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Albuquerque: Isleta Eagle Offers 27 Holes

By Diana Rowe Martinez, Contributor

If you're looking for wide open spaces, framed by rugged mountains with mile-high elevation and varied landscape, mixed with a golfer's sun and endless blue sky, then have I got the golf destination for you. Albuquerque and Santa Fe are one of our country's most unique golf locations, and Albuquerque is easy to get to as it is host to the only commercial airport in the state of New Mexico, Albuquerque International Sunport.

Albuquerque is now a booming "big small town" of 600,000 and is making a name for itself in the golf industry, and it's easy to see why. With its natural terrain, the creative imaginations of some of the world's most renowned course designers come alive. The potential for carving out a masterpiece in golf courses is there and evident in the nearly 25 courses-public, private and military-located in the metro area.

Whether you chose tranquil play at the city's westside Paradise Hills Golf Course or the Tierra del Sol Golf Course thirty miles south of the city in Belen, or pick the rolling hills and undulating greens of the Championship Course at the University of New Mexico, you'll find a challenging course to meet your needs near Albuquerque.

One such place is The Isleta Eagle Golf Course, a 27-hole public golf course with three distinct nine-hole tracts. Isleta Eagle is perched on top of the Pueblo of Isleta's vast high desert reservation just five minutes south of Albuquerque and the holes are centered about a pueblo-style clubhouse. Aptly named "eagle," this course affords the golfer with panoramic views of the sweeping Rio Grande and surrounding rugged mountain ranges.

The three Nines - Mesa, Lakes, and Arroyo - are designed around and named after their primary topographic feature offering a classic links/native desert style design.

Designed on native grass, the Mesa Nine claims backdrop views of Mount Taylor and the Rio Grande. Most of Mesa holes are designed around and across native washes adding to the challenge of your round at Isleta. Hole 1 is a downhill tee shot that teases your senses with the view, but don't be fooled. Your drive can be sucked into the bunkers in this downhill shot. The next eight holes deliver the same challenging play and continues to keep the golfer on her toes.

The Lakes Nine plays down off the mesa slopes to two large lake complexes. Lakes Hole 1 begins with a par 5. Your best approach here is from right center of the fairway. The slope in front of the green makes your approach shot a necessary carry to the green. The Santa Fe rolling down the tracks could whistle its approach at Lakes No. 4 where water completely fronts the green in an intimidating 193 yard, par 3. Lakes No. 7 is downhill with plenty of room on this par 4, 432-yard hole, but getting to the green is only half the fun! Seven of the Lakes Nine holes are designed around the large contoured edge-shaped lakes, consistent with the philosophy of the course designers to build around the southwestern geography.

The Arroyo Nine, designed around the largest mesa arroyo, creates the course's most spectacular view at the No. 1 hole tee. On the first and ninth holes, the player is faced with negotiating over and adjacent to the large arroyo without sacrificing their ball and risking added strokes to their game. Water comes into play at the last few holes adding to the challenges of this scenic nine.

All nine-hole tracts are par 36, combined with any two give you at least 7,100 yards of play, and an 18-hole round is only $34/weekdays and $40/weekends and holidays. As usual, No. 19 awaits you to sample a well-deserved beverage or entrée at the Eagle's Nest Restaurant. The vistas from every hole at Isleta Eagle fill your eyes and your soul with Mother Nature's beauty, found only in New Mexico. From the Rio Grande Bosque, to the peaks of the Sandia Mountains, you are surrounded by breathtaking nature as only New Mexico golf can offer at a price well worth the trip.

After walking off the 18th green, or sampling the 19th hole's amenities, Albuquerque has more to offer. Cultural events, unique shopping at the Plaza in Old Town, exquisite dining options, outdoor sightseeing and recreational opportunities are endless. The rich history and culture of this area is chronicled with old-time gunfights in historic Old Town, at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, and at the well-known Kodak Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, and this only touches the surface of what this great area offers.

If you stop in Albuquerque, you need to take the next step and sample more southwestern flavors and culture by visiting and staying at the capital city of Santa Fe, a short hour's drive north.

