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Santa Ana Golf Club - Star Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 8.5

Golf - Public Course · 9 Holes · Par 36
Santa Ana Pueblo, NM
Website
Date Last Played: September 19, 2011

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Santa Ana Golf Club - Star Course Review

Santa Ana Golf Club is home to three very good nine hole courses that are very golfer friendly, typically in great condition, fun to play, and a very good value.  The courses are woven through the desert near the Rio Grande and surrounded by the grandeur of the Jemez Mountains to the west, the Sangre de Cristos to the north, and the Sandia Mountains immediately east.  From every hole you'll have a spectacular view of the 10,000-foot Sandia Peak.  Native grasses, subtle mounding, and eight crystal-blue lakes add beauty as well as a challenge to your round at Santa Ana Golf Club. 

Each of the courses is a little bit different from the others and each offers some fun and demanding holes.  All three nines have 4 sets of tee boxes, sloping greens, plenty of bunkering, fairly thick roughs, and ample fairways that play through the high New Mexico desert just north of Albuquerque,  Also common to all three nines is a very good finishing hole with a lake and bunkers that come into play on your approach shot.  This is a very popular golf course and a real bargain and as such, pace of play can be a tad slow, particularly on weekends.

The New York Times stated that Santa Ana Golf Club was "one of America's three best links style golf courses."  and some of the other awards and accolades include:

  • Golf Digest 4 Stars
  • Golf Digest America's Top 40 Casino Golf Courses-- #33
  • Golf Digest State of New Mexico Golf Courses -- #10
  • Golf Magazine America's Top 50 For Under $50-- #7
  • Golf For Women America's Top 100 Women-Friendly Courses-- #47

You can read our review of the  Tamaya Nine and   Cheena Nine, to learn more about each course.       

The Star Course at Santa Ana Golf Club is the shortest of the three nines with yardages ranging from 2481 to 3571 yards.  The Star Course is fairly traditional and straightforward with some forced carries, dog legs, water on 4 holes, and a couple challenging approach shots.  This is a nine where if you stay in fairway, you'll have a relaxing and very good round. Playing from the tips can be much more demanding.

We noticed that some of the holes have names that pretty well describe the hole, for example:

  • Perseverance is a long 594 yard par 5 with a straight fairway, 2 huge bunkers, and a dog leg left green
  • Star 5 is the signature 5th hole and it's a blast to play and requires a decision on the tee box and then accuracy all the way to the pin - can you drive the green and avoid the bunkers and lake or should you take the safer but longer left side or should you lay up in front of a right fairway bunker and then fly the lake to the green
  • Confidence requires you to suck it up and try to fly the lake, avoid the bunker, and nail the oblong two tier green on this 167 yard par 3

When we played Santa Ana the fairways were in above average condition and the rough was fairly thick.  The fairways are ample but if you miss them you're in the desert scrub and sand, however, you may get lucky and find a playable ball or a rabbit, ground squirrel, roadrunner, or rattlesnake.  

The greens are about average size and a variety of shapes.  Most are generally flat with back to front slope.  They were in very good condition when we played they ran at a pretty good speed of around 10 or so.  They held the ball well. 

The bunkers are thin lipped and the sand is shallow and firm and gritty.  We found it hard to get under the ball. 

The above slope and rating are based on playing the Cheena and Star nine together.

Bottom line - a good nine holes that gives you the opportunity to turn in a good score.

You should also play Santa Ana's sister course, Twin Warriors, which is just down the road and a fantastic track that we rated 9.3 - here is a link to the review of Twin Warriors.  The Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa is adjacent to Twin Warriors and it's a fantastic resort with good stay and play packages - read our review of the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa to learn more.

Head Pro's Corner


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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Gold 3,517 73.0 135
Blue 3,221 70.8 132
White 2,950 67.7 124
Red 2,481 68.3 118

Course Information

Course Architect:
Ken Killian
Greens Type:
Bent
Greens Condition
9.0
Greens Difficulty
7.5
Fairway Condition
8.8
Bunker Condition
7.0
GPS:
Yes
Walkable:
Easy
Beware of water on 4 holes and the 20 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
8.5 out of 10
Beauty:
8.0
Difficulty:
8.0
Variety:
8.0
Fun to Play:
9.0
Value:
9.0
Condition:
8.8
Front Nine Rating:
8.5
Back Nine Rating:
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FEES & AMENITIES

Approximate Weekend
Rates:
$37.00 to $62.00

Service is very good, the practice facilities are adequate, and the grill has some good food - the green chili stew is excellent.

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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.