Built in 1986 to host the PGA Tour’s Tucson Open, the 18-hole Starr Pass Golf Course (800.503.2898, www.starrpasstucson.com) proved a challenge even to the professionals. Its “difficult personality” had been exasperating lesser players ever since, says Starr Pass golf pro Brian Weaver, so the club recently overhauled the existing course and, in February, opened an additional nine holes.
Under the guidance of Arnold Palmer’s design company, workers smoothed undulations on Starr Pass’ fairways, made its bunkers less cavernous, and added a fifth set of tee boxes to the course. Palmer also designed the nine new holes, which weave through the Sonoran Desert while affording views of the Tucson, Rincon, and Santa Catalina mountain ranges. The new routing’s debut coincided with the opening of the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa (520.792.3500, www.jwmarriottstarrpass.com), a 575-room, Southwestern-style hotel that has helped transform Starr Pass into a complete, as well as completely enjoyable, destination.