La Paloma Country Club - Ridge Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.3

Golf - Resort Private Course · 9 Holes · Par 72
Tucson, AZ
· Stay & Play

Img_9801 Img_9805 Img_9808

La Paloma Country Club - Ridge Course Review

The Westin La Paloma in Tucson is home to 27 outstanding golf holes that were designed by Jack Nicklaus in 1984.  This magnificent private golf club is available for guests of the Weston La Paloma Resort and each of the three nines is a Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and one of his original creations.  Each course has it's own unique characteristics and personality and it was impossible for us to pick a favorite - you'll definitely want to play all three:  

  • Hill Course - the "Golden Bear" redesigned the bunkers and greens on the Hill Course and it's the new greens and bunkers plus the rolling and heavily contoured fairways which distinguish this fun track from the other two nines.  Read our review of the La Paloma Hill Course.
  • Ridge Course - this nine has scenic vistas, elevation changes, flatter fairways, and greens with subtle breaks - the Ridge is the most popular with the ladies because it has the fewest carries from the forward tee boxes.
  • Canyon Course - this nine has the reputation of being the hardest of the three courses thanks to some dramatic elevation changes, narrow fairways, some really fun holes, and very challenging approaches - if we had to pick a favorite, this would be it.  Click here to read our review of the Canyon Course

La Paloma Country Club has a reputation of being of the best as well as toughest courses in Tucson thanks to dramatic elevation changes, forced carries off the tee as well as on the approach shots, plenty of bunkering, and contoured fairways lined with berms, swales, and mounds. 

Common to all three courses at La Paloma Country Club are very good conditions, scenic vistas of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains and the Tucson valley, excellent service, upscale amenities, and fairways lined by a distinctive desert-scape of flowering cacti, yucca, agave, mature mesquite and Palo Verde trees, and other native vegetation - all of which are meticulously maintained by Troon Management.  In April a lot of the desert fauna bloom with a variety of vibrant colors.  During your round keep an eye out for quail, dove, toads, lizards, bobcats, javalinas, coyotes, and owls all of whom want to share the course with you at dawn and dusk. 

All of that has contributed to La Paloma Country Club winning a number of awards and high accolades, some of which include:

  • rated one of the "Top Ten Courses in Arizona" and included in the "Top 75 Resort Courses in the United States" by Golf Digest 
  • named in the "Top 100 Women-friendly Golf Courses" by Golf for Women
  • ranked in the "50 Best Golf Resorts in the World" by Conde Nast Traveler
  • 2011 Golf Week's "Best Courses Distinction Award"
  • awarded "Top Golf Course" by Zagat

The Ridge Nine at La Paloma Country Club is one of those courses that will get several "Wows" thanks to it's scenic beauty.  Each hole offers beautiful views of the tall and majestic Santa Catalina mountains and at times it seems like your approach shot or drive is going to land on one of the rugged mountain peaks.  It just doesn't get much better than the mountains plus deep ravines, a variety of trees, views of Tucson and the valley, and the the contrast of the lush green fairways with the desert sand and natural areas loaded with a variety of cactus and colorful fauna.

In addition to all the "Wows" you're likely to emit a few curses when you can't make the forced carries, avoid the treacherous bunkers or deep grassy mounds and hollows, read the breaks, and manage the dramatic elevation changes, or as you watch your ball fly into the natural areas, get embedded in one of the many arms of some Saguao cactus, or sail into some of the deep ravines. 

This is not your typical resort course and Nickalus made it demanding yet very fair and a round on the Ridge will test all parts of your game.   But don't let that discourage you from playing this fantastic track, pick the right set of tee boxes (there are five of them with yardages ranging from 2448 to 3554 yards), use some old balls over the forced carries, relax, have fun, and enjoy the scenic vistas - who cares about scoring well, you're on vacation.  Women prefer the Ridge over the Hill and Canyon nines because there are fewer and shorter forced carries. 

The fairways are ample to wide and forgiving and most have a wide playable rough - miss that and you can kiss your ball goodbye as is will most likely be in a deep canyon, embedded in some nasty prickly cactus, or lost in the natural area.  The fairways have plenty of contour, mounding, and bunkering including deep grassy hollows.  When we played the fairways were in excellent condition and the rough was very playable and still transitioning from winter to summer conditions.   Homes line some of the holes and it's hard to avoid all the wildlife which are also enjoying the course - lots of birds, cute little bunnies, roadrunners, ground squirrels, and more.  

The greens are all shapes and sizes and most are guarded by bunkers or grassy hollows.  The approaches to the greens are challenging - lots of elevation changes and most are guarded by some combination of ravines, natural areas, mounds, steep and deep grass or sand bunkers.  Compared to the other two nines, the greens on the Ridge course seemed a little flatter with minor undulation and slope. 
When we played they were a little spotty and patchy and needed some work, but were still very playable.  Troon has plans to redo the greens and bunkers as they have done on the Hill nine. 

The bunkers need to be avoided - steep and deep and the sand is hard and gritty.  The good news is that if the ball hits the lip, it typically rolls back to the middle of the bunker giving you a much better lie.  That's not the case with the grass bunkers. 

Bottom line:  a fantastic nine holes with scenic vistas, lots of elevation changes, good conditions, and some very fun, unique, memorable, and challenging holes.

We  stayed at the magnificent Westin La Paloma Resort and played all three courses - loved the Resort and all of it's amenities and we can't wait to get back again.  Here is a link to our review of the Westin La Paloma Resort.  They have a variety of different stay and play packages that are a pretty good deal. 

Img_9809 Img_9811 Img_9817

Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 3,554 72.9 151
Blue 3,020 68.2 132
White 2,970 66.9 129
Gold 3,323 71.4 142
Red 2,448 70.7 128

Course Information

Course Architect:
Jack Nicklaus
Greens Type:
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Not allowed
Beware of water on 0 holes and the 20 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

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

Service is good, the pro shop is stocked with everything that you need, the practice facilities are very good, and the club house is spectacular. The restaurant overlooks the course and the mountains and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.



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.