Dell Urich (formerly Randolph South) re-opened in the spring of 1996 following a dramatic makeover by Ken Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh is famous for designing Longbow Golf Club in Mesa and Gold Canyon Golf Resort, but he still had some big shoes to fill – Randolph South was designed in 1961 by William F. Bell, the man who designed and built Torrey Pines in San Diego.
The overhaul was long overdue, and you can tell Kavanaugh moved some dirt around. What was once a flat, parkland-style golf course is now an undulating visual masterpiece named in honor of Randolph’s late longtime head professional. Dell Urich may not have the tournament resume of its neighbor, Randolph North, but it still hosted the LPGA’s Welch’s/Fry’s Championship in 2003 and 2004 and certainly doesn’t have to take a back seat. It’s a lot prettier.
In my opinion, the layout shrouded by trees and surrounded by spectacular mountain backdrops in the middle of the city is the far superior of the two courses managed by Scottsdale’s OB Sports. Dell Urich plays 6,629 yards from the Blue Tees to a Par of 70, a course rating of 70.2, and a slope of 123. Here are some of the highlights of the round:
Holes Worth Writing Home About
Because the course doubles as a flood plain and because it’s been a wet summer in Tucson, the bermudagrass fairways and greens are in pretty good shape. My favorite hole on the front nine was the Par 4 8th. At 457 yards, it’s just the 2nd-hardest hole on the course. I hit a pretty good drive from a slightly elevated tee (one of many elevation changes) on the dogleg right and still had to hit a 223-yard hybrid to reach the green. It’s a great hole, and I was really happy just to escape with a par.
My favorite hole on the back nine was the 193-yard Par 3 11th. There are two sets of tees on this hole, one set to the left and one to the right, and where they put the tee markers drastically varies the player’s angle into the hole. I hit my tee shot onto the left side of the green, and had a next-to-impossible look at birdie because of the slope that divides the green. If you come up short, you’re left with a difficult pitch shot to an elevated green.
There are storm drains throughout the course, and while we were waiting to tee off on 11, we saw a pair of coyotes jump out of a culvert and start horsing around. They say nature finds a way – even in an urban environment like a municipal golf course.
Your best rates are still online at Tucson City Golf. We got out on a Sunday afternoon for just $17 plus tax. If you want to warm-up before your round, you might want to bring some cash. The automated ball machine out on the driving range is temperamental. Last time I was out here, the machine accepted my credit card. This time, it would only take cash. And I had to get my own basket off of the range because it had been hours since an attendant retrieved them.
There’s a reason why city golf courses sometimes get a stigma attached to them. The customer service experience can suffer. Don’t expect to find a scorecard waiting for you on your golf cart.
The best shot of the day came off the club of the friend I was playing with. After missing the green on the Par 3 11th, Chris Feerick found his ball on the 12th tee and faced a seemingly impossible up-and-down. He hit his pitch to within six feet and calmly made the putt for par like it was something he had intended to do all along. Shot of the day.
While We’re Young
For the first time since I’ve been reviewing golf courses (dating back to January), I’ve always been able to finish the round I’ve started. Sadly, that was not the case today. I was bummed too because I was loving the layout! On the back nine, it was a regular occurrence for our foursome to arrive at the tee only to find 2-3 groups waiting to play. This happened on multiple tee boxes, and a marshal was nowhere to be found.
It took us more than two hours to play the front nine, and when we rolled up on yet another back-up as we approached the 14th hole, we decided to call it quits. We had already been on the course for over three hours, and the round was on pace to take more than five hours to complete. That’s ridiculous! That’s why I include the “While We’re Young” section as part of the review. Less than two weeks ago, we played Randolph North – on a Friday no less – in three hours, and that round could have been 30-45 minutes faster. This is why golf gets a bad rap. There’s no reason why our round at Dell Urich should have taken as long as it did. Play faster people!
Next On the Tee
Ancala Country Club, a private course in Scottsdale. This is a class reward from 2nd Semester at the Golf Academy. As a class, we had 94% attendance for the semester. We had to have a class attendance percentage above 93% to qualify.