Naco Golf Course Encourages International Links
By Anissa Tanweer, University of Arizona
Turquoise Valley Golf course in Naco, Arizona might pop up on a trivia quiz for a couple reasons. For one thing, it’s the oldest continuously operating golf course in all of Arizona. Established in 1908, it’s actually older than the state itself by about four years. Turquoise Valley also boasts the only par six hole in the state, the seven hundred forty-seven yard “Rattler.”
But while the course offers challenges for even the most accomplished golfers, what really makes this place special is its efforts to whittle away at golf’s reputation of exclusivity.
If the Rodney Dangerfield character from Caddy Shack owned a golf course, it just might look like Turquoise Valley,” says Pete Campbell, Turquoise Valley’s general manager. “Golf need not be elitist. It need not be a cost consideration to play golf. It can be affordable to the masses.” So the golf course offers special rates for families, and occasionally even opens up its driving range for free.
Turquoise Valley’s open arms extend not just across social boundaries, but also across the physical border that separates the U.S. and Mexico. The golf course sits just a quarter mile north of that border – in golf distance, that’s about “one wood and a wedge,” as Campbell likes to say.
Turquoise valley has a very special and cooperative relationship with the golf course in Cananea, Mexico, located about 40 miles to the south.
“Sometimes it’s difficult for them to order golf course supplies across the border and have it shipped to their location in Mexico,” says Campbell. “So a number of times they’ll order something on our account, have it shipped here, come pick it up, take it across the border – in legal amounts.”
The two golf courses also hold friendship tournaments between them. “Somebody came up with the idea there should be one trophy that should go back and forth,” says Francisco Velasco, a board member of Cananea Golf Course. “So they’ve had it for a couple years, and then we have it, and then they take it back, and then we bring it home.”
And their friendship was cemented a few years ago when Cananea golfers found themselves without a course to play on.
The town of Cananea revolves around the largest copper mine in Mexico. When labor disputes at the mine led to a strike in 2007, life ground to a halt. And the golf course, which is owned by the mining company, shut down.
But Turquoise Valley came to the rescue. “They had no jobs, the mines were closed, they had no golf course. They had to come here to play golf,” says Campbell. “So given the expenditures in gas and time to come here . . . in the international spirit of golf, we did allow a discounted rate for Cananea golfers.”
“We were so very welcomed by them,” says Velasco. “That’s a very special relationship. We hold them in very high esteem.”
Proving that borders don’t have to keep neighbors apart.