Paako Ridge Golf Course - 10 to 18 Nine Review

Texas Outside Rating: 10.0

Golf - Public Course · 9 Holes · Par 36
Sandia Park, NM

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Paako Ridge Golf Course - 10 to 18 Nine Review

Review of Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club Holes 10 to 18

Wow, we have finally found and played our first perfect 10 for nine holes – the 10ththru the 18thholes at Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club!  The other nine holes we played are equally as impressive and about as close as you can get to a perfect 10.  In fact, Paa-Ko Ridge is what every other course should aspire to be – very scenic, excellent conditions, near-perfect greens, fair but very challenging, lots of “wows” and Kodak moments, reasonable rates plus some real bargains, good amenities, and some unique, interesting, and memorable holes. 

And it’s not a surprise that Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club is one of only 23 courses in the nation to receive a 5-star rating and that it has received a number of awards and accolades, some of which include:

  • Golf World’s “Top Public Golf Facilities in America - #3
  • GolfWeek’s Top 100 Modern Courses in America - #23
  • Golf Digest’s America’s 100 Greatest Public course - #20
  • Golf Magazine’s top 100 you can play in America - #28

Paa Ko Ridge Golf Club is on the eastern side of the Sandia Mountains about 40 minutes from Albuquerque and was designed by Ken Dye.  The first 18 opened in 2000 to rave reviews and the third nine opened in 2006.  The 27 holes play through a pristine alpine setting of pinon, juniper, and ponderosa pine, high desert colorful fauna, and majestic unmatched mountain vistas from every tee box.  Each of the nines is unique with its own personality and characteristics which are and a little different from the other nines, for example:

  • 1stto 9this generally regarded as the easiest of the nines but it’s no walk in the park
  • 10thto 18thplays up and down the pristine foothills of the Sandia Mountains and is hands down the most scenic of the nines and it’s home to the signature 17thhole
  • 19thto 27this the longest and the hardest with three beautiful but long par 3’s (228, 202, and 251 yards) and three very challenging par 5s plus some huge stunning homes dotting the hillsides

On our first visit to Paa-Ko Ridge in 2011 we didn't have time to play holes 1 to 9 and we couldn't wait to return, which we did in 2013.  Another "Wow" - 1 to 9 is also a must-play - here is our link to the review of holes 1 to 9.  And we got to play 10 to 18 again and it still remains a perfect 10! You can read our review of  Paa-Ko Ridge's 19thto 27th to learn more about each of these fantastic nine holes. 

The 10thto 18this a perfect 10 – it just doesn’t get much better than what you’ll find on this nine – beautiful scenery and panoramic vistas, excellent conditions, lots of variety, memorable holes that are fun and fair but very challenging, and the green fees are well worth it, particularly with an online special.  This nine slowly climbs up the foothills and then turns and plays back down to the club house – the scenery and the cart ride which twists and turns through the trees and colorful high desert fauna is breathtaking.   Make sure that you walk up to the back tees on the 17thhole – you won’t believe the breathtaking view of some of the lush green golf holes, pro shop, lakes, mountains, trees, and beautiful homes!   And you just have to hit a couple of balls from this dramatically elevated tee box with a very intimidating forced carry.

Paa Ko Ridge’s 10thto 18thholes are a lot more than just ascetically pleasing eye candy – to score well here you need to:

  • pick the right set of tee boxes and don’t bite off more than you can chew
  • favor precision over distance – you don’t want to miss the fairways
  • putt like you have never putted before – the greens have plenty of slope, undulation, ridges, and tiers and they roll very fast
  • deploy your “A” game and best course management skills to manage the significant elevation changes, wind,  thick rough, and uphill raised greens
  • know how to play uneven lies - you'll have plenty of them
  • have a good bunker game

But don’t let all of that scare you – Paa-Ko Ridge is demanding but it’s fair and if you play smart you’ll have an enjoyable and well scoring round.  When we first arrived we met a guy who had a huge grin on his face as he was admiring the scenery and stunning views of a couple of the holes from the clubhouse -  turns out he had just driven 1600 miles to play Paa-Ko Ridge because it was on his bucket list of courses to play.  We saw him after his round and he was still smiling and said Paa-Ko Ridge exceeded his expectations.  You need to add it to your bucket list. 

The greens on this nine are near perfect and they are good sized, run very fast (around an 11), and have plenty of slope, undulation, and contour. 

The fairways are lush and plush and also have plenty of contour.  Most of them are ample but don't miss or you're in a fairly thick rough or lost in the trees.

The bunkers were a disappointment – the sand was gritty, thin, and hard to get out of.   Turns out that all of the New Mexico courses we played had similar hard gritty sand - the good sand tends to blow away!   The bunkers range in size from small to huge and some are deep and steep faced.

I'll say it again - WOW, what a fantastic nine. 

Head Pro's Corner

Since we last played Paako Ridge, the course and facilities have undergone improvements that now include concierge service upon arrival and departure, new electric golf carts, an all-inclusive rate structure that includes all of your food and non-alcoholic beverages, and a new luxury clubhouse is under construction and scheduled for completion in Spring 2020.

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 3,825 75.8 139
Blue 3,335 71.4 135
White 3,095 69.3 129
Gold 3,624 73.9 138
Red 2,826 71.9 134

Course Information

Course Architect:
Ken Dye
Greens Type:
Bent Grass
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Very Hilly
Beware of water on 2 holes and the 38 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

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


Approximate Weekend
$59.00 to $114.00

Like the course, everything at Paa-Ko Ridge is first class - a well stocked pro shop, great service, fantastic practice facilities, and good food with a tremendous view.



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.