Arizona National Golf Club Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.4

Golf - Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 71
Tucson, AZ

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Arizona National Golf Club Review

rizona National was designed by one of the most celebrated golf course architects of hie time, Robert Trent Jones Jr. , better known as the “Frank Lloyd Wright of golf course architecture - and what a fantastic course he created in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains.  He sculptured 18 fun and challenging holes out of the mountain and designed Arizona National to blend in with and be in harmony with the natural setting.  

Arizona National meanders its way through the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains with:

  • forests of giant and stately saguaros of all shapes and sizes, some of which are embedded with several golf balls
  • rugged rock outcroppings
  • several varieties of cactus and trees
  • natural springs that provide water hazards not typical of desert golf courses
  • several huge and beautiful homes dotting the hillside
  • plenty of wildlife including rabbits, bobcats, javelina, birds, snakes, and more

You'll experience huge elevation changes, sloping and contoured fairways that cross mesquite-lined arroyos and natural areas, and panoramic vistas of several mountain ranges and the Tucson area.   Bottom line, Arizona National offers spectactular scenery but it also has some fun, unique, and challenging holes that will test your skills - all of which is one of the reasons that  Golf Digest named it as one of the "Top 100 Courses You Can Play" and it was ranked in the "Top 20 Best Arizona Courses" by Golfweek and the "4th Best in Arizona" by Zagat!

Arizona National is one of those courses that on almost every hole you'll utter a "WOW" for either the scenic view or the challenge or layout of what you see and encounter on the way to the pin. Each and every hole is different and unique and a blast to play.  Some examples of holes that got our "WOWs" included:

  • #2 is a 575 yard par 5 (number 2 handicap) with a tee shot to a fairway that runs oblong to the approach to the green and from there you'll have to cross a natural area with water on a fairway lined with 5 bunkers and the approach also chokes down as you cross a natural area to a well guarded uphill green with 4 bunkers
  • #11 is 625 yards with a carry off the tee box and blind shot (typically into the wind) to an uphill fairway with six bunkers along the right side then downhill on a narrow left to right sloping and contoured fairway and finally an approach shot across a natural area to an oblong green surrounded by 5 bunkers
  • #18 is one of the most spectacular holes we have ever played - a dramatic elevated tee box with a shot to a beautiful fairway with 6 huge bunkers and a sparkling blue lake on the left side of the sloping fairway - what a way to end an outstanding round of golf and the view from the top of the tee box is unmatched

The fairways at Arizona National were near perfect, ample size but with lots of contour (some will feel like a roller coaster ride), mounding, swales, and slope - all of which you need to carefully manage.  The rough was also in great shape and a little thick but very playable.  Make sure you check the wind and study the hole layout before you tee off - you'll need to manage each hole (wind, slope, hazards, elevation changes) and club selection can be critical if you want to score well.  You'll also need to deploy some of your best shot making skills.  With 4 sets of tee boxes plus a combo tee box, yardages ranging from 4414 to 6785 yards and a slope of 112 to 143, make sure you don't bite off more than you can chew.  Arizona National is very friendly for the ladies with manageable yardages and not as many forced carries.

The Arizona National greens were also in very good condition when we played.  The greens are about average size for the Tucson area, ran true and fast (around a 10 to 11), and have both slope and undulation which can cause some subtle breaks that are hard to read.  Remember, everything tends to slope toward the valley.  A number of the greens are elevated and turtle back, which can be challenging.  And most of the greens are well guarded. 

The bunkers range from small pot bunkers to some huge and treacherous monsters.  The sand is firm and the faces are pretty steep!

Arizona National is a must play if you're in the area - fun, challenging, very scenic, and some of the best holes and conditions in Tucson.

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Blue 6,340 70.1 139
White 5,588 67.4 131
Gold 6,785 72.5 143
Red 4,414 66.5 112

Course Information

Course Architect:
Robert Trent Jones
Greens Type:
TIF Eagle
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Hard - very hilly
Course Map
Beware of water on 4 holes and the 84 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
9.4 out of 10
Fun to Play:
Front Nine Rating:
Back Nine Rating:


Approximate Weekend
$29.00 to $89.00

Service is excellent, the pro shop is well stocked, and the food is good - the deck is outstanding with a view of the mountains and the 18 hole and pond. Practice facilities are good.



Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.