“People Always Come Back” to Tucson, Arizona
Temperatures and competition heated up as the annual Champions PGA rolled into the Omni Tucson National for the Conquistadors Classic. Honored to play in the Jose Cuervo Pro Am, festivities began with the pairings party. Our foursome hadn’t quite strategized when called for the number 3 pro pick but the other players were adamant about having an afternoon tee time and Kenny Perry stood out on that list. The big western Kentuckian’s stature matches his kindness. All were nervous on the tee box, but Kenny put us at ease with a first swing shank across the street. His second shot was a beauty. His caddie Toni is a true cut up and the afternoon was filled with camaraderie on the outstanding Catalina Course. It is laid out with 8 sparkling lakes and 80 bunkers below the namesake Catalina Mountains. Tom Lehman won tournament and might have had an advantage spending practice time since he designed the sister Sonoran Course at Omni Tucson National. The big winners are the local kids and First Tee who are beneficiaries of the Conquistadors charity dollars raised by the Classic.
The Casino del Sol was lit up as weekend gamblers and spring break golfers filled it to capacity. Accommodations are ideal for mixing relaxation and a little work at the efficient desk with a view of the pool and golf course. The pool complex is the antidote to after round muscle pains. Multiple fountains in the large swimming pool pulsate cool water on the neck. Alternate with hot jets on the lumbar and shins in two of the best working Jacuzzis worldwide and the kinks are relieved.
This is the property of the Pascua Yaqui tribe, meaning flower people, which is personified by all the floral on the Sewailo Golf Course, designed by Notah Begay. Though it is no tiptoe through the tulips with all the streams, ponds, massive bunkering and scrub desert with snake warning signs; it is the epitome of a desert oasis. Navigate successfully around this course without planting yourself in trouble and “you’re a daisy if you do.”
The PY Steakhouse is an exquisite upscale dining experience next to the casino game room. Chefs behind the open kitchen creatively flavor food from local purveyors. They are vegetable and polenta magicians with seafood preparations as astounding as the meat and poultry. Begin with steak tartar and light calamari with a Korean aioli and don’t fill up on the delicious bread with honey chili or cinnamon pecan butter before the incredible main course. Let the knowledgeable wait staff guide you through the extensive menu and daily specials to ensure your optimum selections. The mixologist takes pride in concoctions using Whiskey Del Bac, distilled locally with a mesquite smoke flavor that recently won double gold at the San Francisco Spirits competition.
El Charro in downtown Tucson is the nation’s oldest Mexican restaurant continuously operated by the same family. Its popularity is evident by the lines of people waiting outside. Call for a reservation. The signature carne seca might require an acquired taste but the fajitas surpass expectations of any palate with baby green beans mixed into the sautéed peppers and onions . The shrimp and cage free chicken are flavored and textured perfectly. Rooms throughout the house are colorfully decorated invoking a fiesta mood, Ole!
Visit Tucson for an authentic and eclectic western mix of new and old. Tourism professional Dan Gibson describes it as “a little grittier maybe than Scottsdale and super relaxed. In the very best restaurants you can walk in wearing jeans.” Beyond missions, museums and very special golf courses, Tucson has culture and a soul. You can’t help but fall in love with the spirit. Dan says, “People always come back.” We always will.
Photo Credits: Omni Tucson National & Hotels.com