Stays Hilton Sedona Resort â€“ This busy/resort property is actually in Oak Creek and some rooms have unbelievable views of Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. Typical Hilton resort look and quality with beehive fireplaces, balconies or decks; two nice pools; good spa; commendable restaurant. We liked being in Oak Creek rather than overwrought Sedona, and the course is right across the parking lot. Westward Look Resort (Tucson) â€“ It was a toss up for us as to which property was most special, Westward Look or Tubac. Westward Look has desert-in-the-city ambience and lickety-split access to the Catalinas. The dry spa offers the typical treatments and a nice array of Ayurvedic therapies. Take the early morning walk with the resortâ€™s horticulturalist and learn loads about the indigenous flora and the riot of exotics introduced to this former adobe abode during its 90 years of existence. Saturday morns the chef takes interested parties through the onsite herb and vegetable gardens. Most of the rooms are what the Rio would call suites; we know theyâ€™re big, comforting living spaces in which you feel right at home. Hey, Ramper, they provide bath sheets, not scrawny little hotel towels. JW Marriott Starr Pass (Tucson) â€“ Since Marriott was in from the ground floor it has some of the look of Desert Springs and Desert Ridge, not the one-time Regent in Summerlin. Shockingly striking location in the rocks and desert hills with fantastico views of the city and mountains. The rooms are perfectly equipped with muy inviting linens and beds, soaking tubs and big showers. But they arenâ€™t big by any stretch of the imagination â€¦ about 400 s.f. In fact, so as not to overload the available space two-bedded rooms feature doubles, not queens. Demerit. The place does a load of business business and as happens at most desert resorts, locals flock in with the kiddies because of the great deals offered. The Italian joint and the â€œcafÃ©â€ â€“ itâ€™s functionally a very good restaurant that offers a diverse menu along with breakfast and lunch. Spa, killer course, hiking trails and single-track mountain-biking are all at hand. Lotsa overflights from Tucson International and Davis-Monthan. Demerit. Nightly gratis tequila toast. Kudos. Tubac Golf Resort â€“ The little resort that could 40 miles south of Tucson â€¦ and home to a good part of the film Tin Cup. If you experienced Tubac in the past and gave it not a second thought, you arenâ€™t alone. But now, itâ€™s wow. Theyâ€™re putting 40 mill into the joint, and it shows. All the original rooms â€“ posadas â€“ and casitas â€“suites â€“ have or are being top-to-bottomed. We opted for one of the just-opened haciendas, which are set up like the Venetian with a sleeping area and a step-down living room, but of course itâ€™s dressed up in saltillo pavers, Talavera tile, bullnose corners and exposed beams, so it beats hell out of Sheldonâ€™s Palace of Excess. The haciendas check in just a tick behind THEhotel for room size, and you get a DEEP jetted tub and a true walk-in tiled shower, beehive fireplace, patio, flat-screen telly, cd player and it all adds up to an easy excuse not to leave the room. Tubac is the site of the first Spanish land grant and many of the original buildings remain. A small zocalo with galleries just opened, a spa and regional/Mex restaurant are on the way, the course sports a new clubhouse and locker facilities and an additional nine holes are being constructed. Itâ€™s a quaint, relaxing, great place to get away. Golf StoneRidge (Prescott Valley) â€“ Ignore the old man in the ranger cart and play it back because if you go from the middling tees you run into a lot of cookie-cutter short, dogleg-right uphill par 4s on the back. 18 was a hoot â€“ 600 yards downhill and downwind. I played it driver, 6-iron and even managed a two-putt bird despite hitting the wrong side of the alpine ridge that divides the massive green. Hey, I got home in two, donâ€™t diss the approach â€¦ and I didnâ€™t three-jack, this time. LOL Sedona Golf Resort â€“ Kinda hard to knock the red rock views, and of course being a quality play only adds to the experience. Let me know if youâ€™ve ever driven #18. Tucson National â€“ I played with one of Ted Turnerâ€™s private pilots, a 30-something guy whose job makes mine look like an endless stint in a coal mine. Itâ€™s always fun to play a course used by the big boys, and after such a steady diet of desert golf I get a kick out of a traditional track. Rather straight ahead golf. The Green nine is down pending its fusion with a new nine thatâ€™s under construction. Starr Pass (27) â€“ Another of those courses that proved too tough for the