South of Santa Fe and Albuquerque, a world of golf awaits
Sure, with current daytime temperatures hovering in the mid 90s, playing golf in southern New Mexico can hardly be considered enticing. Yet in a few short months—when much of Colorado is beset with frost delays and early-winter snow—high-desert destinations like Socorro, Roswell, Las Cruces and Hobbs will begin to take on greater and more resplendent appeal.
Leading the region’s better properties is Rockwind Community Links in Hobbs. Formerly known as Ocotillo Park, this Texas-border public facility recently completed a tee-to-green renovation to its 27-hole complex, including the 7,102-yard Championship Course that golf architect Andy Staples (designer of Utah’s top-ranked Sand Hollow in Hurricane, Utah) revamped into a classic-bent, visually stunning masterpiece. Open year round, the high-season greens fee is $30.
Nestled beneath majestic Sierra Blanca Peak in Mescalero, Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino is anchored by a high-altitude routing that is ranked the fourth best public course in the state by Golfweek magazine. The mountain-style, 7,212-yard Ted Robinson design is open through September when resort guests play the pine tree-forested fairways for $85 on weekends.
In nearby Ruidoso—world-famous for its $3 million All American Futurity quarter horse race held every Labor Day—is the highly regarded Links at Sierra Blanca. Crafted by Jim Colbert and Jeff Brauer, the 6,757-yard, Scottish links styled course offers immaculate conditioning and breathtaking views of the Sacramento Mountains. Greens fees are $80 through September, but the rates drop markedly in winter.
Despite its infamous celebrity for alleged UFO sightings, Roswell gets well-deserved kudos for nourishing future LPGA Tour legend Nancy Lopez as well as its historic and fetching Spring River Golf Course. Opened in 1930, the 6,522-yard municipal track is a budgeter’s blessing ($28 greens fee includes cart) and is a worthy consideration for any Southern New Mexico golf vacation.
If you’re headed for Carlsbad Caverns National Park at the state’s southern edge, plan an extended stopover in Las Cruces to play links-style Red Hawk Golf Club. Ken Dye crafted this sumptuous, 7,523-yard routing that has earned a top-10 “Best in State—2015” ranking from Golf Digest that costs $57 to play during high season, including cart. A second worthwhile option is Las Cruces Golf Club at Sonoma Ranch, a 7,028-yard Cal Olson design that offers $45 trail fees and indescribable views of the Organ Mountains.
In college town Socorro, golfers have two reasons to visit. The first is to test the highly challenging New Mexico Tech Golf Course, a 6,600-yard classically styled routing designed by James Voss ($33 green fees). The second is the Elfego Baca Shootout, a one-hole, skin-scraping golf tournament played since 1960 from Socorro Peak’s 7,243-foot summit to a flagstick on the NMT campus three miles away. The $125 entry fee includes spotters, scorekeepers and emergency medical services.
Chris Duthie is a contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer, the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com.