SANTA ANA PUEBLO, NM - If you think the greens are breakneck speed and slippery at the 27-hole Santa Ana Golf Club now, you should have seen them a couple of years ago during the Buy.com New Mexico Open.
"There were some pin placements where you could putt, and if you hit it too hard, roll into a water hazard," said member Ted Morse. "And during the Buy.com event there were plenty of four putts on the Tamaya's No. 7 - the golfers complained so loudly that a decision was finally made to put the pin on the top shelf on the flattest part of the green and keep it there.
"Santa Ana is a great golf club and with 27 holes you can play a different combination every day," Morse continued. "The course is fair and if you aren't playing very well there's the great scenery of the Sandia Mountains in the distance and the Rio Grande River bosque."
The New Mexico Open (August 23-26) of the Buy.com Tour has moved less than a mile away to the brand-new Twin Warriors Golf Club, but the undulating and fast greens are still here at the Santa Ana links gem to challenge you.
"If you can play all 27, I like to start with the Star, because I think it is the easiest," said Joe Cramer. "The Tamaya-Cheena 18 hosted the Buy.com tour in 2000. The course does not play very long but you must be very careful with approach shots. The greens are undulating, tricky and lightning fast. It's definitely a challenge on the putting surfaces and at all cost leave the ball below the hole."
Santa Ana Golf Club has a typical, rugged, desert-like New Mexico landscape. The course weaves its way through the arid land, arroyos and sage, is sprinkled with clear-blue lakes, and is within sight of the rolling Rio Grande River. In the distance in every direction you can see mountain views.
Designed by Ken Killian, Santa Ana was designated as "one of America's three best true links-style golf courses," by The New York Times.
"Santa Ana is our Cadillac golf course and I always wondered how you could improve on excellence," said Roger Martinez, Director of Golf at Santa Ana. "But when we put in our ParView GPS system it helped make the game of golf a better experience from the perspectives of both the players and managers. We are pleased to be a part of the evolution of this great industry."
The Tamaya-Cheena combination plays at more than 7,239 yards at par 71. The Tamaya-Star combo is a par 72 at more than 7,200 yards. And the Cheena-Star coupling measures more than 7,100 yards at par 71.
One of the toughest holes is the Cheena's No. 8, a par 5 at 633 yards from the back. Your view to the left is the Rio Grande and its tall cottonwoods. The tee shot requires a forced carry of 200 yards, but going too far right might mean you are blocked out by other trees.
The Cheena's finishing hole, handicap No. 2, means you just played the two toughest holes back-to-back. It is a 468-yard par 4 with a huge bunker guarding the left side on the tee shot. If you don't place your drive down the right side, you are faced with an approach over a lake on the left with three bunkers negating your thoughts of bail-out to the right.
The Star's No. 8 is a par 3 measuring only 167, but it's all over water with pot bunkers framing it in the front and back. The green has two tiers that's isn't very deep, making it hard to hold.
The 2000 New Mexico Classic Buy.Com was won by Jason Gore at Santa Ana. Gore entered the round trailing third-round leader Mike Grob by one shot. Gore overcame Grob on the third hole and closed with a 4-under-66 to finish the event 72-hole event at 14-under. 1999 New Mexico Classic Nike Tour Champion was Dick Mast, who was tied Joel Edwards at the beginning of the final round, and shot a 7-under-63 to win.
PO Box 5760
Santa Ana Pueblo, NM 87004
Green Fees: Monday-Thursday, $42. Friday-Sunday, $50, includes GPS cart. Walking rates, $30 and $38 for weekend. Special twilight rates, junior, senior rates available. Call for details.
Directions: From I-25 going north, get off at Exit 242 and turn west on Route 44. After crossing the Rio Grande River, follow the directional signs to the course on your right.
Where to Dine: Prairie Star Restaurant at the golf course
Events Hosted: More than 20 USGA Qualifiers. Seven PGA Sectional Challenge-Cups. Seven PGA Sectional Oldsmobile Championships. Two PGA Sectional Pro-Pro Championships. The New Mexico Open. A PGA Sectional Assistants Championship. Seven hundred Charitable Golf Events. Seven State Amateur 4-Ball Championships. A State Amateur Championship. In 2000, Santa Ana will host: Buy.com Tour - NM Classic (formerly known as Nike Tour). USGA US Open Qualifier. USGA Mid Amateur Qualifier. USGA Senior Amateur Qualifier.
In 1999 alone, the Club hosted: US Women's Amateur Public Links Championship. 1999 PGA Western Club Professional Championship. Nike Tour - NM Classic State. Amateur 4-Ball 1999 PGA Challenge Cup. 1999 PGA Oldsmobile Sectional Championship. Western Senior Championship. USGA Mid-Amateur Qualifier and USGA Senior Amateur Qualifier.
Hyatt Regency Tamaya
1300 Tuyuna Trail
Santa Ana Pueblo, NM 87004
Phone: (505) 867-1234
This spectacular hotel is the largest resort ever developed on Native American land and you will have the Sandia Mountains framed out your guestroom's window. You will see brilliant mountain sunsets and the restored stretch of "bosque", the native cottonwood forest indigenous to the ever-flowing Rio Grande River. The Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa is a 350-room resort that features a 16,000-square-foot spa. The hotel reflects the architecture of the area with pueblo-style buildings and guestrooms.
When you stay here you have 45 holes of golf with Twin Warriors Golf Club (twinwarriorsgolf.com) next door and Santa Ana Golf Club just five minutes away.
Practice Fac.: A-
Clubhouse/Pro Shop: A
Pace of Play: A
Overall Rating: A