The ‘ka-ching’ of cash registers and golfers hollering ‘Fore’ made last week’s opening of the Sewailo Golf Course outside Tucson a resounding success.
Sewailo (Flower World in the Yaqui language) is an 18-hole, par 72 course that measures 7,400 yards from the championship tees (with five tee boxes on each hole to accommodate players of all abilities). According to Sewailo’s general manager, Dan LaRouere, "The $28-million course will employ up to 90 workers, many of them tribal members.”
Notah Begay III, who designed Arizona’s Pascua Yaqui tribe’s course, said that Sewailo “will revolutionize golf in this part of the country as one of the top courses in Arizona. The course design, from routing of the holes to landscape architecture, will put us in strong consideration for a top ranking.”
Begay won four PGA tourneys, became a businessman and a philanthropist before morphing into his day job as a commentator for NBC's golfing events. He is also president of NB3 Consulting, the group that designed Segwailo.
Begay walked what was once a desert before conceptualizing a layout for the course – it’s the third course he has designed.
“These projects start from the standpoint of culture and it’s important we maintain a respect for culture and tradition in the communities in which we work,” Begay said. “I asked for guidance from our Creator as we shaped this course.”
During the official ribbon-cutting ceremony, a parade of speakers, many of them members of the tribal council, took turns at the podium to praise those who helped make it happen.
“We’ve gone from predictions that ‘you can’t do anything with this barren land’ to what we’ve already built – and we’re not going to stop here,” said Chairman Peter Yucupiccio.
Ty Butler collaborated with Begay on the course design and told the opening day crowd of some 300 attendees, “Vision and leadership from the tribe gave Notah and I a path to walk down, and as a result, we have a world-class golf course that will make an impact, not only in Southern Arizona, but nationally.”
Before hitting the ceremonial first tee shot, Begay said, “When I first came here, there was a lot of uncertainty about what a world-class golf outlet might do for the community, how it might stimulate economic growth. Times got tough between groundbreaking on 12-12-12 and ribbon-cutting a year later, but this is a true collaboration. True in the sense that when times got tough, nobody ran. We stayed together and worked through it because we believed in the worth of the outcome.”
“I’ve seen the best courses in the country. I’ve played the best courses. And things don’t get any better than what you’ll find at Sewailo.”