SANTA FE, NM - Before Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe opened in 1998, average income golfers in this trendy town didn't have much selection. And beginning golfers were starving for a place to learn and play.
"If you didn't belong to a country club you had to drive all the way to Pueblo de Cochiti (about 35 miles away)," said Ross Nettles, head pro. "But when we opened that unmet demand was met and the beginners love it. We are booked solid from March to November with beginning golf lessons and if it didn't snow around here we could be booked all year."
The City of Santa Fe made all the right decisions in the planning stages of Marty Sanchez. They looked at Piñon Hills in Farmington, designed by Ken Dye, and long considered the best golf course in the state.
They decided they wanted a similar golf course, but with less severe putting surfaces. (Since Marty Sanchez opened, Dye designed Paa-Ko Ridge in the eastern Sandia foothills above Albuquerque, which is now No. 1 in the state.)
So Dye's associate in Finger Dye Spann, Inc. - Baxter Spann, was hired for the job. "Spann designed a great, scenic golf course that is perfect for beginners, but also a stern test from the back tees for experts," Nettles said.
But there's more for the beginner. The Great 28 is a par 28 course with eight par 3s and one par 4. "Our junior program plays there and because it has four sets of tees, even better players can enjoy it," said Nettles. "My wife is a beginner so I go out there with her. From the upper tees there are no obstacles, so you can top it and reach the greens. But from the back tees you have some forced carries."
The rolling hills and piñon-juniper landscape of Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe are surrounded by the Jemez, Sandia, Ortiz and Sangre de Cristo Mountains. There are no houses on the course and the quietness is only disturbed from time to time by "booms" from the nearby Los Alamos testing site.
Located at an elevation of 7,000 feet with 300 days of sunshine each year, the course has hosted as many as 48,000 rounds of golf and about 175 golfers a day even in the winter. There are five sets of tees that play from 5,045 yards off the front tees to 7,415 yards from the back. The greens are bent grass and the fairways Bermuda. More than 50 bunkers will also challenge you.
You will be tested by No. 4, a 245-yard, par 3, with a large lake framing the left side. No. 18 is a 485-yard, downhill par 4, with another huge lake and a very large sand bunker.
The golf course was named in honor of Marty Sanchez, a promising young local golfer, who died of cancer at age 25 in 1992.
Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe
205 Caja del Rio
Sante Fe, NM 87505
Green Fees: Resident, $24 weekend, $19 weekday.
Non-resident, $49 weekend, $49 weekday.
Directions: From I-25, take Exit 276 (Hwy 599) going north for 4.5 miles and make a left on Caja Del Rio, the course is another 1.5 miles ahead on the left.
Chic Santa Fe: It was founded by Spanish missionaries as a northernmost colonial capital in 1609 - 10 years before the Pilgrims reached Plymouth Rock. The city spreads across a high plateau at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and its main architecture remains adobe houses and baroque churches.
Since the 1980s, Santa Fe, population 60,000, has been a chic destination in the USA, consistently voted as one of the country's most popular cities by upmarket travelers and art lovers. More than a million and a half tourists visit here annually.
The Sandhill Crane Bed & Breakfast
389 Camino Hermosa
Corrales, NM 87048
Phone: 505-898-2445 or 800-375-2445
Your host, Margo MacInnes, will welcome you to The Sandhill Crane Bed & Breakfast where you will find an adobe hacienda in rural Corrales, bordering the northwestern edge of Albuquerque. The Rio Grande Bosque is just minutes away and you can relax on the porch and enjoy the cool nights.
A complimentary breakfast served in the dining room or on the terrace includes the best seasonal produce available in the local markets, premier blends of coffee and teas, and freshly-baked breads, waffles or a hearty casserole.
Practice Fac.: A
Clubhouse/Pro Shop: A
Pace of Play: A
Overall Rating: A