The waning days of September mark a sweet-spot time for playing golf in New Mexico — when daytime temperatures are cooling the great outdoors, fall monsoons are nourishing high desert courses, and enticing events are luring visitors. For Coloradans looking to hold off winter a bit longer, it’s an ideal time for a road trip to America’s Land of Enchantment.
Santa Fe and Albuquerque are long-favored golf escapes. Via I-25, the historic cities are 5.5 and 6.5 hours south of Denver, respectively, which translates to quick and easy access to myriad recreational and cultural pleasures.
In Santa Fe, golfers are bee-lining to Black Mesa Golf Club, a Baxter Spann-designed public course ranked by Golf Digest among the state’s best. Also worth playing is 27-hole Towa Golf Club, a Hale Irwin/William Phillips creation that anchors Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino. And if you have special connections, reserve a tee time at ultra-exclusive The Club at Las Campanas, which offers 36 holes of sensational Jack Nicklaus Signature golf.
- Major Events & Distractions: Renowned Spanish Flamenco dancer Antonio Granjero and his Entreflamenco troupe perform at the all-new El Flamenco de Sante Fe performance venue (Sept. 21-Oct. 1); at the El Rancho de los Golondrinas Harvest Festival, enjoy crushing grapes by foot for wine, stringing chile ristras, noshing on fresh tortillas and touring a living history museum (Oct. 1-2); and the 8th Annual Santa Fe Independent Film Festival invites guests to celebrate the advancement of independent, innovative and cutting edge cinema (Oct. 19-23).
Golf in Albuquerque is a glorious affair on the strength of three highly rated properties: top-ranked Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club, a 27-hole Ken Dye masterpiece carved from the eastern foothills of the Sandia Mountains; Twin Warriors Golf Club, the impressive Gary Panks routing made even more memorable with overnights at the luxurious Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa; and multiple CAGGY award winner (Best Golf Experience—New Mexico) Sandia Golf Club, a Scott Miller design that has become a keynote amenity of Sandia Resort & Casino.
- Major Events & Distractions: The 28th Annual Rio Grand Arts & Crafts Festival at Sandia Resort & Casino is a kaleidoscope of 200-plus artists that ranges from painters to potters to jewelers (Sept. 30-Oct. 9); the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta marks its 44th year of elevating expectations with an brilliantly choreographed, 500-plus hot air balloon pilgrimage (Oct. 1-9); and the 24th Annual Dia de los Muertos Marigold Parade & Celebration rejoices life and honors those who have passed on by drawing on the satirical influence of artist Jose Guadalupe Posada. (Nov. 6).
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Chris Duthie is a Durango-based contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer. Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.