Editor’s note: This summer, Star columnist Greg Hansen is counting down the top 10 of just about everything related to Tucson sports.
Today’s list: the top 10 golf moments in Tucson history.
San Diego amateur golf champion Dell Urich drove a Model T across the desert looking for work in 1931. He found it in Tucson, of all places.
Here’s what Urich found when hired at what is now Randolph North golf course:
“The greens were a mix of oil and sand with a base of cottonseeds,” he told the Star in 1961. “The course was in the country; we had trouble keeping cows off the greens; they’d break through the fences to eat the cottonseeds.”
By 1955, with grass replacing oil, sand and cottonseed, golf at Randolph thrived. It wasn’t unusual for more than 1,000 rounds to be played from Friday through Sunday. Getting a tee time between 6:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. required advance planning and luck.
On average, more than 75,000 rounds of golf were played each year at Randolph. Now it’s fortunate to get 30,000.
The city decided that adding a second course, Randolph South, would feed the growing golf hunger in Southern Arizona. By January 1961 the Randolph golf complex had 36 holes, a new clubhouse and driving range. How’d it go?
In 1995, Golf Digest wrote that the Randolph golf courses were the second-busiest in America, with about 200,000 rounds of golf per year. Only San Diego’s Torrey Pines hosted more golfers.
Urich became an institution in Tucson golf. In the late 1990s, when Randolph South was remodeled — it was beautifully reshaped as a flood control property — it was named the Dell Urich Golf Course.
I think the expansion of Randolph from 18 to 36 holes in 1961 was the top golf moment in Tucson history. It had a significant impact on the Tucson golf industry for four decades, until the game entered a recession period that continues now.
Here’s my list: