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Sandia Golf Club Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.5

Golf - Resort Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Albuquerque, NM
Website
· Stay & Play
Date Last Played: September 17, 2011

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Sandia Golf Club Review

 As we were driving on the freeway toward Sandia Golf Club we could see the Sandia Resort and Casino raising out of the brown flat desert just north of Albuquerque and couldn't believe that a top rated golf course could be anywhere nearby and if so it had to be flat and boring.  Wow, were we wrong! 

Sandia Golf Club is a very memorable layout that was carved out of the rugged high desert landscape by Scott Miller.  Scott leveraged the natural folds of the sloping desert terrain to create this impressive course and he must have moved mountains of dirt and desert to create the elevation changes, sparkling lakes with fountains and waterfalls, contoured rolling fairways, and challenging green complexes.  And every hole has panoramic vistas of the Sandia Mountains, Rio Grande River, Corrales Bosque, and greater Albuquerque area.  

Sandia Golf Club has received several accolades and awards, some of which include:

  • Golfweek's "Top 5 Best Places You Can Play in New Mexico"
  • Golf Magazine's "Top 10 New Courses You Can Play"
  • Golf Digest's "Best Places To Play"
  • Golfweek's "Top 100 Golf Resorts"

When you walk out to the deck of the Pro Shop which overlooks the 18th hole with a rolling downhill fairway leading to a plush green next to a lake with a waterfall and a fountain, you know that if the rest of the course is like this hole, you're in for a special treat - and you won't be disappointed.  Sandia Golf Club is a desert style resort course with friendly, expansive fairways that make your tee shots less of a concern than your second or approach shots.  The course  plays through the desert and if you spray the ball missing the fairways and rough you're in the  transistion areas of sparse desert landscaping and decomposed granite - miss that and you're in the sage brush, cactus, and desert sand!   If you can find the ball and you're not buried in the cactus or scrub brush, then you might have a shot back to the fairway.

Sandia Golf Club is the longest course in New Mexico but it has 4 sets of tee boxes ranging from 5112 to 7755 yards - don't bite off more than you can chew.  From the back tees you'll face plenty of long forced carries over natural and waste areas, several excellent risk reward shots, and strategically placed bunkers waiting to catch your ball. 

When we played in mid September, the course was in perfect condition from the tee box to the pin.  It was meticulously maintained and extensively  landscaped with a variety of colorful desert fauna - purple, red, yellow, and white.  The fairways are lush and plush, rolling and contoured, and ample.  Miss the fairway and the rough is thick but playable. Most of the holes give you an illusion of offering far less landing areas than is actually available - make sure you study the GPS and layout before you tee off.  There are also several excellent risk reward shots to shorten the hole - but don't miss.

The bent grass greens at Sandia Golf Club were also in perfect condition plus they were huge, true, held the ball well, and ran at a good speed of around 10 to 11 or so.   Ridges, spines, slope, and undulation can come into play but it isn't dramatic and reading the breaks wasn't a major problem.  This is a resort friendly course but the greens are guarded by mounds, swales, and some big bunkers as well as most are raised and some demand a precise uphill shot.

The sand in the 48 bunkers at Sandia Golf Club was some of the best we played on the Santa Fe Golf Trail - thick and soft, making it easy to get under the ball.  However, most of the bunkers are strategically placed, big and treacherous, and steep faced and deep.

Sandia Golf Club has some very unique, challenging, and memorable holes that are a blast to play.  Some examples include:

  • #1 is indicative of some of what you'll encounter during your round - a 380 uphill shot that twists through 4 fairway bunkers to a guarded two tier green with the Sandia Mountains as a backdrop
  • #5 is a three shot 662 yard par 5 that requires some strategic play to avoid the bunkers, clear the natural area crossing the fairway and leading all the way to the green
  • #7 is fantastic - a 592 yard beauty with a steep and deep bunker splitting the fairway and a large waste area that is a challenging carry to the green
  • #15 is a fun one that requires a precise drive to avoid a cluster of bunkers, avoid the arroyo, and position yourself for the dog right green that is across an arroyo and hidden by some bunkers
  • #18 is going to make you want to play Sandia again - a bunker and natural area split the fairway and make it difficult to decide which side to take through the downhill slot to the green with two bunkers, a lake, and the Resort's pool guests watching you

What a fantastic and upscale course and the Sandia Resort and Casino is equally impressive, plus they have some great stay and play options. 

Head Pro's Corner


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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Gold 7,772 75.1 125
Blue 7,163 72.0 120
White 6,502 68.7 115
Red 5,112 67.0 113

Course Information

Course Architect:
Scott Miller
Greens Type:
Bent
Greens Condition
10.0
Greens Difficulty
8.0
Fairway Condition
10.0
Bunker Condition
9.5
GPS:
Yes
Walkable:
No
Scorecard
Course Map
Beware of water on 4 holes and the 48 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
9.5 out of 10
Beauty:
9.0
Difficulty:
8.5
Variety:
9.0
Fun to Play:
10.0
Value:
10.0
Condition:
10.0
Front Nine Rating:
9.3
Back Nine Rating:
9.8
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FEES & AMENITIES

Approximate Weekend
Rates:
$45.00 to $85.00

The 16,000 square foot "Pueblo style" clubhouse is home to a well stocked pro shop and full service restaurant and bar with a great patio and view of the 18th hole and Sandia Mountains. The practice facilities are very good and the service is some of the best and friendliest we experienced while playing the Santa Fe Golf Trail.

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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! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

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.