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Sprawling mountain views surrounded Barry and myself as soon as we departed Albuquerque airport for a week-long golf vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The closest we had been to seeing vistas like this was when we travelled through Red Rock Canyon in Nevada over fifteen years ago, as a side trip to Las Vegas.
The thin air first caught my attention as I climbed the stairs to our 'casita' in the newly opened Encantado Resort, a member of the Auberge family of upscale properties. The 'room' in which we stayed had the same effect as the altitude. Approximately seven-hundred square feet of comfort and cool Santa Fe style surrounded our senses, from the wood-burning fireplace to the original artwork on the walls, all welcoming us to take off our shoes and relax awhile. From the casita, we toured the Resort only to find the same upscale luxury throughout, from the Spa to the Lodge, with incomparable views and luxurious amenities.
During the week we were slated to play both Black Mesa and Paa-ko Ridge Golf Courses. An early snowfall closed Paa-ko Ridge to golfers (there were still a few stragglers in the dining room praying for a miracle) so we were a bit disappointed not to be able to play one of GolfDigest.com's Reader's choice awards for 2009.
Instead, we had two prime days of golf at Black Mesa Golf Club, and I'm glad we did as once just wasn't enough in order to appreciate the creative masterpiece of Baxter Spann. "Each hole could have easily been a signature hole," Barry mentioned, and that a comprehensive strategy is needed for each dramatic layout. Success at putting is a must: tricky greens and undulating fairways force you to decide where you want to place the ball.
Black Mesa is definitely not for beginners but the option of five different teeboxes allows a golfer to visualize the course from different angles making it worthy of several rounds of play. Stand at the tips, bring a camera and enjoy views of the Rio Grande!
I wanted a true Santa Fe experience and found one while dining at a charming, ninety-year-old retreat; Bishop's Lodge. The food was superb and the staff gave us a tour of the property which includes a spa, skeet/trap range and, I understand, a stable filled with Palominos. Only about five minutes to town, I would certainly consider this Resort for our next stay!
During our vacation we did everything from making our contribution to the newest Casino complex, Buffalo Thunder, to watching buffalo roam and tumbleweeds roll, all while being surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo mountains. We played golf at a course that you can never tire of and I even got an on-course lesson from Tom Velarde, Director of Instruction at Black Mesa. Brian Whitcomb, PGA of America President also agrees as he recently stated, "The truth is that golf in New Mexico is a gem." The 42nd PGA Professional National Championship is set to take place at Twin Warriors and Santa Ana Golf Clubs and will be televised by the Golf Channel.
New Mexico is unique destination that travelers should see at least once in their lives. I now understand why it is called the Land of Enchantment!
This week's Golf for Beginners show talks about why you should visit Santa Fe, NM at least once and offers tips from our rounds as well as from Black Mesa's Director of Instruction Tom Velarde. We also have plenty of pictures to show of Black Mesa ... click here for front nine and back nine and of our trip. Enjoy!
Note: If you cannot see the photos, just head over to the MySpace page below and locate 'pics' under my lead picture.
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