Category: New Mexico

November 06, 2012

Worth Your Money: Black Mesa Golf Club in New Mexico

Posted at 12:11 AM by Mike Walker

Tired of hearing about how great a golf trip to Pebble Beach or St. Andrews is? No kidding. These days we're looking for a golf trip that makes sense for our games and our budgets. So we've started a weekly feature on called "Worth Your Money" where Golf Magazine's travel editors find a destination that combines great golf and great value. This week, we check out Black Mesa Golf Club in New Mexico.


The 12th hole at Black Mesa Golf Club. John and Jeannine Henebry; 7,307; par 72. Greens fees: $62-$82

The wild sweep of the fairways is reminiscent of an Irish links. But the surrounding sandstone foothills serve as a reminder: you’re golfing in the high desert of New Mexico. That hybrid quality—an inland course that feels as raw and windswept as a seaside layout—is a large part of the charm of the Baxter Spann layout, which sits within a short shot of Santa Fe but feels as remote as Bandon Dunes.

From the first hole, an unapologetic par 4 that requires a blind tee shot over a grassy ridge, you’re struck by the layout’s natural lilt, as well as its peaceful sense of isolation. There are no houses, no hum from highway traffic. Even the cart paths are unpaved, a rustic touch on a course that is better suited to walking anyway.

From the top of the 16th, a mildly controversial par 5 that rushes up a steep slope to the most severely contoured green on the course, the views appear unending, a big sky spreading all around. You may or may not see another golfer.


Hotel Santa Fe. Comfortable, convenient accommodations in the heart of downtown Santa Fe. From $182,

The Inn and Spa at Loretto. AAA-Four-Diamond property that pays homage to the region’s Native American traditions, its rooms appointed in black, red, white and gold of Anasazi pottery. From $150,

The Bishop’s Lodge Ranch Resort & Spa. A relaxing retreat set on 450 acres at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, ringed by lawns and towering cottonwoods. Rooms from $172,


Black Mesa Steakhouse. Prime rib, seafood, polished service and a sprawling wine list. ‘Nuff said.

El Paragua. House-made tamales and tortillas highlight a menu of traditional Mexican and New Mexican cuisine. Gabriels. Sizzling fajitas, mesquite grilles scallops and guacamole, prepared table-side.

--From the editors of Golf Magazine

January 06, 2011

Ask Travelin' Joe: Bonita Springs, Fla., and Albuquerque

Posted at 1:30 PM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Dear Joe,
I'm going to Bonita Springs, Fla. in January. I'm having a real hard time finding public courses in the area. HELP! We are willing to drive a bit and would like to play for under $100 per round. We're looking to play three days.
Steve Radford
Via email

Poipu You're on the wrong coast of Florida if you're looking for public bargains. The Naples/Bonita Springs area is awash in terrific private tracks and a few pricey publics, such as Tiburon and Old Corkscrew, but there's not much depth where cheap, good golf is concerned. For value tracks in the region, start with Stoneybrook ($67.50-$105; 239-948-3933, in Estero, four miles north of Bonita Springs. Big hitters can bust it from the 7,314-yard tips, but nearly all of the spacious fairways are edged by lakes. Until January 15, play it after 1 pm for $52.

Tried and true in the bang-for-the-buck department is Eastwood Golf Course ($40-$60; 239-321-7487, in Ft. Myers. This tree-lined, Devlin/Von Hagge-designed, 33-year-old muni dishes out just 6,772 yards from the tips, but a fistful of doglegs, 87 bunkers and water on more than half the holes demand precision from every class of golfer.

Worth the drive is Riverwood Golf Club ($100; 941-764-6661,, a semi-private spread in Port Charlotte, an hour's drive north of Bonita Springs via I-75. This gorgeous Gene Bates design rolls through dense pines on the front and hopscotches salt marsh and wetlands on the back. It's a stern test from the 7,004-yard back markers, but a very playable treat from the next set at 6,472 yards. A perfect example of the beauty and flexibility is at the par-3 16th, completely isolated by marsh. It's a brutish 212 yards from all the way back, but a manageable 156 one set up.

