Towa Golf Club - Valley Review

Texas Outside Rating: 8.8

Golf - Resort Public Course · 9 Holes · Par 36
Pojoaque Pueblo, NM

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Towa Golf Club - Valley 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 Valley Nine at Towa Golf Club is the shortest from all tee boxes, except the the forward tees, with yardages ranging from 2397 to 3377 yards.  But it's no walk in the park and seems to be a lot tricker off the tee box thanks to forced carries, blind shots, gentle ups and downs, and more.  Club selection and course management are critical to score well on this nine.  The Valley Nine comes close to being a shot makers and risk takers nine.  For example:

  • #3 is a short 318 yard par 4 from a slightly elevated tee box to a sharp dog leg right green - you will be tempted to go for the green but miss and you're in the desert
  • #5 is a 357 yard blind downhill shot with water that comes into play on the left side near the green
  • #9 is a great finishing hole with a blind shot off the tee box then down and across an arroyo to the green

This nine plays through the valley and the fairways seem a little flatter offering more roll, making club selection even more important.  The fairways are ample but blind shots and most are fairly straight.

The greens were recently aerated so it was hard to judge how they rolled - we didn't find them that challenging.

The Valley Nine also seemed to be in the best condition of all three nines.  It's short but fun and no walk in the park.

The rating and slope are based on playing the Pinon and Boulder courses together.

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

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 3,377 71.4 129
Blue 2,938 66.7 123
White 2,713 65.1 111
Gold 3,165 68.8 126
Red 2,397 65.9 117

Course Information

Course Architect:
Hale Irwin
Greens Type:
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Beware of water on 2 holes and the 15 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

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


Approximate Weekend
$55.00 to $79.00



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.