Cochiti Golf Club Review

Texas Outside Rating: 8.8

Golf - Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Cochiti Lake, NM

Dsc_0561 Dsc_0553 Dsc_0587

Cochiti Golf Club Review

Review of Cochiti Golf Club

Lying amid the foothills of the Jemez Mountains, the Cochiti Golf Course is located approximately 50 minutes north of Albuquerque and 30 minutes southwest of Santa Fe.  Pueblo De Cochiti Golf Club was designed by Robert Trent Jones JR and opened for play in 1981 and he did an excellent job of leveraging the natural terrain to create a stunning and fun course to play.  The locals have dubbed the course “heaven with a zip code” in part thanks to its natural beauty and breathtaking views. 

The Cochiti Golf Club is undisturbed by civilization but alive with lots of birds, squirrels, and other wildlife.  It’s a fair but challenging course that puts a premium on staying in the fairway and two, not three or four, putting on some demanding greens.  The fairways are generous but if you spray it you’ll most likely be lost in the trees, brush, cactus, and natural areas. 

There are four sets of tee boxes and yardages are a little short ranging from 5100 to 6817 yards – so pick the right set of tee boxes, stay in the fairway, putt well and you’ll have a really fun, enjoyable, and memorable round.  It’s not surprising that Pueblo De Cochiti Golf Club was rated in the “Top 10 Best Courses in New Mexico” by Golf Digest. During your round you’ll also learn a little Indian language – each of the holes has a name in English and in Indian and some of the names are appropriate like “leap frog” over the pond to the green or #6 named “the monster.”

Cochiti Golf Club’s front nine plays through an arroyo and from our perspective is the easiest of the nines.  Some of the holes that we really liked on this nine included:

  • #1 is a 525 yard par 5 with an elevated tee shot downhill and to a big contoured green with a cluster of 5 bunkers guarding it
  • #5 is a fun 565 yard par 5 that requires a precise drive to miss three fairway bunkers and give you a shot at the dog leg right fairway leading to a raised green with 3 more bunkers
  • #8 is the #2 handicap hole – it’s short at 365 yards, offers a great risk reward shot off the tee to try and carry the natural area (don’t miss if you try it), and then an uphill shot to green

We really liked the back nine at Pueblo De Cochiti Golf Club because it seemed a little more challenging, had some beautify views, and was home to some very interesting and memorable holes like:

  • #10 is a short 335 yard par 4 but it has an elevated tee shot that could take your ball down the steep and contoured fairway right into the pond that fronts and surrounds three quarters of the green
  • #12 is fun and from the front elevated tee boxes has a big tree that forces you left for a safe but longer shot to the dog right green or a very risky shot to try and fly it and miss the natural area to the right for a much shorter second shot
  • #13 is Kodak moment and #14 is the #1 handicap hole with a heavily contoured roller coaster fairway that gets pretty narrow as it twists through some bunkers
  • #15 has a little bit of everything that makes golf fun and frustrating – an elevated tee shot with a tree splitting the fairway on the left and a great risk reward shot over the natural area on the right, and a dog leg right past 7 bunkers to the green
  • #18 is outstanding – a short but tricky 390 yard par 4 that requires accuracy all the way – from an elevated tee box you need to carry a pond and stuff it on a tight fairway bordered by trees and a hill on the right and a lake that follows the fairway past a bunker to the green

When we played in June 2013, all of New Mexico was still suffering from a three year drought and most of the courses were in pretty poor condition due to a lack of rain and water rationing and restrictions.  Cochiti Golf Club was in very good condition (some folks said it is home to the best conditions in New Mexico this year) because it has a deep aquifer and doesn’t suffer from water restrictions because it is on the Indian reservation.  As such the fairways were in good shape with a few bare spots and some dying weeds, the rough was excellent, and the greens were near perfect.

The fairways range from wide and generous with a wide playable rough to some that are a tad tight in the landing zones.  There are lots of elevated tee boxes, uphill shots to raised greens, plenty of dog legs left and right, and lots of slope and contour creating some extra roll and uneven lies.

The bent grass greens at Cochiti Golf Club range from big to huge (with a couple exceptions) and they are a wide variety of shapes from ovals to pears to oblong!  And they have lots of slope, a few tiers, and plenty of contour.  When we played they were in very good condition, ran true if you could read them properly, and they ran fast at around 10 or so.  Most are raised and guarded by one to 4 bunkers.  This course puts a premium on putting – we had several 3 putts!

There are 61 bunkers that range in size and shape from average to huge monsters.  The good news is that the lips are small and the sand is firm and gritty, meaning you may get lucky and hit in and then roll out of the bunkers – we did it several times.  The sand is thin and it’s had to get a good bite under the ball if you’re close to the green.  The good news is that from the fairway bunkers, since the sand is so firm and the lips are small, you’ll have an easy recovery shot out of the bunker. 

Bottom line – good conditions, some outstanding holes, great rates, quiet and peaceful, and some stunning views.   A must play if you’re in the area.

Read all about this fun trip to Southern Colorado/Northern New Mexico where this is one of the courses we played.

Dsc_0564 Dsc_0566 Dsc_0570

Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Blue 6,413 68.1 128
White 5,841 66.1 119
Gold 6,817 71.0 132
Red 5,100 68.3 113

Course Information

Course Architect:
Robert Trent Jones Jr
Greens Type:
Bent grass
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Beware of water on 4 holes and the 61 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
8.8 out of 10
Fun to Play:
Front Nine Rating:
Back Nine Rating:


Approximate Weekend
$42.00 to $68.00

Service is ok, the pro shop is well stocked with all the basics, the range is good, and the grill has some good food including an excellent green chili burger.



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.