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New Mexico

New Mexico

The Land of Enchantment, New Mexico is comprised of a wide variety of rich desert terrains, most of the state being public or tribal land, preserving its natural beauty. Albuquerque is by far the largest population center, with the most diverse terrain, and offers the most courses. Our journey starts a bit further south, though, in Las Cruces, in the southern part of the state. Located at the convergence of I-10 and I-25, Las Cruces is an important junction connecting the southwest with the Midwest and Rocky Mountains.

The steep, towering majestic Organ Mountains are the eastern backdrop to Las Cruces. Throughout the day, their color and shadows change the very shape and texture of the mountains as the sun moves across the horizon. New Mexico State University’s 18-hole par-72 course receives a 74.1, its slope rating at 133 on Bermuda grass. A Floyd Farley design which first opened in 1962, the NMSU Golf Course has hosted 3 NCAA National Championships.

The Sonoma Ranch Golf Club, also a public course, can provide an option while in Las Cruces. The Las Cruces Country Club and Picacho Hills are private courses. Las Cruces is growing very rapidly, so one can expect to find more courses opening with regularity in the region.

Moving on up to Albuquerque, we find several courses, both public and private. Worthy of special mention are the Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club, within the Sandia Casino Resort, which earned #29 in the top 100 courses in the nation, Desert Greens, a privately owned public course which vies with Paa-Ko Ridge for first position within the state, and the 18-hole "South" course at the Championship Golf Course At University of New Mexico facility. The Paa-Ko Ridge is a 18-hole 7,562 yard par 72 course with a rating of 75.2 and a slope rating of 138. A Kenneth Dye, Jr. design, this magnificent course opened in 2000 and has deserved the honors laid upon it since then. Desert Greens hosted the 2006 Sun Country Pub links championship as well as the the 2006 USGA United States Pub links qualifier. Well liked, and with a healthy reputation, it comes in #2 in the state. Desert Greens is currently 6,808 yards, but expansion is under way. When finished, the newly added tees will allow over 7,000 yards of tournament play.

The South course at the UNM extends 7,248 yards from the longest tees for a par of 72. The course rating is 74.3 and its slope rating of 134 is made on Blue grass. A 1967 Red Lawrence design, its quality, convenient location and reasonable rates make it a perennial favorite.

Twin Warriors also deserves a brief note here. Though Bernalillo is a ways outside of Albuquerque, this course merits #12 in the state and #69 in the nation. At 6,485 yards, it still acquires a par of 72. This 2001 Gary Panks design keeps worthy players on their toes. Of course, since Albuquerque is the central focus of New Mexico, there are several other worthy courses in the greater metropolitan area.

No visit to the Land of Enchantment would be complete without a visit to Santa Fe, and who would want to miss a chance to play a Jack Nicklaus signature course, let alone two of them? Sunrise opened in 1993, and Sunset joined it, opening with the new millenium. With five elevated tee sets, you’re certain to be able to enjoy the challenges. A bit of a departure from the usual Nicklaus style, a "gentler approach" and a respect for the land prevail at this stunningly beautiful setting. Just under 7000 feet in elevation, you’ll find it comfortable in three seasons. The residential development centers on golf but offers an equestrian center and spa as well. Nicklaus comments about this course, saying "I’m very enthusiastic about my concepts here. It’s going to be an unbelievably un golfing experience for every player. I think we’re creating something so different and so unique that I might ike to play it every day of the year." That’s a pretty strong affirmation!

At first glance, New Mexico may not have seemed like much of a destination. Word has gotten out, and the state is growing by leaps and bounds. People are discovering the wonders of the Land of Enchantment. Perhaps it’s time you became one of them.