Year-old Sandia Golf Club sits on the grounds of one of the Southwest's largest tribal casinos. The architect, Scott Miller, is the former Nicklaus designer who created Arizona's rollicking We-Ko-Pa and Idaho's Coeur d'Alene Resort (famous for its floating island green), so he understands that golf should be fun. The back tees are a whopping 7,772 yards, yet the slope is a measly 125. How can this be?Simple. The course is long, just not very hard. The landing areas are generous, and the green surrounds are soft and friendly. Particularly enjoyable are the par-four tenth, which plays toward the Sandia Mountains, and the split-fairway par-four sixth. But you'll likely return just because the whole place left you grinning, thanks in part to the homemade green- and red-chile burritos ordered from the beverage cart.
30 Rainbow Road, Albuquerque; 505-798-3990, sandiagolf.com. YARDAGE: 7,772.PAR: 72. SLOPE: 125. ARCHITECT: Scott Miller, 2005. GREENS FEES: $65–$75.
Twin Warriors ****
Even from the oddly named "back" tees (which are actually third from the back), this Santa Ana Pueblo tribal-land course stretches to 6,914 yards. Twin Warriors Golf Club, named after a pair of mythical Pueblo leaders, is hewn from a muscular landscape and routed around twenty ancient cultural sites. Yet, knowing most of the play would come from the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa next door, architect Gary Panks graded the fairways and greens to minimize awkward shots. You may still lose a few balls in the dense brush that edges nearly every hole, or in one of the many arroyos that crisscross the property, but you'll gain your share of memories. The semiblind, semibrutal par-four tenth is bisected by a canyon, while the 244-yard par-three fifteenth plays alongside the sacred Snakehead Butte.
1301 Tuyuna Trail, Santa Ana Pueblo; 505-771-6155, twinwarriorsgolf.com. YARDAGE: 7,736.PAR: 72. SLOPE: 130. ARCHITECT: Gary Panks, 2001. GREENS FEES: $60–$145.
University of New Mexico ***1/2
Phil Mickelson captured the 1992 NCAA Championship here at one of the nation's standout collegiate courses. The layout makes a strong first impression, offering a view of downtown Albuquerque from the ridgetop first tee. The balance of the course unfolds over heaving terrain that effectively narrows the playable areas, as shots spinning the wrong way scurry into the sagebrush. Architect Red Lawrence is best known for his back-to-nature design at Arizona's Desert Forest, and here, too, he listened to the land. It's big, rugged country, with vast and sloping greens. The course is also close to the airport, so if you want to play right after you land or right before you take off, this is the spot.
3601 University Boulevard, SE, Albuquerque; 505-277-4546, golobos.collegesports.com/facilities/nm-facilities.html. YARDAGE: 7,272. PAR: 72. SLOPE: 133. ARCHITECT: Red Lawrence, 1966. GREENS FEES: $57–$67.
BEST OF THE REST
Santa Ana Golf Club ($21–$55, 505-867-9464), a frequent Nationwide Tour stop, is less than a mile from Twin Warriors but a world away in drama—flatter and far tamer. Just south of the Albuquerque airport, the linksy Isleta Eagle Golf Course ($38–$50, 505-869-0950) enjoys an enviable location and some expansive views of the Rio Grande. Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe ($31–$63, 505-955-4400) is just the type of muni every city should have. Handsome views of the Sangre de Christo, Jemez, Sandia and Ortiz mountains ease the sting of a closing bogey at the downhill 485-yard par-four eighteenth. At Towa Golf Resort ($49, 505-455-9000) in Pojoaque, fifteen minutes north of Santa Fe, you'll find the state's only island green. Now twenty-seven holes (including nine designed by Hale Irwin), the resort is building a fourth nine.
WHERE TO STAY
The Bishop's Lodge Resort & Spa A five-minute shuttle
from the Plaza, this rustic retreat is awash in Santa Fe
history. In the 1850s the property belonged to Jean
Baptiste Lamy, the city's first archbishop, who was later
immortalized in Willa Cather's novel Death Comes for the
Archbishop. Guests stay in adobe lodges.
