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Ritz-Carlton does it again...this time at Dove Mountain
 Golf Course Review - Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain

By Philip Sokol - Director of Operations

Marana, AZ (Sports Network) - When previously thinking of Tucson, Arizona, the only thing that readily came to mind was "Get Back" the great song by The Beatles in which Paul McCartney references that "Jo Jo left his home in Tucson, Arizona."

That, however, was before I had the great pleasure of traveling to Tucson, en route to Marana, home of the WGC - Match Play Championship, just northwest of "Old Pueblo."

Now, I'll associate the region not with The Beatles but with the Ritz-Carlton's Dove Mountain Resort.


The lobby area of the Ritz-Carlton's Dove Mountain Resort.
The Ritz-Carlton tradition is legendary, of course, and that high standing continues here in the southwest.

Eleven months after the sensational Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course opened, The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain Resort was christened in the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains.

The luxurious resort features a rich, regional flair complete with luscious views of the unique topography of the Arizona desert.

But the beauty of the resort is just a small part of what's in store for guests.

Attention to detail is what always gets me when visiting a Ritz-Carlton property, and it starts when you get out of your car and they welcome you by name. I know that's common practice for the rich and famous, but for a regular guy like me, it's unique and appreciated.

"It is about providing an experience that creates memories that last a lifetime through refined, personalized service and attention to detail," resort general manager Allan Federer said of the site's treatment of guests.


A view of the second and third holes at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.
This treatment continues with the accommodations that while not ostentatious, are tastefully designed in a motif fit for a king, and artfully crafted in a southwestern flair. Dove Mountain features over 250 guest rooms and suites, perfect for the vacationing couple or the entire gang.

It certainly doesn't stop there.

Let's continue with the activities, as there are plenty. My forte is golf, and the 27-hole facility is as good as advertised. Nicklaus outdid himself, carving out a world-class tract that has attracted the finest players on the planet.

It's a massive layout, stretching over 7,800 yards on the tournament nines of Saguaro and Tortolita, but the designer has built in plenty of choices. "We've given you enough variety that you can play it at a different length if you want to," mentioned Nicklaus. "We've given you some options, such as the 15th hole where you've got a drivable par-4 or you can play the tee back, and then the player has to think about whether they want to try to drive it or not. I like variety within the golf course. I think it turned out spectacular." Understatement of the year.

By the way, if you need a bite while traversing the desert and saguaro (that's "cactus," for the novice), then just ask the cart girl to wrangle up a couple of Sonoran hot dogs. Trust me...out of this world.


The serenity pool at the Ritz-Carlton spa.
Another activity that's often overlooked is hiking. What, hiking? You bet. With over twenty miles of desert hiking in Wild Burro Canyon and throughout the Tortolita Mountains, Dove Mountain offers many options in that regard. From the simplest of journeys to a nine-mile trek near the top of the western and eastern ridges of the Canyon, you'll certainly be tested. The rise-and- shine sunshine stretch-and-stroll is not to be missed, so I'm told. I was too chicken!

Following a day of activity, the 17,000 square-foot Ritz-Carlton spa is the place to be. An oasis in the desert, this peaceful haven rivals any destination spot in the United States. This spiritual retreat features the five R's: Restore, Renew, Refresh, Rejuvenate and Revive. Believe me when I tell you, it really hit home. Picture this...The sun is setting with no clouds in the sky and a slight breeze is splashing your face. After a soak in the serenity pool, grab a libation and recharge your batteries while lying down on the spa day beds under a cabana. That my friend, is heavenly.

It's off to dinner at the CORE Kitchen & Wine Bar. Artist-chef Joel Harrington's menu is as wild and creative as his hairstyle (Mohawk). Buffalo tenderloin, chipotle-spiked sweet potato bisque and basil/olive oil-poached lobster salad, all created with indigenous local ingredients. With over 2,800 bottles of wine, finding the right accompaniment might be as challenging as the golf.


An exterior night-time view of the Dove Mountain Resort.
Top off your day with the Club Lounge on the fourth floor for a nightcap with your circle of friends, and you've hit the mother lode.

And get this...that's just day one.

The staff at a Ritz-Carlton is unparalleled, and this tradition continues at Dove Mountain. Courteous beyond belief, knowledgeable about resort amenities and an exuberance that eases the mind and soul.

You never know who you might meet at Ritz-Carlton. This time around at Dove Mountain, it was Joan Lunden. Yes, the former Good Morning America co-host has introduced her Camp Reveille - a summer program for women to re-energize their lives out west - at the facility.

There certainly are plenty more options, but you'll have to decide those for yourself.

In much the same way that Sir Paul belted out the line atop the old Apple recording studios back in 1969, I can't wait to "Get Back."