Dear Joe,
Is the temperature acceptable in Albuquerque, New Mexico in mid-January for golf? If not, is there a location within a four-hour drive of Albuquerque that is?
Ed Douthett Jr.
Fairfax, Virginia

Bring a heavy sweater and some cart mitts and you're good to go. Yes, Albuquerque is a desert destination, but its 4,900 feet of elevation also elevates the "brrrrr" factor. Mid-January sports chilly daytime highs that average in the mid-40s. Fortunately, there's not much wind and there's an 88 percent chance of sunshine, so it's not unpleasant to play if you're dressed correctly. Driving four hours in any direction isn't going to help much, as near-equal altitude and/or a lack of quality golf will dissuade such a journey.

For the best winter values in Albuquerque, try the University of New Mexico's Championship course ($21-$51.70; 505-277-4546,, a rolling, high-desert delight where Phil Mickelson won the 1992 NCAA Championship and Sandia Golf Club ($35-$60; 505-798-3990,, a resort casino-affiliated layout that stretches 7,725 yards, yet has a slope of only 125, meaning there's plenty of room to play amid the handsome panoramas of the Sandia Mountains.

New & Notable
Does the Hawaiian golf course Poipu Bay ring a bell? This Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed seaside stunner on Kauai was an autumn television staple when it played host to the PGA's Grand Slam of Golf for 13 years. Tiger Woods captured the event seven times, including a five-peat from 1998-2002 and Phil Mickelson scorched its greens for a 59 in winning the 2004 tournament. Its last edition took place in 2007, but its glory days are hardly over. Some might say they're just getting started.

Poipu Bay shut down in the summer of 2010 for renovations, including some bunker and tee box work, but notably for the conversion of its inconsistent Bermuda greens to Paspalum Supreme. The latest and greatest wonder grass for tropical climates, Paspalum Supreme is saltwater tolerant and less dependent on chemicals. What that translates to for golfers is faster, truer greens.

Poipu Bay reopened Dec. 16 to accolades all around. Admittedly, Kauai, as with the rest of Hawaii, California and nearly everywhere else, experienced some wild late December weather, so final verdicts aren't in, but my man in the field reported that it was "in excellent shape…the greens were perfect."

What hasn't changed are the astounding final four holes, the first three set atop cliffs overlooking the Pacific, and the finale is a sterling risk/reward par-5. It's still a hike to get to Kauai, but with Poipu Bay better than ever, the incentive is that much stronger. $85-$240; 800-858-6300,

(Photo Courtesy of Poipu Bay Golf Course)

April 01, 2010

Ask Travelin' Joe: Alabama, New Mexico, Austin and Providence

Posted at 11:57 PM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Dear Joe,
Our group is having an argument about the destination for this year's trip. Some want to do Alabama (Grand National Lake/Links, Farmlinks, Oxmoor Valley and Limestone Springs) and others are thinking about New Mexico (Paa-Ko Ridge, Black Mesa, University of New Mexico Championship, Twin Warriors). We live in Chicago, so either destination is equally convenient. My opinion is the average quality of the courses in Alabama is higher, but Paa-ko and Black Mesa are spectacular. Any guidance?

Greg Roemelt
Chicago, Illinois

We're splitting hairs here, albeit blonde versus brunette. Do you like Cameron Diaz or Megan Fox? Point is, they're both stellar.

Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Trail is one of the greatest values in golf travel. So is New Mexico. However, I'm inclined to agree with you: The average quality of the courses in Alabama is higher, especially as you approach the second-tier courses, the ones ranked 6-15 in the market.

That said, nothing in Alabama packs the 1-2 punch of Paa-Ko Ridge and Black Mesa. Moreover, the best of the Alabama courses not only look similar to each other, but they also will look somewhat similar to your home courses, with wall-to-wall grass framed by trees. New Mexico's best are vividly memorable and completely different from anything in Chicagoland. Pass the salsa.

