El Rio

El Rio Municipal GC, Tucson. William P. Bell, 1934.

I played this course a lot over one summer in Tucson when I could play after 4 in the afternoon for $4, if I walked. I wasn’t fighting crowds on those hot summer afternoons, but I really enjoyed the classic routing of the course. It’s not even 6,500 yards but offers plenty of challenge with only two par 5s making the par 70.

There’s some clever design here—the cross bunker on the second makes that hole a beast and the short 13th is classic design. The 14th would be better if they cut down all the trees inside the dogleg and brought the pond down the left into play, but it’s still a stout par 4. The primary defense of the course is its small, perched greens. In the dry, hot summer those were an adventure to try to hold, but I imagine they’re no bargain even when the course isn’t so firm. This is the first course where I broke 70—thanks to an eagle on the par-5 final hole, where you could get home in two, but only if you could cut your tee shot around the giant driving range net at the corner of the dogleg. I’m guessing that was not an original design feature.

Arizona 7th Decile [2002]

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