Arizona golf: Smaller can be better at Omni Tucson National Resort

TUCSON, Ariz. - In Tucson, smaller can most certainly be better when it comes to luxury golf resorts.

While many of the area's top resorts are big properties with up to 400 or 500 rooms, Omni Tucson National Resort delivers all the amenities of the larger resorts on a much smaller scale.

Set on 650 acres, Omni Tucson National Resort's main amenities are all centrally located. The resort has a Mobil four-star spa, stylish pool area with private cabanas, plus a 36-hole golf club -- and it's all right at your doorstep. No shuttle from the parking lot is needed. The resort has just 128 guest rooms and 23 larger hacienda suites with full kitchens. A $30 million renovation was recently done to the resort, which included new dining and meeting facilities and public areas, plus upgraded guest rooms.

The resort features one of the area's original resort golf courses, the Catalina Course, which hosted the PGA Tour's Tucson Open until 2006. Now the tour regularly plays through the Tucson area at the new Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain for the Accenture Match Play Championship. But staff members say a few tour pros -- including Padraig Harrington and Ryo Ishikawa -- and their families opt to stay at the Omni Tucson National Resort during the week, taking full advantage of the resort's quiet, secluded atmosphere and tour-ready practice facilities just outside their rooms.

Omni Tucson National Resort's Catalina and Sonoran golf courses

Of all the multi-course resorts in Tucson, such as The Lodge at Ventana Canyon and El Conquistador Resort, Omni Tuscon National Resort's two golf courses resemble the starkest contrast between each other.

The Catalina Course plays below on flatter land, while the Sonoran Course heads up into the desert. The original Catalina Course, named for the mountain that looms above (and most members agree putts break away from), dates back to 1963 and has hosted more than 30 PGA Tour events.

A traditional parkland design by Robert Von Hagge and Bruce Devlin, it was built long before the era of new, target-style desert courses that play on far more harsh, rugged desert landscape. Rather, the Catalina Course is a walk in the park, including shady tall trees and eight lakes, and most members at the semi-private club opt to walk the golf course.

In all likelihood, your ball won't find its way under a cactus on the Catalina Course. Rest assured, there are plenty of chances to get up close and personal with the desert's signature Saguaros and desert plant life on the newer Sonoran Course at Omni Tucson National. It's a Tom Lehman design that is up-and-down, target-desert golf to the fullest. The golf course plays less than 6,700 yards but requires precision to keep the ball in play.

19th holes at Omni Tucson National Resort: Dining and bars

Omni hotels like Bob's Steak & Chophouse so much, originally founded in Dallas in 1993, they bought the franchise, which consists of a handful of locations throughout the U.S. It's the signature restaurant at Omni Tucson National Resort. Bob's formula includes a selection of prime steaks, served with giant carrots, and a jar of pickles is served at the table before your meal.

Among the renovations, Omni Tucson National Resort recently added a new sports bar, Legends, which has numerous TVs, plenty of beer, a bar menu and even shuffleboard.

Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for GolfPass and was the founding editor of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at @btuck34.
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Though much smaller than the Valley of the Sun, Tucson's golf courses pack a major punch, with scores of courses ranging from executive casual plays to high-end, nationally recognized courses. It offers great golf for players on three different budgets, from La Paloma Country Club on the high end to El Rio Golf Course on the low end.
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Arizona golf: Smaller can be better at Omni Tucson National Resort