Black Mesa and UNM Championship are Must Plays

New Mexico Courses Among the Best in the Southwest

Few subjects are more natural or downright compelling than New Mexico golf destinations.

Last month this column reviewed two superb public golf courses in New Mexico—Paa-Ko Ridge just outside Albuquerque, and Twin Warriors in Bernalillo. This week we’re examining two more must-plays in the Land of Enchantment: Black Mesa in Española and the University of New Mexico’s Championship Course in Albuquerque.

Black Mesa Golf Club; (505) 747-8946

Black Mesa—touted as one of the best minimalism layouts in America—is located 30 minutes north of Sante Fe among some of the wildest, crankiest and most perfect-for-golf landscape in the Desert Southwest. Credit architect Baxter Spann for this free-form, pure-golf creation that slips and sidewinds among native arroyos, red rock ridges and amphitheater-like canyons.

Big bonus: The 7,300-yard track plays at an elevation of 5,400 feet and offers nearly no views of civilization. No housing, low-flying jet planes, shopping malls, casinos or traffic-snarled highways. Just open skies, blind tee shots, cavernous bunkering, generous bentgrass fairways, multi-tiered greensites, unpaved cart paths and a panoramic, smile-inducing routing that feels as raw, isolated and windswept as any Irish links.

University of New Mexico (Championship Course); (505) 277-4546

Since its opening in 1967, only a select handful of New Mexico golf courses have approached the classic styling and shot-making excellence of UNM’s storied Championship Course. That it has commanded such prestige and attention for nearly 50 years speaks volumes for Albuquerque’s timeless masterpiece.

Tiger Woods won his first collegiate golf tournament here, shooting 65 for Stanford on a 7,562-yard layout that has hosted three NCAA men’s championships and a pair of Division One women’s championships. Phil Mickelson once held the course record, but Tour player and former New Mexico Lobo Tim Herron now owns that distinction with a head-turning 61.

Avid golfers will feel lucky to maintain par on this hilly, risk-reward layout detailed with sloping, elevated greensites and cantankerous bunkering. As with most courses fashioned by architect Red Lawrence, bring your A-game to UNM.


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Durango resident Chris Duthie is a contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer, the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via