the pool or hot tub, teeing off, or enjoying lunch on the patio. We also liked the ample parking right in front of our Hacienda door - no big parking lot where your rentals can get lost, no need for valet parking, and no need to lug your bags and body up and down stairs to get to your room.

Hacianda patio at Tubac Golf ResortThe courtyard All of the lodging at Tubac Resort was great


For larger groups, the 200 year old Otero House is a good choice. It has a large living room, luxurious king bedroom, den with kitchenette, large fireplace, and a private patio overlooking the golf course and mountains. The 16 Casita Suites are 800 square feet with beautifully decorated living rooms, fireplaces, separated bedrooms, private patios, and a sleeper sofa. One of the Casitas has two bedrooms. Or you can stay in one of the Posadas which are 350 square feet and more traditional style rooms with a choice of a king or two queen beds, dressing room, and some have a separate seating area. The resort is pet and kid friendly and babysitting and childcare services are available.


Tubac Resort Spa

One of the treatment rooms at the Tubac Golf Resort SpaThe hacienda-style Spa at Tubac Resort is a relaxing sanctuary where you can get relief from the kinks from too much golf, rejuvenate after a stressful week at work, or just spend some time being pampered. The Spa offers a variety of treatments, some of which are indigenous to the region. When I walked in the door to check out the Spa and experienced the soothing music, sounds of cascading water, and the scents, I immediately seemed to relax and lose some of that work stress. You'll also feel a sense of history as you enter the Spa which exudes the spirit of Spain, Mexico, and the Southwest.

The Spa has separate men's and women's changing areas, a sauna and eucalyptus steam room, individual lockers, a Boutique with a variety of products, an outdoor whirlpool tub and comfortable furniture, and a complimentary plush robe and sandals for your use. Plus you can enjoy Spa water, tea, juices, and nuts or berries. Some of the spa services that you'll have to choose from include:

  • a wide variety of massages from a mommy-to-be massage to a golfers delight to a deep-muscle massage
  • several pampering body services to stimulate circulation, eliminate toxins, increase the flow of nutrients, and re-mineralize the body
  • facial services like the "Pick-Me-Up" or the regenerating or soothing facial
  • a variety of four hour special spa packages that can include some of the above service


Dining At Tubac Golf Resort

After a full day of golfing, you'll be craving some good food and you won't be disappointed. There are three choices for dining, all with patio seating, that offer a variety of savory options:

  • Stables Restaurant & Grill, located in a historic Spanish stable, serves three meals a day and cuisines that are a tasty mix of some German specials as well as American fare mixed with a variety of regional flair. When we ate at Stables it was a tough choice between fire grilled steaks; sauteed veal liver with apples, onions, bacon, and a veal demi glaze; free range chicken filled with ham, blue cheese, shallots, and red wine reduction; mesquite smoked braised beef short ribs; or pan seared sea bass in a Thai green curry sauce; or pasta, sandwiches, appetizers and Tapas, soups and salads. All four of us enjoyed our appetizers, salads and entrees - and the service was fast, friendly, and courteous.
  • Stables Grill is a unique pub with authentic western saddle seats around the bar, a fantastic patio overlooking the 9th hole's island green, and some good bar food - cold drinks and margaritas make this patio an excellent place to brag about your round and settle your bets and watch other plays miss the green and take a dive in the water just like I did
  • Dos Silos is a Mexican restaurant and cantina named in tribute to the two grain silos located adjacent to the open patio. Dos Silos serves traditional, fresh, and scrumptious dishes from south of the border - we found it hard to make a decision between some great Mexican entrees including everything from enchiladas with tomatillo sauce to hatch chili rellenos stuffed with cheese or chicken mole or garlic-crusted Chilean Sea Bass, marinated skirt steak, and lots more

Dos Silos patioDelicious lamb chopsPatio dining at Tubac Golf Resort

Weddings, Business Meetings, and Special Events

Chapel at Tubac Golf ResortTubac Resort has more than 7000 square feet of meeting space that can be divided into six meeting rooms plus plenty of outdoor space with breathtaking sunsets or outdoor patios with heaters, fans, and curtains. During our stay, a large patio overlooking the golf course was being set up for a western buffet with all the appropriate western motif and decorations.

The Geronimo Conference Center is a perfect place for a business function. The Conference Center is equipped with state of the art technology in an intimate classic lodge setting with a fireplace and open beam ceiling. Step out on the Geronimo Deck for a break and enjoy the view of the Santa Rita Mountains and the luscious grounds and the lake surrounding the pin on the 9th hole of the Anza golf course.

