Santa Ana Golf Club - Cheena Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.3

Golf - Public Course · 9 Holes · Par 36
Santa Ana Pueblo, NM

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Santa Ana Golf Club - Cheena 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  Star Nine to learn more about each of those courses.    

The Cheena nine was our favorite nine - it has more character with some rolling fairways, elevation changes, and more mounding; seemed a little more challenging has a couple good risk reward opportunities; and it offers more variety with each hole being a little different than the previous hole. 

The last four holes on Cheena are excellent - fun and challenging:

  • #6 is a fun 375 yarder that is a slightly downhill shot from the tee box and then across a clear blue lake to a challenging green complex with water, bunkers, and a green with a ridge
  • #7 is a 443 yard uphill fairway which fades right and down to the green guarded by two bunkers
  • #8 is a long 633 yard par 5 that plays along a ridge above the Rio Grande Bosque (spray the ball left and you're gone) and then about 200 yards out the fairway is heavily contoured and sloping left leading to a slightly uphill green surrounded by some mounds
  • #9 requires a precise shot to nail the green which has water on the left, 2 large bunkers, and some mounding

This nine is the longest of the nines from all of the tee boxes except the tips and it seems like it was the hardest nine.  The fairways are a little tighter with contour and twists and turns. 

The fairways and roughs were in good condition but miss them and you're in the native area and you'll be lucky to have a shot back toward the green.

The greens are average size with slope, mostly back to front - try to keep the ball below the pin.  This nine puts a premium on accuracy on the approach shots. 

The bunkers on the Cheena Nine are thin lipped, vary in size from average to huge, and the sand is thin, very firm, and gritty.

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

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.

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Blue 3,351 70.8 132
White 3,003 67.7 124
Gold 3,628 73.0 135
Red 2,579 68.3 118

Course Information

Course Architect:
Ken Killian
Greens Type:
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Beware of water on 5 holes and the 21 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

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


Approximate Weekend
$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.



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.