Wild about the ‘Cats Home
The interest of those we meet has happened on past reviews trips, so it was no surprise that it occurred repeatedly in our time in Tucson. One of the bi-products of being a golf writer and on these trips more succinctly a golf course reviewer is this genuine interest in what course we will be playing and ultimately reviewing. It elicits various responses and opinions.
One person will say, “I hate that course”, where the next one will state, “It’s one of my favorites”. I always take the posture that the choices and likes of each golfer are as varied as their swings. There probably isn’t a style of course I don’t like, but there are certainly ones I really like.
My time living in the UK, especially on the northeast coast of England, and up in Fife, Scotland at St. Andrews converted me from a parkland treed golf course lover to nearly the exact opposite; a lover of links golf. I should have been born along the coast of Scotland, not eastern Canada.
There are no true links courses in Arizona, not one, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t fall in love with many courses here in the southwest. Our final day of golfing in Tucson before heading westward to Yuma was teeing it up at an absolute gem of a course. Sewailo Golf Club was one of those courses when I mentioned the name to locals and other out of town golfers garnered the same general response.
All positive, extremely so. Even those who said it ate them up play it regularly or can’t wait to play it again. Yes, some golfers are masochists, but it wouldn’t be for that reason you would play Sewailo repeatedly. One of the Troon managed flagship facilities, it’s a knockout of a layout. The hole most fear or resent – the Par 5 10th is outstanding. Intimidating yes, but fantastic; a bigger yes.
It’s also home to the University of Arizona Wildcats golf team. When your course is the home course of an NCAA division one university it’s going to be outstanding. We’ve played numerous courses that are the home course and training ground for top US Colleges and Universities.
They are outstanding and Sewailo is the cream of the crop. The ladies team is also the 2018 NCAA champs which is no small feat. Located very close to the Casino Del Sol complex, it’s basically 18 incredible holes laid out in the desert. Ex-PGA Tour player and The Golf Channel Analyst Notah Begay is recognized as the designer and has succeeded in every aspect of golf course design.
He is not singularly responsible obviously for the construction and maintenance. Superintendent Paul Elwood has a key role in upgrading the course and the installation of a few new forward tees on some longer holes is in the works.
Here’s what awaits you at Sewailo. Before even setting off from where we were staying a courtesy email was sent from the pro shop to say that there was a frost delay. I thought great – I can have more toast. Arriving in plenty of time and waiting at Sewailo was one of those rare occasions where it was not an inconvenience.
The lovely and helpful Jessica helped me unload the Golfmobile upon arrival at the bag drop. Mack and Cesar, who had emailed me earlier, working in the pro shop were on point making the check in swift and relaxing.
The time we spent in meeting GM, Laura Beuhring, was very rewarding and informative. We also spent some valuable time with new Head Professional, Chad Gurney. I mean, like still looking for a place to hang his jacket new, one week to be exact. If his teaching skills and work ethic match his friendly personality then he will excel at Sewailo.
The practice facility is of the highest standard and we were able to take our time and hit balls to target greens, use the chipping green and then try and gauge the speed of the practice putting green. My guess would be about 10 – 11ish on the stimp meter, smooth and true.
When you are in a frost delay, the starter is the main man and DJ was in fine form. Constantly on the move, clipboard in hand, in his very friendly, but efficient manner DJ coordinated a throng of awaiting golfers efficiently to the first tee. It was easy to see he loved his job and was excellent at it. My vote for Tucson’s best starter. We were paired up with another twosome and set off to take on this work of golfing art.
The first hole was a gentle one really, but the joy of playing it occurred when you stepped onto the green or let’s say double green. Literally my favorite feature in golf course green design. All the boasting and showing off to a nice older gent from Minnesota on the practice putting green disappeared. I three putted on the double green twice; once on the first hole and again on the eighth which it shared.
Throw in 7 more 3 putts and possibly one 1 putt and you have a day of plus 40 in putting. None of this is attributed to green quality. My dear departed Dad use to say when I told him my putter let me down, “It’s not the small lump on the bottom, but the big lump at the top to blame”.
Myra’s play was far more of a highlight than mine. I had 4 drives pushing the three-hundred-yard plateau almost driving the 305 yards final hole.
There was an exacting nature to the shape and delineation of each hole with well placed greenside bunkers throughout. The fairway bunkering framed landing areas effectively and the turf grass on the fairways was so lush it almost looked artificial. There’s no point in describing many of the holes, they all complement each other. The ultimate hole is the 10th a long sweeping dog leg right off the tee with bunkers up the sloped left side. At about the 320 mark is a water filled small creek and then the fairway bends back slightly uphill to a green flanked by bunkers to the right and behind the green. Par this hole and email all your golfing buddies and gloat.It must be a fact that land is not limited when you build a championship golf course in the desert. The remarkable layout was sprawling and at no time were errant shots from other groups of golfers of any threat to the serenity of this masterpiece.
I don’t know what it will take to be invited back to play, but I have to play this course again. Maybe the next time I’ll get a putting lesson or hire a caddy. A fitting end to 4 great rounds of golf in Tucson, saving the best for last.