Albuquerque’s high-desert climate and sunny turquoise skies make golfing a year-round pleasure, and diverse course terrains here include desert, parkland, and mountain settings. Course designers take advantage of the natural beauty of New Mexico’s rich landscapes, leading players through features (and obstacles!) that don’t let you forget you’re in the Land of Enchantment, whether you’re navigating arroyos, forestry, mountain foothills, rugged rock mesas, rolling hills, the riverside cottonwood bosque, or crystal blue lakes. Spectacular big sky views of the Sandias and the Rio Grande valley are a given, as well as distractingly gorgeous sunsets. Those courses that wind their way across ancestral Native American Pueblo lands have a special touch of atmospheric magic. As icing on the cake, visitors are often surprised by the highly competitive greens fees compared to courses of equal quality in other parts of the country.
Albuquerque courses have garnered numerous accolades from golf and travel media, consistently appearing in “best of” national rankings and readers’ choice selections. In Golfweek’s 2009 selection of Best Courses You Can Play in New Mexico, four of the top six public-access courses are in the Albuquerque area and are listed in this chapter: Paa-Ko Ridge, Twin Warriors, University of New Mexico Championship, and Sandia Golf Club. Among the many shiny virtual trophies on local courses’ shelves, Paa-Ko Ridge crops up regularly in Golfweek’s Best Modern Courses selections, and Sandia Golf Club was listed in Golfweek’s 2009 Best Resort Courses. Golf Digest ranked Twin Warriors, Sandia Golf Club, and Santa Ana Golf Club in its 2007 Top 40 Casino Golf Courses. There are courses here suited to all skill levels and also plenty of choices for practice facilities.
The reliable and temperate weather is another ace in the hole for Albuquerque golfers. You can count on 310 days of sunshine a year, but even in high summer the elevation keeps temperatures pleasant, and low humidity also helps golfers stay comfortable. The higher the course elevation, the lower the temperature, and mornings are also substantially cooler. The long peak golf season is April to October, but play continues through all four seasons. Winter temperatures average a 50°F high, under dazzling blue skies.
Greens fees for the privately owned courses listed below, all of which are open to the public and require no membership, are very accessible. Fees for an 18-hole round start under $50 and max out at around $100, but rates fluctuate according to the time of year and day of the week. Fees sometimes include a golf cart or other benefits, so check what’s included in your price comparisons to make sure you’re not comparing apples with oranges! The City of Albuquerque’s municipal courses are even more affordable, costing in the twenties per round. Discounts are available at many courses for seniors, juniors, afternoon or twilight rounds, and New Mexico residents. Most courses also offer annual passes. Naturally, greens fees are lower for a 9-hole game. If you’re on a budget, then with some canny planning to pick your day and tee time, you can probably afford to take a swing at every one of the superb courses in the Albuquerque area. If you’re flying through Duke City without your gear, golf clubs are available for rent at most venues. All the facilities listed here prohibit metal spiked shoes. Men’s and women’s dress codes vary, so check with the club, although in general cutoffs, tank tops, gym shorts, and any kind of tattered garments are not considered appropriate golf attire. Although most courses are open daily, year-round, there may be occasional closures due to bad weather or for tournaments.