Tucson golf courses like Crooked Tree facing an uncertain future

By Greg Hansen | Arizona Daily Star

Rich Mueller was a golf instructor at the Catalina Family Golf Center 25 years go, one of four standalone Tucson driving ranges that were so busy they often had waiting lines to get an available space.

Hitting a bucket of old golf balls used to be a high form of American entertainment, fully different from the costly, tech-inspired, beer-served-cold TopGolf operations that now pass for a driving range.

But in 1995, driving ranges thrived.

That was when the Kevin Coster movie “Tin Cup” was being filmed in Tubac, Sonoita and at Jack Nicklaus’ trendy La Paloma Golf Course. One day, producers from Tin Cup showed up at Mueller’s East Golf Links Road driving range and inquired about the “picker,” the caged vehicle that retrieves thousands of golf balls each day.


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