Wild Wild Best: Tubac Golf Resort & Spa

The grounds at Tubac Golf Resort & Spa

Picture a round or two among cottonwoods, cows and cacti set against Arizona’s dramatic Santa Cruz mountain ranges.

By Joanne Miller

Just a zippy 35-mile drive south of Tucson International Airport and 20-miles north of Nogales, Mexico, Tubac Golf Resort & Spa is nestled within Santa Rita and Tumacácori Mountain ranges on historic and picturesque 1789 Otero Ranch.

The resort opened in 1959 with celebrity backing by crooner Bing Crosby, and is now celebrating its 60th fabulous year. With a total of 60 Western feature films shot in the surrounding area, Tubac has played host to numerous Hollywood mid-Century icons. Hollywood simply cannot get enough of Tubac – “Tin Cup,” the 1996 romantic comedy starring Kevin Costner, was filmed on the resort grounds.

For Golfers

Tubac Golf Resort & Spa island green

Red Lawrence designed the 27-hole championship course that spans across both sides of the Santa Cruz River. The course offers challenging and undulating holes along with spectacular views. The course includes the Anza Nine, Otero Nine and Rancho Nine. The “Otero Nine” pays homage to the estate’s original owners while Tucson-based course architect Ken Kavanaugh designed eight of the new nine holes. Bent grass greens and Bermuda grass fairways over seeded with winter rye in fall yield a truly stunning course. Split-rail fencing defines cart paths and fairways while the pro shop is brimming with the latest and greatest golf accessories, equipment and ensembles. Proper attire with soft spikes is expected and required on the public course.

Cantina serves as a shady oasis and offers refreshing beverages and made-to-order Mexican fare to sate thirst and hunger after a grueling round.

For Lovebirds

Lovebirds truly rate Tubac Golf Resort & Spa. Many opt to propose, wed or renew their sacred vows within the estate’s achingly romantic 17th-Century Mission-style chapel. Beloved guests appreciate authentic furnishings adorning each of the 98 charming lodgings while the lauded spa and salon is a haven for those in need of pampering.

For Foodies

Cuisine at Tubac Golf Resort & Spa

Tranquil indoor and alfresco patio dining accompanied by a jaw-dropping view await at the historic Otero House. Giant old-growth Cottonwoods stand protectively behind the 140-yard par-3 finishing hole’s island green. The waterway teeming with geese and ducks, cattle languidly grazing and the Santa Rita Mountains round out the idyllic dining experience.

For Loungers

Spanish Colonial lodging varies with casitas, haciendas, posadas and the sophisticated Otero Suite – each of which honor Arizona’s storied past with eclectic flair. Additionally, most rooms feature a patio to enjoy sublime Southwestern sunrises and sunsets. Guests can be as spirited or as sloth-like as they choose: play golf or tennis, unwind at the desert spa or unwine(d) by saddlin’ up to the bar and consider an impressive array of tequilas to whet the most discerning of whistles at the tack room-inspired Stables Ranch Bar.

A suite at Tubac

For Explorers

With ancestral and geopolitical ties to Mexico, Spain and the USA dating back to the early 1700s, the town of Tubac is steeped with history. Just like the resort, the artistic township celebrated its 60th year in business, and played host to the annual Tubac Arts Festival in February 2019. A leisurely one-mile stroll or two-minute drive and resort guests find themselves in Tubac’s Town Center where they can unearth its countless treasures.

Tubac shop

For those who’d rather remain on resort grounds, there’s Pancho’s – the resort’s onsite home décor and interior design service. Housed within a barn that’s over 100 years old and complete with grain silos, resident fossickers and husband and wife Dennis and Lorraine Rowden have scoured the globe in search of an eclectic array of South East Asian, Southwestern and Spanish Colonial pieces to adorn your space. Finally, the Gift Shop is your go-to for takeaway refreshments, overlooked toiletries, stationery and souvenirs.


Respected global travel tomes agree that Tubac is atop of many bucket lists.

Condé Nast Traveler named Tubac 1 of 14 ‘Must see, up-and-coming global destinations’; USA Today Travel named Tubac ‘1 of 10 best cold weather escapes in the USA’; and Tucson Lifestyle Magazine declared the Spa at Tubac Golf Resort ‘Best Resort Spa’.

Be sure to add Tubac Golf Resort & Spa to your list and book your lodgings, tee and spa times for the upcoming busy Fall and Winter seasons.

For more information please call 520.398.3533 or visit tubacgolfresort.com

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