The Championship Golf Course at the University of New Mexico has held a position of prominence in the Southwest since opening in 1967. The layout is a Robert (Red) Lawrence design that makes use of the naturally hilly terrain to provide many elevation changes, with wide, rolling fairways that play long and difficult from the tournament tees.
While not considered a true desert course, the course plays at an elevation of 5,300 feet above sea level and winds through some desert-like land that is home to all manner of wildlife - from hawks and owls, to rabbits, roadrunners, and even coyotes on occasion.
The 18-hole, par-72 course plays to 7,324 yards from the Gold tees, and 6,954 from the Blues, which have a USGA rating of 73.2 and a slope rating of 132.
Some of the most noteworthy holes include No. 9, which plays as the #1-handicap hole on the course. This par-5 plays to 573 yards from the Blue tees and features a long, narrow fairway that doglegs right. The key on this hole is staying out of the desert, which is not far from the short grass on either side. Approach shots then play to a narrow green that's 46 yards long and guarded by five bunkers left and right.
Hole No. 11 is a par-3 that plays to 181 yards from the Blue tees and requires an accurate shot to an undulating green that's guarded by water in front and a sand bunker on the right.
Hole No. 14 plays as the #2-handicap hole on the course. This par-5 plays to 545 yards from the Blue tees and features a straight but undulating fairway that may not offer many flat lies. Approach shots are key here, as a narrow, elevated, two-tiered green demands a lofted shot that stops quickly.
Hole No. 15 is a par-4 that plays to only 355 yards from the Blue tees, yet offers significant challenge, especially for first-time visitors to the course. The hole doglegs left around a long, narrow lake, and the tee shot calls for a layup to a fairway that ends about 60 yards short of the green. The difficulty here is that most approach shots are semi-blind and must carry the large trees at the corner of the dogleg to reach a well-bunkered green.
Throughout its existence, the Championship Course has received many awards. Golf & Travel Magazine named it one of the Top 40 Daily Fee Courses in America in 2000-2001, while Golf Digest gave it a 4-Star Award and named it the Fourth Best Course in New Mexico in the same year. In 1999, the New England Financial Journal also named it the #1 College Course Open to Non-Members.
The course has also played host to numerous tournaments, including the William H. Tucker Invitational for more than 34 years, the Dick McGuire Intercollegiate since 1979, as well as many NCAA Golf Championships.
Practice facilities include a large driving range, three practice greens and a unique, 3-hole beginner's course. Golf lessons and custom club fitting are also available at a full-serive golf shop.