Laid out on the moonscape of Santa Clara Pueblo, Black Mesa opened in 2003 to plenty of favourable critical acclaim, with one commentator likening the course to Tom Doak’s Pacific Dunes, another terming it “one of the premier American layouts built in the last 25 or 30 years.”
Praise indeed for developer Eddie Peck and the man who brought the course to life, architect Baxter Spann, whose routing of the Black Mesa course was influenced in part a visit to the Tobacco Road course in North Carolina, where he was impressed by the fact that its designer had been prepared to work “'on the edge” to create innovative, non-conventional golf holes.
With fairways that rise and fall between enormous sandstone formations in a remote part of the New Mexican desert, the 80 acres of irrigated turf that make up the Black Mesa course form one of the most spectacular 18-hole layouts that any golfer could imagine anywhere in the world.
Baxter Spann certainly bucked the trend of designing routine, formulaic golf holes and his loose regard of architectural convention has resulted in a wonderfully fresh, creative layout that incorporates an element of random excitement throughout the routing.
As its designer says, “the site has a wild Irish links look to it, particularly in the spring after a wet winter when the native grasses are leafy and blowing in the breeze. In keeping with this spirit, we incorporated some hidden target areas and semi-blind uphill shots which will require some local knowledge and familiarity with the course to negotiate successfully.”
The final routing of the course leaves the possibility of a second 18-hole track to follow in the future but for now, the existing layout is good enough on its own to merit a visit from the more intrepid golfer who might venture to play in this south west corner of the USA.
March 23, 2011