pampered pros. Play it back and enjoy some of the blind, 200-yard carries. LOL Just an outstanding desert course and nothing formulaic about it â€“ the original 18, at least â€“ at all: long/short, risk/reward, strategic/heroic. The new nine designed by Palmerâ€™s group is a good play but it sticks out like a sore thumb. Time will heal some of that because the original routing has a big head start in the flora and fauna department. But honestly, Palmer has his style and itâ€™s not really about fusing with what pre-existed. If I owned the joint Iâ€™d have had him design a new 18 rather than the half-half blend this will be when the fourth nine opens. The â€œsignatureâ€ through-the-pass hole (#6 Coyote/#15 on the old routing) isnâ€™t as neat as everyone made it out to be, but mostly because there are some truly stellar/eat-you-alive holes out in those desert hills. Tubac Golf Resort â€“ Short, some water, lotsa trees, wiry rough, and a demand on playing smart and shaping shots; like Merion, a course need not be 7,400 yards to be worthy. A former Spanish/Mexican rancho, cattle were recently reintroduced to the resort to add authenticity, and you play right through them before you hit over the river on #12. Nice touch, and say hi to â€œGeorgiaâ€ and give her a scratch on the snout. A good portion of the back plays through a gorgeous mesquite grove. Yes, you can score, but itâ€™s not a snore. Canoa Ranch â€“ Retirement haven Green Valley has a big bruising course to call its very own, finally. (OK, San Ignacio has always beaten me up.) Designed by â€“ who else? â€“ Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley (LV Paiute, Siena, Bali Hai and seemingly half the new courses in the country), this track hugs the desert and arroyos like a stealth fighter with stickem on its wings. L-O-N-G par 3s â€“ one played 230 dead into the wind and it took 4-wood to get there â€“ tabletop holes, canyon holes, and perhaps the best 18th hole masquerading as the 9th not otherwise located in Monterey â€¦ switch the nines, people!! Sycuan Willow Glen and Oak Glen â€“ The former Singing Hills Country Club now owned/operated by the Sycuan Indians. More tree-and-a-prayer golf. Sycuan doesnâ€™t get much attention here in golf nutty So Cal but I found it to be a much more interesting and enjoyable track (tracks, actually, two full-sized 18s and an exec) than I imagined. In many spots you can long-wrong it and survive, but bring your bark wedge. Golf sidebar â€“ Many of you know Iâ€™m a bit of an equipment junkie. Yet while I donâ€™t play RockFlites â€“ I typically play Precept U-Tri balls â€“ I donâ€™t retain friendships long enough with golf balls to justify Pro V1s. Canoa had a deal with a sleeve tossed in with the green fee, so I packed the little sacred orbs away for use on the friendlier, relationship-enhancing confines of Sycuan. All I can say is that the hype ainâ€™t hype. They are monstrously long. They feel like butter. They flight perfectly. They spin like Linda Blairâ€™s head (but not excessively, like the old Spalding Tour Edition when it first came out â€¦ remember those???). Wow. Other fun As noted, on the way home we put in at Sycuan (San Diego) for two nights. Nice look to the new portion of the casino; perhaps the worst VP schedules Iâ€™ve ever seen â€¦ how does 7/5 DDB sound? We also toured Golden Acorn and Viejas (cool outlet mall). Sorry, Indian casinos just donâ€™t do it for us, I guess. We took a number of little 4-5 mile hikes in Tucson and Sedona, and I now have the pink-hued footwear to prove at least the latter. As part of our Canyon in â€™07 Waistline-and-Heart Rehabilitation Project â€“ we had to delay the venture seven months â€˜cause Phantom Ranch is sold out through 1/4/07, so weâ€™re gonna do Canyonlands in â€™06 as an intermediate step â€“ weâ€™re trying to work hikes and bikes into all of our trips. I gotta say itâ€™s a nice diversion from the drudgery of so much golf and gourmet, but weâ€™re up to the task. LOL And after much reading, chatting and fitting, I now have some Vasque boots for my dogs thanks to the good people at Summit Hut in Tucson (and thank you kind people at Sedonaâ€™s Canyon Outfitters, too); Terri needs to order hers (itâ€™s a big feet/sizing issue thing â€¦ shhhh, donâ€™t tell her I told). Pink Jeep Tours. Yes, the ultimate tourist pursuit, and we loved it. We dd the â€œRattlesnake Gulchâ€ excursion in Sedona. I used to four-wheel in the Mojave and this was by far the most rugged track Iâ€™ve ever seen. Sure, the views were nice, but what a ride!! I recall drinking a fair number of IPAs, and I know thereâ€™s other stuff Iâ€™m forgetting but I gotta quite screwing around and start writing. Adios.