Take a spring road trip south of the Border
I’m an unabashed fan of New Mexico golf. With deliciously warm springtime weather that beckons like a flirtatious Kokopelli piper, the time is ripe for a road trip to Santa Fe, located a mere five-hour drive south of Denver via I-25, and to Albuquerque, another hour down the road.
First stop is Black Mesa Golf Club (above). Situated on the Santa Clara Pueblo just north of Santa Fe, this 7,359-yard desert routing offers a wild and woolly mix of native arroyos, red sandstone ridges and amphitheater-like canyons, all brilliantly orchestrated by Baxter Spann. The public course is highlighted by pure-golf views and is ranked the fifth best course in the state by Golf Digest.
Another outstanding layout is just minutes away at Towa Golf Club, a 27-hole high desert challenge crafted by Hale Irwin and William Phillips. Framed by the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez mountains, Towa sports three nines—Piñon, Valley and Boulder—that roil dramatically through surreal rock formations and outcroppings. Ironically, CU alum Irwin designed all but the Boulder nine, which William Phillips authored in 2001.
Towa also features instruction by former PGA Tour player Jeff Mitchell, who won the 1980 Phoenix Open.
The course is a leading guest amenity of the magnificent Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder, which further pampers guests with the gourmet Red Sage restaurant, world-class Wo’ P’in Spa spa, fitness center, museum and a 61,000-square-foot casino.
Take at least a day to explore and experience Santa Fe, celebrated among the top travel destinations in the United States for its classic adobe architecture, top-ranked restaurants and storied art galleries. The City Different also brims with historic attractions like the Santa Fe Opera House, Loretto Chapel, Palace of the Governors, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Next on the tee is Twin Warriors Golf Club (above), a 7,736-yard beast ranked No. 3 on Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play in New Mexico. Located on the road to Albuquerque, just outside of Bernalillo on the Santa Ana Pueblo, this impressive Gary Panks design is a key attraction of the luxurious Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa. Player’s tip: Set aside time to also play 27-hole Santa Ana Golf Club, a superb Ken Killian design located just down the road from Twin Warriors.
You’ll find Albuquerque’s top stay-and-play offering on the north side of town at the Sandia Resort & Casino. Entering its second decade, the Sandia Pueblo-owned resort takes its name from the beautiful watermelon-colored Sandia Mountains that dominate the resort’s eastern views and continues to set the standard for luxury in Albuquerque.
The resort’s Sandia Golf Club boasts a challenging Scott Miller-designed layout, which stretches from 5,112 to 7,755 yards and this September will again sponsor and host the $85,000 New Mexico Open.
All 228 of Sandia’s lavishly decorated rooms and suites showcase views of the city skyline or the Sandias. Gaming options abound, Sandia’s Bien Shur restaurant claims five stars, and the resort’s 4,000-seat outdoor Amphitheater will present a rocking summer lineup featuring Train, Jason Mraz, Bush and the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
On May 28, Sandia will also kick off the 7th Annual ABQ Beer Week with the ABQ Blues & Brews festival, which features four blues bands and unlimited samples from more than 70 breweries.