Pinon Hills Golf Course in Farmington, New Mexico - Rated the #1 Municipal Golf Course in the Country by Golf Digest in 2002
Pinon Hills Golf Course is situated among the mesas, arroyos, scenic rock outcroppings, and sandstone hills of New Mexico. A Ken Dye design, the championship-caliber course was immediately recognized at its opening in 1989 as one of the best new desert golf courses in the nation, and was even acclaimed by Golf Digest in 2002 as the #1 municipal golf course in the country.
The 18-hole, par-72 course plays to 7,249 yards from the longest tees, with a USGA rating of 74.3 and a slope rating of 140, but a much more manageable 6,240 yards from the Middle (White) tees on Rye grass. The high-desert atmosphere also helps the ball travel farther than at sea level, lessening the course's length.
The layout features a number of Dye trademarks in its design, including modern golf course architecture elements such as large, terraced greens, yawning grass bunkers and sculptured, winding fairways. Other Dye design elements include mounding, collection caverns, and heavily contoured, elevated greens that punish missed approach shots with deep bunkers or depressions.
At its core, Pinon Hills is a desert course and sandstone formations, mesas (broad, flat-topped elevation with sheer sides), scenic arroyos (dry gullies) and the area's native, gnarled pinons and junipers give the course a "wild west'' look. There are also sandstone canyons to be traversed, lovely ponds and exposed rocks to be found.
Since its opening, the course has undergone some changes, including switching the front and back nines. Some of the most noteworthy holes on the revamped layout include Hole No. 6. This hole is said to be a "gem,'' and is also one of the most-photographed on the course.
A long par-3, the hole plays to 228 yards and sits in its own canyon, surrounded by rugged boulders, sandstone heights and a sand wash that snakes along the left side. Tee shots take aim at a heart-shaped green, backed by more boulders and rocky pinnacles that will have golf balls bouncing like crazy on shots that go long.
No. 8 was formerly Hole No. 17, and is a long par-5 that plays to 540 yards. The hole doglegs left and calls for a straight drive off the tee to avoid the grass bunkers on the right corner. Shots that go left will find trouble in the trees, while second shots take aim at a generous landing area. From there, approach shots must reach what's been called a "treacherous'' green flanked by sand on the left.
Pinon Hills has been accorded many accolades over the years, and has been almost legendary for its affordable excellence. In the late 1990s, when the course could be played for as little as $11, it was called by some "the best golf course in the world for a dirt-cheap price.'' Those prices are long gone, but the course has still been ranked as high as No. 8 on the list of 50 Best Courses for Under $50.
Practice facilities at Pinon Hills including a practice range, and putting and chipping greens. Lessons are also available, as well as a Pro Shop with custom club fitting and club rental. There's also a snack bar and the Grill on the Hill restaurant, which offers a full menu for breakfast and lunch.
Read about other Farmington tourist attractions:
- B-Square Ranch - Farmington, New Mexico - Experimental Farm with Two Museums
- Courtyard by Marriott Farmington - Farmington, New Mexico - Golf
- Bisti-De-Na-Zin Wilderness - Farmington, New Mexico - Badlands with Incredible Rock Formations
- Pinon Hills Golf Course - Farmington, New Mexico - Nation-Leading Municipal Golf Course
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