Paako Ridge Golf Course - 19 to 27 Nine Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.8

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

Img_4476 Img_4478 Img_4486

Paako Ridge Golf Course - 19 to 27 Nine Review

Review of Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club Holes 19 to 27

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 were 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, it started raining when were were getting ready to play holes 1 to 9.  We returned in 2013 and played 1 to 9 as well as 10 to 18 - wow, both remain as two of our top rated courses.  Here is a link to our review of 1 to 9 and our review of   Paa-Ko Ridge's 10thto 18th.

The 19th to 27th holes of Paa Ko Ridge are excellent and a pleasure to play.  This nine will throw a little bit of everything at you that will test your game – challenging green complexes, contoured fairways, lots of uphill and downhill shots, lots of forced carries, and plenty of bunkering.  What a fantastic layout that plays through the trees and hills of the Sandia Mountain foothills offering some stunning scenery of the mountains and valleys as well as some huge beautiful homes dotting the hillsides. 

This nine has three outstanding par 3s and 3 challenging par 5s and bunkers and forced carries clearly define what this nine is all about.  Every hole is a little bit different, unique, and a blast to play.  Each of the holes have a name which give you an idea of what to expect, like Descent, Postage Stamp, Waterloo, Ambush, or Muirfield, which thanks to 14 bunker should be called minefield. Some examples of great holes include:

  • #19 is a 565 yard roller coaster ride to an uphill green with 7 bunkers waiting to catch your approach shot
  • From the elevated tee box on the 228 yard par 3 22nd hole the view is majestic with the Sandia Mountains as a backdrop to the green
  • #23 is the #1 handicap and it can make or break your round – 625 yards uphill on a twisting fairway lined with a minefield of 15 bunkers ranging from small ovals to some huge steep and deep monsters
  • #24 is appropriately called Postage Stamp – a big downhill 202 yard shot to a small green with 7 bunkers surrounding it
  • The only water on this nine, #25, is a crystal clear blue lake waiting for your approach shot to the green, which also has 3 bunkers guarding it

Like the other nines, the fairways are perfect with roughs that can be challenging.  The landing zones and most of the fairways are ample but if you miss them and over shoot the rough, you’re most likely lost in the natural areas. 

The greens on the 19th to 27th nine were also perfect – fast, true, and in excellent condition.  Practice putting before you head out because the greens have plenty of contour, slope, and undulation.  In addition, all of the greens are well guarded and require precision on the approach – the good news is that the greens are above average size.

The bunkers were the only disappointment – hard gritty sand makes it hard to get under the ball.  Turns out that all of the New Mexico courses we played had similar hard sand - white thick sand tends to blow away.  This nine at Paa Ko Ridge has 45 bunkers that range in size from small pot bunkers to some huge monsters.

Wow, what a fun and enjoyable nine.  Can't wait to get back and play it again. 

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

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.

Img_4488 Img_4490 Img_4494

Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 3,842 75.2 137
Blue 3,492 70.7 130
White 3,296 68.6 122
Gold 3,708 73.0 134
Red 3,020 71.7 134

Course Information

Course Architect:
Ken Dye
Greens Type:
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Very hilly
Beware of water on 1 holes and the 45 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
9.8 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.