The 27-hole Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club is set under the watchful guard of the Sandia Mountains. With three loops of nine holes, there are numerous playing configurations especially when you factor in five different sets of tees on each hole. Choose your tee carefully as this monster stretches out beyond 7,500 yards from the tips.
Holes are routed around arroyos, rocky outcrops and a variety of native vegetation with fairways laid out in quite wooded surroundings at elevations between 6,500 and 7,000 feet above sea level. The original 18-hole course opened in 2000 with the additional nine added five years later.
One of the most difficult holes on the property is the par three 4th – appropriately named “Dye-abolical,” – where the tee shot plays across an arroyo to what's reckoned to be the largest putting surface in the state of New Mexico. As this triple-tiered green measures 100 yards from back to front with a drop of 13 feet in between, pin placement is all important in the quest to secure a score of three or better at this hole.Designed by the Finger Dye Spann firm of architects, Paa-Ko – meaning the root of the cottonwood tree in ancient Pueblo – is undoubtedly New Mexico’s finest course and it’s hard to know which two of the three loops of nine make the better course, so we suggest you play all 27 dramatic holes. We doubt you’ll get better value for money within a 500-mile radius.
Paa-ko Ridge has it all…….all the things I don’t like about much of golf course design in the latter half of the 20th century. Walking is possible, but not recommended. I saw nobody walking the day I was there.) I’m guessing there is around 2 miles of cart path between greens and tees. And in a number of cases the cart path is the only way from the tee to the fairway. This isolation ruins memorability. But that’s not the only memorability problem. Hole after hole starts from an elevated tee and ends at an elevated green. And the elevated greens are all bunkered so that an aerial approach is the only possibility. It seemed to me that a lazy architect had a certain template in mind (elevated green and tee) and if he found a pair far apart from the previous or next hole, so be it. This is quite the antithesis of the minimalist approach which works much harder to find different types of holes that can be connected in a more interesting and memorable way.
And how about a pair of 200+ yard par 3s…………from the forward tees. (237 and 224 from the middle tees) What fun is that? Even with a little help from the altitude.
This is not a poor course. I will acknowledge that the green contours were fun and challenging. But that’s about the only thing that impressed me.