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Thursday, March 13, 2008


Sandia Albuquerque

7772 Yds, Par 72, Slope 125, by Scott Miller, who has done many great courses: Couer D'Alene in Idaho; Kierland, Eagle Mountain, and We-Ko-Pa Cholla in Phoenix; Bentwater in Montgomery Texas. If I had to characterize his designs based on that mix, I would say he believes in long, wide-open fairways (so wide they'd make Gary Panks blush), shocking elevation changes when he can get them, tough but straightforward greens -- don't forget Albuquerque is 5000+ ft, so you get a lot more carry than at Phoenix or Houston ground-levels.

When we (Me, Mrs. Cactus, and my Sister) played in March, there was some weird thermal that caused the temperature to stay in the 30s instead of rising up to the low 60s as forecast. Bless those girls, they put on the bulldog, and said "Let's Play" -- I wouldn't have been tooooo disappointed to put it off til a warmer day.

Being so cold, I played the white tees at 6500 yds -- I don't know how hot it would have to get before I'd tee it up from 8000 yds -- with my 4 layers of clothing I didn't feel like I could hardly swing, but the ball flew well. When I was telling Mr Science about it he said, "Maybe you should wear clothes to restrict your swing all the time!" . . . 8^D . . . I was averaging 50 yds more than normal, even so . . . when I could get a downhill, downwind tee shot I mighta hit some 350 (with a little bit of roll): out of the 4 par 5s, I reached one with a 3 wood after a so-so drive; I came up short 20 yds on another with my 3wood with 2 good shots -- that one was 610 yds; I went over the other 2 hitting 7 woods -- I mean d-a-a-a-a-n-g!

The par 3s all seem to be redan style of some reduced sort, this picture of my sister hitting to one shows that, and the snow on the mountains.

I didn't hit a single par3 green, pulled all 4 tee shots left -- then couldn't get up and down from the desert. I figgered that was due to the cold, mostly, robbing me of my "feel", if you know what I mean . . .

There was nothing wrong with those greens tho' they were as hard and smooth as a pool table . . . I didn't make anything all day, but Mrs Cactus was en fuego, making at least 4 from over 10 feet, including 1 from 25 ft, and the ones she missed were kick-ins, aside from her 3putts . . . 8^) . . .

I have entered this course into my Jack Nicklaus 6 PC game, and was impressed all over again how W-i-d-e those fairways are . . . they have a ton of undulation in places, but they're so long that they look flat, sometimes . . . the greens are large but not huge.
I have included #1, #2, #18 as epitomes, but the main reason is that they are the holes I could get to look most like the representations I found on the Sandia Website (click on the orange name at the top of this entry). Then again, I'm not sure how accurate / current some of those illustrations are. For instance, on #18, theres a natural area with small trees on the middle left of the fairway, but in their picture it looks like it's on the right.
The par5s are the r-e-a-l-l-y w-i-d-e fairways but these others are not narrow, neither. I don't remember missing any par4 or par5 fairways, which I attribute to my excellent driving, but the width of the fairways bears repeating -- it's very soothing, especially when you have gusty wind like we had . . . Did I mention it was cold and windy? There is trouble inside some of the fairways, little natural areas with little trees that don't really enter into play unless you have a sort of mis-hit, but they are there . . . just don't be relying on them for shade in the summer . . .
There IS water on a couple of holes, like here on #18 . . . it's awful discouraging to hit a 350 yd drive, but then have it stick on the side of that big mound on the right, instead of rolling on down to the flat. I aimed way right but just like it was a par3, I pulled my 8iron left into the water. In disgust, I half-hearted the following chips & putts for a double bogey, instead of grinding out a bogey.
We were totally knackered after our round, but somehow we mustered our resolve and took it over to Sadie's for some lunch . . . . they were too busy with the crowds from some National Bowling Tournament, so we just fortified ourselves with margaritas, chips & salsa, then went over to Rudy's BBQ for some dinner to go, instead. An entirely satisfactory development.

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