During the summer of the crazy year of 2020, the front nine was closed for a while. Some renovations were done and one or two cart paths were extended. When the front nine was re-opened, the back nine was closed for a while. When that was re-opened, the nines had been switched. That is, the orignal no.1 was changed to no. 10 and the original no. 10 became no. 1. This flies in the face of over 90 years of history. The original clubhouse was situated where the El Rio Neighborhood Center is now, on the east end of the course on the Speedway side, so the first tee was right there. That was the no. 1 tee from the time the course opened in 1929 until the late summer of 2020 when it was changed. Ben Hogan teed it up on that original first tee, as did Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer and all those great players.
Why were the nines changed?
According to Robb Palmgren, General Manager of Tucson City Golf:
"We understand the historical value of El Rio Golf Course and certainly do not want to do anything to tarnish that rich history. Our decision to swap the nines was purely operational. Before we made the decision to implement this change we tested it on several occasions. By swapping the nines, it has dramatically improved our pace of play on a daily basis. Our rounds of golf and revenue have both increased. Customer satisfaction numbers are up and we rarely receive pace of play complaints anymore. There was a lot of thought, money and time invested into this decision. This is not a permanent move and it can be switched back to the way the course was historically designed. Respectfully, in the interest of the satisfaction of our guests and financial performance of the golf course, moving forward we plan on keeping the layout as is."
These claims of improving pace of play, etc., could be disputed. In this new configuration, the first tee is much further from the clubhouse and the 10th tee is much further from the 9th green. Logistically, it makes no sense.
The most important consideration, as far as this web site is concerned, is the drastic change to this very historic golf course. History matters!