While conceiving his first golf course in the Tucson area in 25 years, Jack Nicklaus’ mission was to design a venue that would satisfy three distinct audiences:
• The game’s best players, who would compete annually in an elite championship event
• Guests of a world-class destination golf resort
• Private club members of a new luxury golf community
The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain, a 27-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course that opened in January 2009, is everything Nicklaus intended. And more.
The design not only lived up to expectations as host of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, but the course continues to capture the imagination of club members and guests alike, as they follow in the footsteps of golfing greats — precisely what Nicklaus wanted from its inception.
“You have the opportunity to relate to those players,” Nicklaus said, “and say, ‘Hey, I saw Tiger here, he didn’t get it up-and-down, and I did.’ Those are the kind of things that I think make the game fun.”
A reflection of the High Sonoran Desert’s lush, mountainside terrain, The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain presents unique challenges and distinct character, blended naturally among noble saguaros that stand beneath the surrounding Tortolita Mountain Range. Nicklaus has integrated solid strategy, variety and fair shot values that harmonize with the high desert elevation of 2,300 to 3,000 feet.
Although the fairways are generously wide overall, there are carries over desert washes required on several tee and approach shots. Five sets of tees accommodate appropriate playing levels. The bunkering varies from classic, deep pot-style obstacles to expansive areas that stretch close to 80 yards along the fairways.
The two tournament nines — the Saguaro and Tortolita — form a par 72 that measure 7,833 yards. Not only will they pose a significant challenge to the world’s best players, the courses were laid out to accommodate the best gallery viewing areas, including a natural grassy amphitheatre that surrounds the ninth green of the Tortolita Course.
“I’m going to promise you, in two or three years this is going to be one of the favorite golf courses on the PGA TOUR,” Nicklaus predicts. “These guys are going to learn it how to play it and say, ‘It’s a challenge, but man, I enjoy playing it.’ That’s going to happen.”
Designed along 850 acres, The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain includes a luxurious 250-room Ritz-Carlton resort hotel, The Ritz-Carlton Spa® nestled into the serene mountainside, the world-class Golf Club and The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain.
Inspired by the richness and beauty of its lush desert surroundings, The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain provides panoramic views as it creates a luxurious, yet authentic desert experience. The geologic makeup of the Tortolita Mountains served as inspiration for the architecture, with a variety of natural materials used to emphasize the structure’s connection to the high-desert landscape. Stone and metal are two elements that are keys to the design, with intricate steps taken to preserve the materials as closely as possible to their natural state. This celebration of Arizona’s geology continues with an interior design that showcases natural quartzite floors, raw steel fixtures, copper accents, and historical artifacts, such as geodes and quartz crystal. The many natural elements at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, complemented by luxurious service in a relaxed and casual setting, create an authentic Arizona experience for which the Tucson area is known.
The resort’s invigorating playground reaches out through a majestic Saguaro forest, where the adventurous can engage the lush desert along the Tortolita Mountains. Activities range from a casual nature walk to mounting up for an authentic, Old West trail ride, as guests at Dove Mountain will have 20 miles of National Park quality hiking trails, adventure programs, along with marked mountain biking routes and guided jeep tours. They can then cool off in one of three swimming pools, one of which has a 235-foot adventure water slide for the young and the young at heart.
Above all, however, is an elite golf venue intended to be shared by friends and legends alike.
“Coming back and doing a golf course that not only is for the community, but also for the tournament, is something very special to me,” Nicklaus said.