Course Review: Black Mesa Golf Club
28 Jun 2011
by Mike Stubbs of AmateurGolf.com

see also: Black Mesa Golf Club, All Course Reviews


Great golf courses are hard to come by. I don’t mean that there aren’t that many— there are. The problem is that most of the truly great ones are either private or cost prohibitive. On a recent trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, I played Black Mesa Golf Club, which is neither private nor expensive. Calling it great only scratches the surface of what this marvelous collection of 18 holes is all about. 

Although the course is carved among the sandstone ridges of the Santa Clara Pueblo, Black Mesa has more than hint of old world Irish feel to the grounds. Take any great links course and Photoshop out all the heather and green that surrounds each hole and replace it with jagged arroyos filled with soft sand and creosote bushes and you have Black Mesa. There are mounds, bumps and blind shots—just like in Ireland—which will, no doubt, drive every level of player mad. But you are quickly overcome with pleasure when you stand on each tee and admire the beauty of a course that follows the natural terrain so perfectly that you’ll wonder if dinosaurs roamed on the same Kentucky bluegrass that appears to drip off the sandstone formations. 

Memorable Holes 
On the first hole out of the gate, the course architect Baxter Spann perplexes the golfer with a blind shot over a ridge that may have been there for a million years. Rather than a heavy-handed use of bulldozers, Spann left the ancient ridge in place and starts the loop with a mental challenge. Your eyes say go left where you can see a glimmer of fairway, but the notes say hit it over the native ridge. The hole is not that tough—assuming you can overcome the fear of the unknown and blast it to the right.

The par-four seventh is a drivable hole that looks out over the vast expanse of the Santa Clara Pueblo. Options abound off the tee, but they must be played with precision as the fairway is protected by native areas both left and right as well as by a cross bunker about 180 yards from the tee. Although it is a short hole, the multi-tiered green offers tremendous protection against par. The seventh looks easy on the card, but it is very tricky.

Some holes you just love to play in your head over and over again. For me, the par- four 14th is just one of those holes. Like the devilish first, it is very deceiving off the tee. Your eyes wander left in a straight line to the green, but the play is to the right over yet another native ridge. If you hit it hard it enough, the ball will wind up just in front of the green; if you elect to take a more direct line you will be left with a poor view of the approach to the green. If you take the direct line and fail to fly it 300 yards (like I did —twice), you will find yourself in the native area or in one the many bunkers that protect the left side. The 14th is wildly fun…just aim right off the tee! 

Head pro Tom Velarde calls the demanding par-five 16th “stairway to seven.” There are many ways to make that number and more if you are not careful. It is a dramatic hole that looks as if it were a glacier of green snow permanently fixed among the sandstone formations. It is long and, when played in the left-to-right crosswind, very difficult. The tee shot from the elevated back tee demands a well struck drive to a steeply inclined fairway. Once on the green, two putts are certainly not guaranteed. The surface has huge undulations and it falls off severely to the back.  

Black Mesa may well be the premier course in entire state of New Mexico. Whether you are traveling with your buddies on a golf/gambling trip or there for a romantic weekend in Santa Fe, this course needs to be on the itinerary

Go to w ww.blackmesagolfclub.com/for information and rates

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