Dear Joe,
I have relied on your expertise for golf course guidance several times in the past. What would you recommend for a five-day trip to Austin, Texas? Our eight guys range from scratch golfers to a 22 handicap, with most of us in the low teens. We have traveled to many golf destinations, including Scotland and Ireland and are looking for some good golf in the Austin area this spring.

Michael F. Kaufman
Chicago, Illinois

For maximum variety and quality in the Austin area, it's impossible to top Barton Creek Resort & Spa (512-329-4000,; package rates from $181 per person per night). This Silver Medalist in our recent Premier Resorts awards boasts four courses spread out across different locations and terrain.

The Fazio Canyons course, ranked No. 67 in GOLF Magazine's 2008 Top 100 Courses You Can Play, is the strongest test of the four, but the resort's earlier Tom Fazio layout, Fazio Foothills, ranked No. 71 in 2008, contains the most distinctive hole, the par-5 closer which features a second shot over an abandoned limestone bat cave. For a great first round, and pure fun for the 22 handicapper, the (Ben) Crenshaw Cliffside course features a friendly 121 slope from the tips. The fourth course, called Palmer Lakeside (for its designer, Arnold Palmer) is dotted with quirky holes, but it's a quality shotmaking venue in its own right.

Worth the side trip is the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa (512-308-1234,; $120-$145), situated 20 minutes southeast of Austin. Its four-year-old Wolfdancer course is the handiwork of Chris Wilcynski of the Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest firm and sports three distinct playing landforms, from forested ridgelines to rolling prairie to a tree-studded valley. The Cliffside plunge at the par-3 12th is unforgettable.

Hi Joe,
I am taking my wife to a quilting show in Providence, RI in the middle of April. The show lasts for three or four days and I will be free to play golf while she is at the show. Thus my question: Do you know of any good/nice public or semi-private courses within a twenty-mile radius of downtown Providence that I would enjoy playing? I am 66 and carry a 15 handicap.

Frank Comer
Via email

Adjacent to downtown Providence is Triggs Memorial Golf Course (401-521-8460,; $40-$58), one of the nation's rare munis designed by the master, Donald Ross, back in 1932. Expect mediocre facilities and suspect conditions, but you'll also encounter a classic layout that opens and closes with Ross' specialty, tough par-4s with firm, fast, sloping greens.

Twenty-two miles south of Providence, in Middletown, is Newport National (401-848-9690,, the Ocean State's highest-ranked public course. Designed by Drew Rogers of the Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest firm in 2002, Newport National's Orchard/East course is magnificently groomed and a terrific challenge at a 138 slope from the 7,244-yard tips, not that you'll be playing it from back there. Best of all, it's only $65 to play there midweek, $75 weekend through May 6.

A word to the wise: Providence has been blasted with rain, 16.32 inches in March alone, and as of late March, flooding is widespread. Call ahead to check on current conditions before booking anything.

April 16, 2009

Ask Travelin Joe: Albuquerque and Gulf Shores, Alabama

Posted at 10:52 AM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Dear Joe,
My friends and I are taking our annual golf trip to Albuquerque and are overwhelmed by the number of great courses. We'll definitely play Paa-Ko Ridge, but can you recommend other "must-play" courses in the area?

Warren Dorn
Cincinnati, Ohio

You should certainly do battle with Twin Warriors ($89-$145; 505-771-6155,, a muscular Gary Panks design.

Beyond that, base your decision on convenience. If you're pretty good golfers who don't mind a healthy drive, then tackle the ravines and wild greens at Black Mesa ($62-$87; 505-747-8946,

If you're leery of the drive -- or the challenge -- Sandia Golf Club ($36-$85; 505-798-3990, is scenic, fun and a lot closer.

Continue reading "Ask Travelin Joe: Albuquerque and Gulf Shores, Alabama" »

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Our traveling correspondent has been where you're going. Heading out of town on vacation? Business trip? Travelin' Joe can suggest the best places for you to tee it up. If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at


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