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Towa Golf Club - Pinon Review

Texas Outside Rating: 8.7

Golf - Resort Public Course · 9 Holes · Par 36
Pojoaque Pueblo, NM
Website
Date Last Played: September 13, 2011

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Towa Golf Club - Pinon Review

Towa Golf Club is part of the Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino which is about 15 minutes from Santa Fe.  Towa Golf Club is home to 27 holes which are a modified desert links style that run along ridges against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, overlook the Posjoaque Valley, and are studded with boulders, pinons and Cholla Cactus. 

Towa takes advantage of the natural topography, unique rock formations and natural vegetation indigenous to the region - all of which provides scenic beauty that can grab your attention as well as challenges that require you to focus on club selection and course management.

Each of the three nines has it's own unique personality and characteristics, for example:

  • Pinon has lots of dog legs as it plays through the Pinon trees and club selection is critical off the tee box
  • Valley is the shortest and probably the easiest of the nines thanks to bigger greens and wider fairways
  • Boulder offers the most variety and some dramatic vistas as well as the only island green in New Mexico

Common to all three courses are extraordinary vistas from every tee, stunning southwestern high desert terrain, rambling fairways, some fun as well as challenging holes, five sets of tee boxes, dramatic elevation changes, and  large greens averaging 6,500 square feet, which is slightly larger than the national average of 6,300 square feet. 

When we played in late September 2011, Towa was still trying to recover from some harsh winter conditions that had virtually destroyed the greens as well as done a lot of damage to the fairways.  As such the conditions were not the best but very playable.

The Pinon Nine at Towa gives you a feeling that you're playing on the top of the mesa and among the rugged desert and Pinons.  This nine really puts a premium on club selection and accuracy off the tee box.  The spectacular first hole is a good example:  a 627 yard par 5 that from an elevated tee box (a stunning view) with a forced carry you can't see a lot of the landing zone which is tight thanks to a very deep arroyo all along the right side and hills and natural area along the left plus a strategically placed bunker - survive that and then you need to pick the right club to take you down and then back up to a guarded green.  A number of other holes have similar characteristics.

During the rest of the round you'll encounter plenty of forced carries over natural areas and arroyos, dramatic elevation changes, uphill and downhill shots to the greens, some treacherous steep and deep bunkers, and some challenging green complexes. 

The greens can be demanding - all have at least one bunker, some are raised, they are all shapes and sizes, and they have gentle breaks plus some spines and ridges.

The fairways are tight and you don't want to miss them unless you want to check out the wildlife and cactus. 

The bunkers are all shapes and sizes and most are steep and deep. 

A fun nine to play and the second time you play it you should score much better.  You need accuracy and precision and good club selection to score well on this nine.

The Rating/Slope are based on playing Pinon and Valley courses together.

Here is a link to the review of  Towa's Valley and  Boulder nines

Head Pro's Corner

According to the head pro, the winter weather just about destroyed all of Towa's greens - the course is finally starting to recover and in September 2011 was close to being back to normal.

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 3,575 71.2 126
Gold 3,352 68.8 125
Blue 3,104 66.8 121
White 2,783 64.8 112
Red 2,361 65.5 117

Course Information

Course Architect:
Hale Irwin
Greens Type:
Bent
Greens Condition
9.0
Greens Difficulty
8.5
Fairway Condition
7.5
Bunker Condition
8.0
GPS:
No
Beware of water on 0 holes and the 24 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
8.7 out of 10
Beauty:
8.8
Difficulty:
8.5
Variety:
9.0
Fun to Play:
9.0
Value:
9.3
Condition:
7.5
Front Nine Rating:
8.7
Back Nine Rating:
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FEES & AMENITIES

Approximate Weekend
Rates:
$55.00 to $79.00

Service is ok, the pro shop is very well stocked, the restaurant has some good food, and the practice facilities are good.

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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.