Using the majestic Franklin Mountains as a backdrop, Ken Dye and Jeffery Brauer carved three unique nine hole courses out of the Chihuahan Desert. and all 27 holes twist and turn through the desert's native foliage. If you spray the ball and miss the fairway, you'll get to experience native cacti, mesquite, creosote bushes, and Mormon tea plants, which signifies the area was once used as a trail by pioneers. I know from first hand experience that if your ball lands in the cactus or thorny brush, let it rest - the thorns are sharp and reluctant to give up the ball without a number of pricks. My right arm looks like a pin cushion and my white golf towel is now covered with red blood spots. During the season and after a good rain, the desert comes alive with some vibrant colorful fauna.
Since opening, Painted Dunes has received a number of awards and accolades from Golf Digest, USGA, and the Dallas Morning News listed Painted Dunes as one of the preeminent golf facilities in Texas and the Southwest.
Each of the nines is a links style design that puts a premium on putting and shot making, particularly on the approach shots to the greens. Common to all three nines are a great rate, pretty good conditions, friendly service, challenging green complexes, and a native wild coyote who typically sits on the tee box in front of the pro shop. Here is a link to our review of Painted Dunes West Course.
Normally the conditions at Painted Dunes are very good - lush green fairways and near perfect greens. When we played in late March, Painted Dunes was starting to transition from the dormant winter conditions as you can tell from the pictures. The course was also starting to recover from a very harsh January and February with record lows (minus 9) and snow. As such the conditions weren't the best but a couple of locals that we played with verified that normally conditions of the greens and fairways would be between a high 8 to 9.
The North Nine is easier than the West nine thanks to some wide and forgiving fairways and more manageable green complexes. But it's still no walk in the park and requires you to manage the wind, dog legs, water, as well as avoid the 28 bunkers and stay out of the desert.
The first hole on the North Course at Painted Dunes gives you a feel for what to expect during your round - a 562 yard par 5 double dog leg with a rolling fairway with lots of mounding that twists and turns past several bunkers on the way to a challenging green complex with mounds, swales, and bunkers. During the rest of your round you'll need to manage:
But don't let all of that scare you - it's manageable and makes playing the North Course a lot of fun. In addition, there are some very memorable holes and particularly the last three holes:
When we played in late March the course was transitioning from winter to summer conditions. The conditions of both the fairways and greens were very good and some locals claimed that during the season the fairways are green and lush and the greens are excellent.
Speaking of the greens, they can be very challenging on the approach - some are elevated and most are well guarded with bunkers, swales, and mounds. They vary in size from average to large and to get it in the cup you'll have to read the spines, ridges, slope, tiers, and undulation.
Great track and a must play if you're in El Paso or anywhere near Painted Dunes. Rating and slope are based on playing the North and West courses.
Rates: $16.00 to $39.00
Service is very good and Texas friendly, the pro shop is well stocked with all the basics, and the practice facilities are adequate. The clubhouse has a bar area and a grill with some good food - the breakfast Burrito and green chili cheese burger are delicious!
Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating
The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this: links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses!
All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course. In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40. We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.