If you're planning a wedding, imagine getting married in a beautiful and memorable 1700's replica of a mission style Chapel or on a patio with the golf course and majestic mountains as a backdrop.


Tubac Resort Recreation & Amenities

In addition to eating, golfing, and getting a massage, there are lots of other fun things to see and do at the resort or in and around nearby Tubac. Bring a racquet and enjoy a set of tennis, go for a horseback ride, or spend some time at the pool and hot tub. After all that good food and tasty margaritas, I should have spent some time in the Tubac Resort fitness center, but nope, not me - I spent more time on the patio, enjoying the view, appetizers, and cold drinks. While my best friend and I enjoyed the drinks, the women were checking out the boutique shopping at the Reort's gift shop, Pancho's, and the spa plus spending lots of money on new golf gear at the pro shop. The new gear didn't help much - the guys still won bingo, bango, bongo and skins, but the girls looked much better and more stylish!

Tubac Gift ShopPool at Tubac Golf ResortOld Tubac Inn in Tubac - good food and drinks

The Tubac area is world renowned for birding, so bring your binoculars if you're a bird watcher. The resort rents bikes and we really enjoyed riding into Tubac (an easy 10 minute ride) and riding up and down the streets to check out the shops and restaurants as well as sip a couple margaritas. On our way to visit historic Tombstone we couldn't resist stopping at a unique spice shop called Santa Cruz Chili & Spice Company and we left with a bag full of spices and salsas. Along the route to Tombstone are several wineries, which we also had to stop and sample and buy some wine - we badly needed something to go with the chips and salsa.


Nearby Things To See and Do

A few blocks from the Resort is downtown Tubac, Arizona which is where art and history meet. This small (7 or so square blocks) quaint town is row after row of unique shops, art galleries, good restaurants, historic attractions, and places to sleep. The town is rich with history since Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino ventured into the Santa Cruz River Valley in 1691 in search of souls to save. Since then Tubac has endured cycles of destruction and desolation only to recover and grow again into the unique community that it is today. You can't leave the Resort without spending a few hours exploring the shops, art galleries, restaurants, and everything else this funky small town has to offer.

Tubac Golf Resort is conveniently located to lots of nearby fun things to see and do, here are just a few choices, all of which are within an hour or less:Kartchner Caverns

  • Sip Some Wine - about 45 minutes south of Tubac Golf Resort & Spa is the Sonoita & Elgin Area Wine Tour - hard to believe that southern Arizona's weather is conducive to growing wine, but the seven local wineries turn out some first rate wine and it's fun sampling some of Arizona's best wine
  • View the Moon & Stars - visit the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory
  • Slip Across the Border - Nogales, Mexico is close by and loaded with bargains and some good Mexican food - check to make sure it's safe before you head to Nogales
  • Go Caving - Kartchner Caverns is a good place to cool off on a hot summer day as well as enjoy some world-class cave features
  • Step Back in History - you can't leave without taking the kids to Old Tucson Studios to watch a gun fight, ride in a stagecoach, take a miniature train ride, and enjoy a stage show - a tad touristy but kids will enjoy a visit here
  • Visit the Desert Animals - the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is a must for all ages and is very well done and interesting
  • Spend Time in Historic Tombstone - in Tombstone you can wonder though the "Boothill" graveyard, tour the old Bird Cage Theater (referred to by the New York Times in 1882 as the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast), enjoy lunch and music in Big Nose Kate's Saloon, watch Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday in a daily reenactment of the famous Gunfight at O.K. Corral, ride a stagecoach through town, and more - Tombstone is truly a historical American landmark and an excellent example of our 1880 western heritage
  • Experience a Missile Launch - visit the nearby Titan Missile Museum's underground silo and see a massive Titan II missile up close and tour the control center and experience a simulated launch
  • Check Out the State Park - Tubac Presidio State Historic Park is Arizona's first State Park in the center of Arizona's oldest European Community and it's home to the largest and best preserved 18th century Spanish Presidio in the world plus a museum, underground display of Presidio ruins, Arizona's first printing press, a picnic area, and the Anza Trailhead.

Gun fight at Old Tucson StudiosCoyote at Arizona Sonora Desert MuseumDowntown Tombstone

If for some strange reason you get bored playing the courses at Tubac Golf Resort, then you have several other nearby choices for another round of golf. This Arizona Golf Map will help you find a nearby course to play or you can read our reviews of Tucson Golf Courses that we played when we stayed in Tucson.

What are you waiting for? Pick up the phone and give Tubac Golf Resort & Spa a call and book a room and a round on each of the golf courses.

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