Contributed by Stuart Jones
Santa Fe Country Club (Sante Fe, NM)
Par 72 (7,085 yards)
Green Fees: $20 to $44 for 18
The Santa Fe Country Club is a semi-private course roughly eight miles southwest of downtown Santa Fe. It is an older course, the back nine built in the 1940’s and the front nine in the 1960’s. There are five sets of tees ranging from 5,498 to 7,085 yards. The staff at Sante Fe were very friendly and helpful.
I played SFCC in the morning, starting at about 9:30 AM. It was a fairly easy walk with only a couple of long hauls from green to tee, the 9th to the 10th and the 12th to the 13th. These transfers were roughly 100 yards. There is only one steep climb, from the 12th tee to the 12th green, a short uphill par 3. It certainly made sense that the greens and tees were close together, since the course has fixed boundaries and no housing. Spring temps in the 60s make SFCC a nice walk, which will get more difficult during the summer when it heats up to the 90s. There were only two water stations on the course so it is a good idea to pack your own water and refill when possible.
The course resides at approximately 7,000 feet above sea level. I live at 4,600 feet and do aerobic exercise at least five days a week, so the increase in altitude was not as issue. I can see, however, that someone coming from sea level or thereabouts could have some problems walking, especially in the heat of summer. Of course walking Sante Fe for $34.00 midweek is still a lot less stressful than watching your spouse, or significant other, buy jewelery or art in the Plaza or Canyon Road regions of the city. I would rate SFCC a 3.8 out of 4.0 for walkability, but considering an individual’s conditioning and acclimatization to altitude it could range from a 1.0 to 4.0.
In terms of architecture and aesthetics, the course is straight-forward and the scenery is impressive. You can see one or more of the mountain ranges that surround Santa Fe on every hole, and the routing really fits the land as not much earth was moved to build the course. The fairways are tree-lined, the ubiquitous cottonwood from the looks of their early spring leaflessness, and the areas between the fairways are what modern architects like to call “waste areas.” There are some fairly large areas like this on the course and I would attribute their presence to wise water use. Santa Fe is in the middle of a desert and all of the hotels are on a constant water saving regimen. It should not come as a surprise that the members, even 40 to 60 years ago, recognized that it would be much more cost effective to only irrigate the fairway and rough. On most holes there is at least 10 yards of rough and a few trees between the edge of the fairway and the waste areas, so accuracy is rewarded with a more predictable lie. I had a couple of wayward drives but still managed to make par from the bare earth. I would give SFCC a 3.0 out of 4.0 for architecture and aesthetics.
The Santa Fe Country Club is an extremely playable course. The greens are small, in keeping with the age of the course, averaging about 30 yards deep. They seem to be “push-up” greens and all break from back to front. There is one exception, the third green, which was built in the 90’s after a drainage problem developed, according to the assistant pro. It is a more modern green complex and stands out from the rest. If you leave your Sky-Caddie in your hotel room, as I did, have no fear. The sprinkler heads are marked with yardage to the front, center, and middle of each green every 20-25 yards from about 225 yards in. The fairways are narrow, ranging from 22 to 30 yards wide, hence proper alignment is required if the waste areas are to be avoided. The greens were in excellent shape the day I played and I would expect that they would stay that way all summer. This is not a “modern” design and it really is not a course that would impress an aficianado of modern architectual layouts. If you want something that leaps out at you from the design and architecture standpoint, go spend the $80.00 or so at Black Mesa and bring a couple of sleeves of balls with you. At the Santa Fe Country Club it is almost impossible to lose a ball. I give it a 1.5 on the design and architecture scale.
I enjoyed myself immensely and would not hesitate to recommend the Santa Fe Country Club to the touring golfer who likes a pleasant walk and a four hour escape from the galleries of downtown Santa Fe.
Based on The Walking Golfer Course Rating criteria, I would give Sante Fe Country Club an 8.3 out of 10.
Review by Stuart Jones (April, 2009)
The Walking Golfer Course Rating System
Total is out of 10 Points
0 – 4 points – Walkability
0 – 4 points – Architecture and Aesthetics
0 – 2 points – Playability and Strategy