Starr Pass Country Club - Coyote Nine Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.0

Golf - Public Course · 9 Holes · Par 36
Tucson, AZ

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Starr Pass Country Club - Coyote Nine Review

The JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa is home to three unique and excellent nine hole courses.   Bob Cupp, and PGA Tour Professional, Craig Stadler, together designed and built a first class desert golf experience that offers stunning views of Tucson and the surrounding mountains and some fun golf holes that are fair but challenging for all skill levels.  During your round you'll find natural arroyos, contoured sweeping fairways, dramatic elevation changes, bunkers of shapes and sizes, challenging green complexes, uphill and downhill shots, and swirling winds created by the Tucson Mountains - all of which require you to focus on your club selection and  shot making if you want to score well.  

The original 18 holes opened for play in 1986 and was home to the Tucson Open between 1987 and 1996.  Arnold Palmer was hired to redesign the original 18 holes and add another 9, creating a fantastic Arnold Palmer Signature golf Facility with 27 of some of the best golf holes in Tucson.  Each of the three Starr Pass courses wind up and down the Tucson mountains and  are aptly named for the ever present desert wildlife - Rattler, Roadrunner, and Coyote.  Each of the nines is different and unique and has it's own personality:

  • Rattler Course -  the Rattler nine is the most challenging and is a true test of your game with the smallest pocketed greens and this nine requires a lot of target golf - we thought it was the most scenic and seemed to be in the best condition from the tee box to the pin
  • Roadrunner Course - chiseled out of the side of the Tucson Mountains, Roadrunner starts just outside the JW Marriott Resort and this nine offers dramatic elevation changes and some very fun and challenging holes - it is also the shortest of the nines at 3217 and carries a par of 35 with three great par 3s
  • Coyote Course - the terrain on Coyote is completely different and this nine seems more natural as it traverses up and down the Tucson Mountains and it has fewer homes dotting the hillside, some very interesting holes, and more wildlife than the other two nines

Common to all three nines is a true Sonoran Desert luxury golf experience, excellent conditions, first class service, and top notch facilities including the JW Marriott Resort and Spa and a 20,000 square foot clubhouse.  You may also find that some of the holes at Starr Pass may frustrate you, enamor you, drive you to the beverage cart, or leave you scratching your head regarding Arnold's true intent.  But one thing that is bound to happen is you'll walk off the 18th hole saying that was "awesome" and thinking when you can get back to play it again.

As we reflected back on our golf at Starr Pass we were awe inspired:

  • Each golf hole was  lush and plush from tee to pin
  • There were awesome panoramic vistas of Tucson, the valley, two mountain ranges, and some stunning homes dotting the hill side
  • The contrast between the desert, lush fairways, sand bunkers, and fairway rough was striking
  • The desert fauna was varied and colorful and wildlife was running wild across the course
  • Service and the facilities were top notch
  • And we played some fun, unique, memorable, and challenging holes

It just doesn’t get much better than all of that!

Starr Pass's Coyote has a completely different look and fee than the other two nines - the terrain seems less hostile and gentler (it is because I didn't get pricked to death by cactus looking for my golf ball?) and more natural with fewer homes as it plays up and down the foothills of the Tucson Mountains.  Coyote is also home to a some interesting history - the sixth hole plays along the Starr Pass stagecoach trail where in 1880 Richard Starr ran stagecoaches through the pass to give visitors a an opportunity to experience the wilds of western Tucson.  And what a fantastic and fun hole - a short 351 yard par four that will temp to to pull out the big dog and risk trying to fly the uphill blind shot through a narrow slot to a downhill green with a huge bunker procting a green with no room for error. 

Coyote is the most lady friendly of the 27 holes at Starr Pass thanks to less forced carries, but it is still no walk in the park for men or women.  You'll encounter blind shots, slots, well protected and elevated greens, strategically placed bunkers of all shapes and sizes, elevation changes, and contoured and sloping fairways that at times seem pretty tight.  And some very fun and interesting holes.  A  fantastic nine holes that you'll want to play again. 

Like all the nines, the conditions on Coyote are excellent, the greens have slope and undulation and are in great condition, and the bunkers can cause you some real trouble. 

Rating and Slope was based on Coyote/Rattler Course play. 

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 3,512 73.0 138
Blue 3,118 69.0 130
White 2,965 67.5 123
Gold 3,391 71.2 135
Red 2,593 70.8 125

Course Information

Course Architect:
Arnold Palmer Redesign
Greens Type:
Bent Grass
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Beware of water on 0 holes and the 21 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

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


Approximate Weekend
$49.00 to $215.00

Service is excellent form the bag boys to the pro shop to the starter and the the cart lady. The 200,000 square foot club house is home to a well stocked pro shop and a good restaurant. The practice facility is excellent.



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.