Ritz-Carlton adds resort and spa to WGC-caliber golf course

By Mike BaileyFebruary 16, 2010, 2:16 am
ritz carlton dove mountain
The par-4 ninth hole at Ritz-Carlton Golf Club's Tortolita nine. (Russell Kirk/Ritz-Carlton)

MARANA, Ariz. – There's a new bonus to ranking as one of the top 64 players in the world. Not only does it secure you a spot in the WGC Accenture Match Play, but the pros can stay near the golf course in luxurious surroundings.

And now you can too.

For more golf in Arizona, or to plan your next trip, visit GolfArizona.com
Just in time for its second Match Play Championship, Ritz-Carlton has added a world-class resort and spa to the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course.

Opened in December 2009, the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain resort nestles into the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains north of Tucson. Giant saguaros grace the Sonoran Desert landscape as great care preserved several of the majestic plants next to the hotel.

The resort features a large spa, meeting rooms, fantastic restaurants and 250 ultra-comfortable and functional guest rooms. Guests can also enjoy an array of outdoor activities, including trail riding, biking, a jeep tour and 27 holes of Nicklaus-signature golf.

This marks the 72nd Ritz-Carlton property worldwide, and it's one of the Marriott-owned company's most exceptional.

'You can see that this is going to morph into something very, very special,' said Stephen Deucker, director of sales and marketing of the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain.

Golf at the Ritz-Carlton

No matter the high quality of the spa and restaurants at the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, it all starts with the golf course. The Accenture Match Play, contested nearby at the Gallery Golf Club's South Course before moving to the Ritz-Carlton last year, utilizes the Tortolita and Saguaro nines.

Other golf options at the resort include the Tortolita/Wild Burro combination and the Wild Burro/Saguaro.

After the inaugural event drew criticism from players, Nicklaus' team made modifications – mostly on the severely undulating greens. Most of the holes changed, ranging from minor adjustments to more drastic measures that included the addition and relocation of bunkers.

The changes don't make the course any easier, especially for the resort golfer, but they do allow for more pin placements and higher green speeds, notably in tournament play. Nicklaus believes the course will develop into a favorite among the world's top players and resort guests. For now, though, it's in tip-top shape with plenty of interesting holes.

And lest we forget the Wild Burro nine, absent from the tournament rotation. Nicklaus describes it as his favorite layout among the three nines. At the very least, it's a great complement to the Tortolita and Saguaro. With its use of lakes and other design characteristics, it has a different look than the others, too.

An easy recovery at the Ritz-Carlton spa

The resort is about a five-minute shuttle ride from the golf course. And while walking back and forth is unreasonable, it is within the 850-acre property, which also includes residential units for sale.

Upon arrival, notice how the hotel lobby opens to a large deck, pool, and the great outdoors behind the resort. To your left sits the resort's 17,000-square foot spa, which, according to promotional material, 'embraces the enchanting habitat' of the surrounding mountain desert landscape.

With one of the finest setups in the Southwest, the spa offers 14 private treatment rooms, two esthetic rooms, a hydrotherapy room, Vichy shower and two oversized suites ideal for couples therapy. You can get a massage, facial, body treatments and a number of other services, including manicures, pedicures and hair salon treatments.

The layout includes separate facilities for men and women with secluded jacuzzis, saunas and steam rooms. Outside, you'll find an outstanding co-ed area with a pool situated in front of petroglyphs that date thousands of years. You can even schedule a lunar massage near the outdoor fire pits that illuminate a terrace.

Dining at a higher level at the Ritz-Carlton

Rarely do you see a chef who enjoys his work as much as Joel Harrington, who was lured from the renowned Fearing's Restaurant in Dallas.

Easy to spot with his mohawk hairdo as he walks through the Core Kitchen and Wine Bar – the Ritz's signature restaurant – Harrington often visits with guests, getting their feedback and telling his story.

This is unlike most dining experiences. Harrington's talent involes his imagination and ability to combine unusual ingredients. Have you ever tried avocado fries? How about Vermont syrup as a base ingredient for the lacquer in a chili-lacquered New York steak?

The menu blends the best of American flavors at the Core, though it's anything but ordinary. Unless you're a vegetarian, don't pass on the filet of buffalo. You won't need a knife or any sauce.

The wine room is fully stocked and then some. Or you can check out the Ignite lobby lounge, which offers a wide array of single-malt scotch, whiskey and brews from around the world.

Ritz Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain: The verdict

If you're looking for an upscale golf and spa experience, you won't be disappointed. Being new, it may need to work out a few kinks. But largely, it's a very serene experience – important if you have a little trouble with the Nicklaus greens or fail to reach the par-4 holes in regulation. It's an 8,000-yard golf course, so make sure you play the right tees.

I've been fortunate to enjoy a few spa experiences in the past few years, and this ranked right up there with the best. First, the massage treatment was first rate. My therapist hit all the right spots without causing undue pain. Additionally, the jacuzzi was very therapeutic. Relaxing under the stars – in both men's and co-ed areas – just added to the ambiance.

The rooms are also spot-on. Most impressive was the giant tub, big enough to accommodate a small swim meet. The tub allows full immersion in front of a small, flat-screen TV perched near the faucet. A separate shower, plus two his and her basins make the bathroom the envy of most luxury venues.

The room itself is state of the art. You can connect your computer to the large, high-definition LCD television to preview PowerPoint presentations or simply to watch HD programming. (Yes, hotels are finally marrying the high-def TV with an HD signal.) A very comfortable bed, dimmers on every light switch, turn-down service, an honor bar, a functional work area, high-speed Internet and great views of the desert complete the picture.

Ritz Carlton golf packages

The best way to enjoy the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain? Book a golf-and-spa package. As of early 2010, the resort offered packages that started as low as $529 a night for accommodations, two rounds of golf, two spa treatments, valet parking and breakfast. For more information, visit www.ritzcarlton.com/dovemountain.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.