Make your first stop the historic Plaza. Many of the finest artisans congregate in Santa Fe at the well-known Plaza and your eyes will feast the wonders of New Mexico in the language of art as displayed in the numerous museums, shops and galleries here.

Old Santa Fe Trail runs south of the Plaza, beginning at the notable La Fonda Hotel. Politicians, movie stars and royalty have gathered here since the hotel was rebuilt in 1922, although it traces its roots back to a small inn in 1607. Order a margarita at their La Fiesta Lounge, and sit back and enjoy live entertainment and dancing nightly. La Fonda is located on the southeast corner of the Plaza.

Hotel Loretto presents another captivating view of New Mexico's warmth and distinctive style and is also within walking distance of the Plaza. Ask about the "miraculous" staircase in the renowned Loretta Chapel and be prepared to be astounded. Vibrant textures, hand carved wood furnishings and authentic Native American art speak volumes of the rich history that surrounds Santa Fe and found at Hotel Loretto. Begin your evening out in Hotel Loretto's cozy lounge, kicking back and listening to the soothing southwestern-style compositions as created and played by Ramon Bermudez, Jr. (www.ramonbermudez.com), as only Ramon can do. Nellie's offers southwestern cuisine to die for in an elegant atmosphere guaranteed to chase all the working blues out of your system.

For those like me that enjoy the pampering of a bed and breakfast, Dos Casas Viejas is the only place to stay. Unsurpassed New Mexico hospitality awaits you in these ten private casitas located behind adobe walls on an exquisite half-acre hideaway in the heart of Santa Fe. Innkeepers Susan and Michael Strijek welcome you to their southwestern haven and their casitas include private patios, kiva fireplaces, private baths, gourmet continental breakfast and free on-premises parking with all the amenities of a hotel. The best reason to stay at this B&B is that Michael is a golfer and will gladly share his area course favorites.

Santa Fe offers a variety of play, starting with just a few miles south of historic Santa Fe at Quail Run, a challenging 9-hole course for those with limited time. For a challenging18-hole rounds, Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe offers spectacular views of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, Sandia and Ortiz mountain ranges from its 7,415 yards of long, concave fairways with lightly undulating mid-sized greens. And you don't want to leave Santa Fe without playing the Jack Nicklaus-designed 18-hole course north of town, Las Campanas.

Visitors to New Mexico leave with an unmatched appreciation for the vivid natural beauty of the Land of Enchantment and the desire to return and repeat the experience as soon as possible. So, whether you're planning a unique golf vacation or stopping off on a business trip, Albuquerque and Santa Fe offer up consummate southwestern culture, history, cuisine and some of the best golf New Mexico has to offer.

Places to Play in Albuquerque

Isleta Eagle Golf Course
4001 Highway 47 SE
Albuquerque, NM 87105
Phone:(505) 869-0950

Paradise Hills Golf Course
10035 Country Club Lane NW
Albuquerque, NM 87114
Phone: (505) 898-7001

Tierra del Sol Golf Course
1000 Golf Course Road
Belen, NM 87002
Phone: (505) 865-5056

Championship Course
At the University of New Mexico
3601 University Boulevard SE
Albuquerque, NM 87131
Phone: (505) 277-4546

Places to Play in Santa Fe

Las Campanas Santa Fe
3218 Camino La Tierra
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Phone: (505) 989-8877

Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe
Caja del Rio Recreation Complex
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Phone: (505) 438-5200

Quail Run
3101 Old Pecos Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Phone: (505) 986-2255

Places to Stay in Santa Fe

Dos Casas Viejas
A Luxury Inn
610 Agua Fria Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Phone: (505) 983-1636
Web: www.doscasaviejas.com
Email: doscasas@rt66.com

Historic La Fonda Hotel
100 E. San Francisco
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Phone: (505) 982-5511

Hotel Loretto
211 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Phone: (505) 988-5531
(800) 727-5531

Diana Rowe MartinezDiana Rowe Martinez, Contributor

A Denver-based freelance writer, Diana Rowe Martinez is a member of Colorado Travel Writers and writes for other publications, both print and online, in the industries of travel, nonfiction, and business. She writes a monthly column for a Denver based newspaper, Singles Entertainment.

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