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Monday, September 24, 2007


Santa Ana

7145 Yds, Par 72, Slope 129, by Ken Killian, Albuquerque NM

They Say: "The Santa Ana Golf Club is a daily fee golf course - only one fee for the entire day! The golf course offers the glorious natural splendor of the Santa Ana Pueblo. Located north of Albuquerque, NM and woven through the desert along the Rio Grande, it is surrounded by the grandeur of the Jemez Mountains to the west, the Sangre de Cristos to the north, and the Sandia Mountains immediately east, offering a spectacular view of the 10,000-foot Sandia Peak. Native grasses, subtle mounding and eight crystal-blue lakes will inspire and challenge you to play your best."

Sort of a Desert-links style layout -- no saguaros, of course, but plenty of prickly shrubs and brittle-bush-type infestations in the deep rough . . .

Especially on the first couple of holes. For a starting hole, the par 4 #1 is a potentially grim start . . . that unforgiving cross bunker guarding the inside of the dogleg looks like you ought to be able to drive it easily, but you could go thru the dogleg, too, if you don't bite off enough . . . I hit my drive solidly, but without any tragectory. It plowed right into the mound in front of the trap and ski-ramped over the bunker back into the middle of the fairway, 150yds . . . I need that sort of break on the first hole, or a 1putt, or a chipin, just to get me started off positively. I pulled my choke-down 7iron left and above the hole. My continued consternation at the bad reads I am getting these days with my new glasses required me to 3putt, sort of the anti-break of what I was talking about to get me started.

#2 doesn't seem anymore open, and indeed for me it was not: I solidly hit my drive with the right tragectory into the trap on the right on the 2nd bounce. Even as I grumbled about the unfairness of the hole, I felt optimistic: fairway bunker shots is something I do well. I hit a high 6iron fade 160 yds, into the wind, over a tree, onto the green: my ballmark was a foot from the hole; my ball, 18 inches. That was ONE putt I couldn't misread.

Then I settled back into my 3putt-bogey mode -- but it's not just the 3putts, its all the missed 1putts that rankles. Especially after scrambling well -- I was in fairway bunkers on 4, 7, & 9, too, but hit good shots out of all of them, so the poor putting really rankled.

The par 4 #6 deceives in a MacKensien way: from the tee all you can see is brush and the water on the left, which makes you want to hit it right -- into the other water hazard you can't see. I deduced all this and tried to keep my drive left, but missed, but that was alright because the alignment of the fairway to the tee was more right bound than I imagined, so I wound up in the middle of the fairway 115 yds away. That's a standard half-9 for me, I hit it all the time, very confidently, but it felt "wrong" when I hit it, and I couldn't pick up the ball flight with a typical 9iron tragectory, but I saw it when it bounced in the middle of the green. Apparently it had some serious pull-slice on it, cuz it was going sideways with the wind at that point, which was perfect for the pin tucked away in the back right corner. I only had 12 feet for a birdie, but I left it 3 ft short, then pulled the par putt. A real molar grinder.

The par 5 #8 is a monster 633 yards. My first shot didn't even reach the fairway. It hadn't felt solid, so I wasn't surprised, nor pleased, but gauging by the GPS in the cart, my drive went 240, it's just kinda far. My ball was kind of teed up in the rough with an uphill lie, so I gave a smooth swing to a 5wood, just trying to get back into position: a great, high, majestic shot, but it left me still 190 yds to an uphill, elevated green. Really, you'd think after 600 yds, the architect would give you half-a-break with the green complex, but this was a booger, with multiple tiers and a drop of a few feet from back edge to front. 6 Felt like a good score.

The par 4 #10, #1 on the Star Course, has kind of an awkward, linkstyle appearance from the tee, but it's all mind games. There's not much really going on . . . course I am able to say that because I hit my unrehearsed half-5 167 yds to right below the hole. Another unmissable, kickin birdie . . . I could get use to this . . .

I think the Star is a little inferior to the other 2nines, just a little more open. I finished 42-41=83, with the two birdies, the first time I've met my quota in several rounds.

This is a great course, in a great site.

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