1297 Bishop's Lodge Road, Santa Fe; 505-983-6377, bishopslodge.com. ROOMS: $189–$329. SUITES: $279–$499.
Eldorado Hotel & Spa Without question, this is Santa
Fe's finest all-purpose hotel. Designed in pueblo-revival
style, it's large enough to accommodate groups but cozy
enough for couples, thanks to touches such as small kiva
fireplaces in the rooms. The hotel is just two blocks from
the Plaza and across the street from the Georgia O' Keeffe
309 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe; 800-955-4455, eldoradohotel.com. ROOMS: $159–$209. SUITES: $299–$349.
Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa Thirty minutes north
of the Albuquerque airport, this is New Mexico's premier
place for golfers to lodge—Twin Warriors is next door
and Santa Ana Golf Club is a mile down the road. Inhale the
delicious aromas emanating from the traditional pueblo-oven
breadmaking demonstrations and hit the spa for the "Spirit
Path" massage and herbal wrap.
1300 Tuyuna Trail, Santa Ana Pueblo; 505-867-1234, hyatt.com. ROOMS: $175–$345. SUITES: $500–$1,100.
Inn of the Anasazi Not the kind of place to go a-hootin'
and a-hollerin' with seven college buddies, this
Southwestern-themed boutique hotel may be only a block from
the bustling Plaza but it oozes a sophisticated and
113 Washington Avenue, Santa Fe; 505-988-3030, innoftheanasazi.com. ROOMS: $209–$339.
La Posada de Santa Fe This cluster of charming
Victorian-tinged adobes sits two blocks east of the Plaza
next to St. Francis Cathedral, amid lush lawns and gardens.
It's a verdant respite from the Wild West high-desert
landscape all around.
330 East Palace Avenue, Santa Fe; 866-331-7625, laposadadesantafe.com. ROOMS: $189–$299. SUITES: $389–$429.
WHERE TO EAT
Café Pasqual's (Southwestern) This tiny eatery
serves all three meals, but folks line up down the street
for breakfast. The service is superb, and Pasqual's doesn't
play favorites: Country star LeAnn Rimes recently waited
nearly half an hour for a table just like the rest of us.
Try the polenta with homemade chorizo, corn and red chile.
121 Don Gaspar Avenue, Santa Fe; 505-983-9340. $$$$
Corn Maiden (Modern American) Overlooking the Sandia
Mountains, this adobe-style restaurant at the Hyatt Regency
Tamaya Resort & Spa features an eye-catching open
kitchen, but most memorable is the quality of the food,
which is upscale American dusted with New Mexican accents.
Hyatt Tamaya Resort & Spa, 1300 Tuyuna Trail, Santa Ana Pueblo; 505-867-1234. $$$$
Frontier Restaurant (New Mexican) A classic or a
dive—it's your call—this jumping place just off
the campus of the University of New Mexico teems with
students, professors and travelers who come twenty-four
hours a day for the handmade tortillas and hangover-fixing
green-chile breakfast burritos.
2400 Central Avenue SE, Albuquerque; 505-266-0550. $
Geronimo (Global/Fusion) Santa Fe's most elegant
see-and-be-seen hangout, Geronimo is housed in a
250-year-old adobe hacienda in the heart of the gallery
district on Canyon Road. It's the perfect place to tuck
into after trolling for that one-of-a-kind Southwestern
sculpture or antique.
724 Canyon Road, Santa Fe; 505-982-1500. $$$$
Maria's New Mexican Kitchen (New Mexican) If you're looking
for authentic New Mexican food, this is the place. The
enchiladas are made with traditional Santa Fe blue-corn
tortillas, and there are 135 margaritas (using ninety
different tequilas) to choose from to wash them down.
555 West Cordova Road, Santa Fe; 505-983-7929. $$
The Old House at Eldorado Hotel (Contemporary) Inspired
chef Martin Rios uses the freshest seasonal ingredients
here, allowing the essence of natural flavors to shine
through in dishes such as mustard-and-pepper-crusted rack
Eldorado Hotel, 309 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe; 505-988-4455. $$$$
The Shed (New Mexican) Occupying a quaint adobe that dates
to 1692, this modest restaurant oozes charm. Thanks to a
smoky green-chile stew and piquant red-chile enchiladas,
the Shed is a lunchtime favorite among locals and tourists
113 East Palace Avenue, Santa Fe; 505-982-9030. $$