Standing on the first tee, you find yourself surrounded by the Jemez Mountains to the west, the Sangre de Christos to the north, and the Sandia Mountains loom to the east – welcome to The Land of Enchantment. As Steve and I started our round on the Star Course, it felt more like The Land of Bewitchment.
We both found the fairway with our first shots of the day at Hole #1, but was it really the first hole? Our cart GPS indicated it was Hole #3 and there were also two golfers on the green at this dogleg right , par 4 opening hole. We had not seen this twosome ahead of us, so we wandered back to the tee box to make sure we had actually started on the correct course (there are three 9-hole courses). strange beginning but we were on the correct course and hole – just two confused brothers and old men!
Depending on the direction of your tee shot on the par 4 second hole, there are fairway bunkers that could cause you issues. The scorecard shows the bunkers on the left side of the fairway, my notes indicate they are to the right (I definitely need help). I must have taken the wrong route to my bogey! We finally arrived at the correct Hole #3 and it was not kind to either one of our sliced tee shots. The beautiful native New Mexico shrubs eagerly accepted both of our balls. Neither of our shots were found but Steve did find a number of other stray balls and did not encounter any rattlesnakes during his hunt – he considered this a successful hole. If you are lucky enough to place your tee shot in the fairway, just be careful of all the small, round bunkers on your approach shot to the green.
Hole #4 brought us to the first par 3 of the day. At 147 yards (white), it should not play very difficult. The green is surrounded by “grass bunkers” (Steve’s term) and we found most of them. Hole #5 is the number two handicap and an outstanding risk/reward hole at 286 yards. Looking at the the green today, I was mesmerized by the beautiful New Mexico sky and the photo opportunity. That being captured, do I now take the safe drive to the left or risk the straight shot over the bunkers? Being “wild and crazy guys”, we both opted for the straight shot which meant slices to the right for both of us. Mine missed the bunkers, but did find short grass; Steve decided to visit the chamisa (far right) and look for more lost balls and rattlesnakes. One big obstacle we did not see was the sizable pond that is situated behind the bunkers and before the green (it is hidden from view at the tee box). My second shot cleared this and found the green; Steve’s did not…but he did find more balls over in the vegetation.
Hole #6 is a par 5 of 519 yards with sand trouble all along the left side. The mounding to the right is not much fun either. And if the pin is tucked way left, as it was today, good luck on the number one handicap hole. The only hazards on the par 4 seventh hole are the chamisa in front of the tee box (find your ball yet Steve?); the chamisa down the entire right side of the fairway; and the bunker to the right of the green. Another nice hole if you find the short stuff.
At Hole #8 there is a great view of Sandia Mountain. Your shot at this 119 yard par 3 needs to carry water and find the correct level on this multi-tiered green (mine did not) or you can kiss your birdie goodbye. Hole #9 is a “big boy” par 5 finishing hole of 469 yards. It’s not long but there is plenty of New Mexico vegetation to avoid. My second shot came within 2″ of an eagle; Steve was again trying to increase his ball supply over in the right rough. I think he came out well ahead today!
Ace: Santa Ana Golf Club is a gem. A 27-hole facility comprising the Star, Tamaya, and Cheena nines. Before your 9, 18, or 27 hole day, stop for the breakfast burrito at the Wind Dancer Bar & Grill. After the round, you can enjoy fine dining at Prairie Star Restaurant & Wine Bar before you head over to the Santa Ana Star Casino. Not a golfer? There is an 18-hole Footgolf course for all you soccer enthusiasts. Looking for another 18-hole gem on the Pueblo? Just down the road is the outstanding Twin Warriors Golf Club. I would recommend a two day stay to play both these beauties. Santa Ana Pueblo is an easy exit off I-25 just north of Albuquerque.
288 Prairie Star Rd., Santa Ana Pueblo, NM 87004; 505-867-9464; www.mynewmexicogolf.com