I got up this morning and headed over to Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club in Sandia Park, NM, which is about 20 minutes from Albuquerque. It’s up in the Sandia Mountain area, which turns out to be a great setting for golf.
New Mexico was special on this trip because I purposely planned two days and two rounds at two different courses. In my research, Paa-Ko Ridge and Black Mesa (which I played yesterday) were generally numbers 1 and 2 in the rankings. They both looked like different style courses and I couldn’t decide between the two when planning, so I just chose to do both. Boy am I glad I did!
Paa-Ko Ridge is an entirely different course than Black Mesa. I really liked the ruggedness of Black Mesa (which turns out is more about their struggles in the economy than an intentional rough-around-the-edges “look” according to the starter at Paa-Ko). I absolutely LOVED Paa-Ko Ridge.
If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that I have a special affinity for mountain style courses. This fits that bill with a lot of elevation changes, spectacular views and that calming smell of desert pines framing every hole. The course winds throughout the property with a great variety of holes and plenty of challenges. Most tee boxes are elevated. Most greens are elevated. So most every hole plays down then back up.
I got paired with a couple from Colorado (and yes, they told me all about which courses to play up there when I go through later in the week) and their grandson. We had a lot of fun at a relaxed pace. Teed off just before 9:00 and finished about 1:45. Paa-Ko Ridge has 27 holes. We played 1-18, which I am told is the preferred 18 combo by most. I was originally planning to play all 27 if time provided, but by the time we finished I was wiped out and decided to be satisfied with the 18 great holes I got to play out there. I had a lot of driving to do in the afternoon, so it turned out to be a wise choice.
The course was in excellent condition. The greens seemed a bit dried out, but held shots well enough and rolled true. The fairways and rough were lush. The rough was very deep and very penalizing if you were unfortunate enough to be in it. Only hit into a couple of bunkers and they seemed OK. No qualms with the conditions and the natural beauty of the course is breathtaking. It was a vastly different experience than the rough and tumble layout of Black Mesa, but I am grateful I was able to play both in near-perfect weather.
Some pictures from Paa-Ko Ridge (5/6/12):
The green above is almost 100 yards deep with 3 massive tiers!
After my round, I grabbed a hot dog at the snack bar to get a little food in my belly before hitting the road again. Their restaurant looked to have a bunch of great looking meal options, but I wanted to keep it quick and light. Originally, I had planned to stay in Roswell, NM tonight (just for the heck of it). I would be heading ultimately to Lubbock, TX for golf tomorrow. When I mapped it out, I saw it was about the same whether I went over and down through Amarillo or down and then over through Roswell. I thought Roswell would be an interesting stop since I do enjoy the paranormal oddities.
By not playing all 27, I decided to still go through Roswell, but push all the way through tonight to Lubbock. So that’s where I am sitting now as I write this. The road to Roswell was long and boring. I only went through a couple of tiny towns, which were more run-down/abandoned buildings than signs of any civilization. I drove down the main street of Roswell just looking at the sights. Not as much interesting things as I would have hoped, but plenty of aliens and UFOs on many of the storefronts, so I they definitely embrace the town’s unique history.
I was looking also for a fun place to eat that might have some of that Roswell style. I found a place called Farleys that definitely looked to be the most intriguing. I went in, stood around at the front for about 5 minutes before any host came up to greet me. He seemed confused, but put me in a table off in the corner next to another group of people who seemed to be sitting there for awhile waiting for a waitress. I sat there for almost 10 minutes and nobody came by to recognize my existence. The waitress did come by to take the other group’s drink orders, but never looked at me. And she never seemed to come back to them either, so I just got up and left. It takes a lot to make me walk out of a place, but I wasn’t having it.
Worth noting is that the little staff I did see were wearing “wacky” t-shirts that said “F.U.” in bold letters (as in “Farleys University” for some reason). Turns out it was a fitting slogan for their style of service!
So I started heading out of town on the highway toward Lubbock. Then I saw a building with a sign that looked to be a Mexican food joint. When I looked closely I saw the place was called Margarita’s Mexican & Chinese Restaurant. The parking lot seemed to have plenty of cars, so I jammed on my brakes and pulled in. I had to check it out. Perhaps I had stumbled onto something special in Roswell after all.
They had full menus for both Chinese and Mexican food, and they also had a small buffet with some of both. I just opted for the buffet so I could get a sampling of both. I tried a little of the Chinese food (egg rolls, sweet and sour chicken, etc.) but it wasn’t too enthralling. So I headed back for a plate of the Mexican offerings. Rice, beans and two kinds of enchiladas (red and green). The red ones had ground beef and were quite good (and extremely SPICY), but the green ones (with just cheese filling) were to die for. The place was kind of a dump, but it was worth the experience.
Then I headed east toward Texas on some lonely highway with little signs of civilization until I got closer to Lubbock. It was a long drive, but I made it here. And since I am staying here tonight, I was able to move up my tee time tomorrow at The Rawls Course at Texas Tech from 9:00 to 7:00 (first off the tee). So that will get me out of town quickly because I have a lot of driving to do tomorrow, as well. Also, it appears the forecast is calling for thunderstorms here tomorrow afternoon, so hopefully I can avoid that. It is very windy and eerie here tonight, so we’ll see what it’s like tomorrow!
DAY FOUR: 399.4 Miles
Previous Day: Black Mesa (NM)
Next Day: The Rawls Course at Texas Tech (TX)