Tucson Historic Sports Venues and Artifacts: 60 years of the Tucson Open

(Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson Photos)

60 years of the Tucson Open: El Rio, 49er and Tucson National Catalina Course.

The El Rio Course hosted the Tucson Open from 1945 to 1962 and the 49er Golf Club hosted from 1963 to 1964. The Tucson Open was dropped for one year in 1954 by the PGA in favor of one in Laredo but, thanks to the work of Ricki Rarick, the PGA brought the Tucson Open back the next year.

Ray Mangrum won the first Open in 1945 and he collected $1,333.33 in War Bonds and Bryon Nelson won $933.33 for taking second place. Bob Charles of New Zealand collected $6,800 after he won the first Tucson Open held at the National Golf Club Catalina Course in 1965 and the tournament was played from then until 2006 on the same course on what would eventually be called the Omni Tucson National.

Arnold Palmer won in 1967, Lee Trevino won in 1969 and 1970, JC Sneed in 1971, Johnny Miller in 1974, 1975 and 1976, Tom Watson in 1978, Phil Mickelson in 1995 and 1996 and Kirk Triplett won the last one held on the Catalina Course in 2006 and he took home $540,000.

The WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship came to The Gallery Golf Club in 2007 and that meant an end to an era that saw the likes of Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Joe Garagiola entertaining the gallery.



Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019, became a member of the Sunnyside Los Mezquites Cross Country Hall of Fame in 2021 and he was a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee and he earned a Distinguished Service Award from Amphitheater. Contact Andy Morales at amoralesmytucson@yahoo.com

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