Paa-Ko Ridge (1st & 2nd) - New Mexico - USA

Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club,
1 Clubhouse Drive,
Sandia Park,
New Mexico 87047,

  • +1 (0) 866 898 5987

  • Golf Club Website

  • 20 Minutes from Albuquerque

  • Welcome - contact in advance. Closed Dec - Feb

  • Not known

  • Ken Dye (Finger Dye Spann)

  • Not known

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.

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Reviews for Paa-Ko Ridge (1st & 2nd)

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Description: Designed by the Finger Dye Spann firm of architects, Paa-Ko – meaning the root of the cottonwood tree in ancient Pueblo – is undoubtedly one of New Mexico’s finest golf courses... Rating: 7 out of 10 Reviews: 4
Mark White

Paako Ridge, designed by Ken Dye, is often rated as the number one course in New Mexico. I personally preferred Black Mesa due to its more quirkiness of the semi-blind tee shots and the character of the greens. But I can see why others lean towards Paako Ridge because it is more traditional. I can only recall one semi-blind tee shot which is the final hole of the second nine named “Trails End” whereas Black Mesa has several. In addition, Paako Ridge presents itself as more of a championship test due to its length of nearly 7600 yards from its Black tees.

Both courses offer magnificent views from the course. In the case of Paako Ridge, the views are of high mountains heavily lined with trees. The views do not seem to go as far in the distance as they do from Black Mesa, but they are splendid. One also sees nearby houses from Paako Ridge, as it is built around a housing community, whereas at Black Mesa one sees only a few collections of small buildings/houses. However, the houses are never intrusive and do not detract from the experience.

Paako Ridge’s greens are not overly undulating but are more defined by tiers and plateaus. The most amazing green is the fourth, a mid-length par 3 that is likely more than 80 yards long with a 5 feet tier about a third of the way into the green. The greens do not feature sharp false fronts but they do have a fair number of sharp fall-offs on one side. I did not see the greens at their best as the front nine was punched a few days before playing and the back nine were top-dressed. We did see some of our putts go airborne off the strike as well as roll in different directions depending on the bump or grain they hit. We obviously had to hit putts harder even if going downhill.

The bunkering is not overly done and is never too deep as to make one feel a recovery shot is impossible. The fairway bunkers are placed strategically guiding one to one side or the other, except for longer hitters who can ignore some of them.

Many of the fairways have some interesting rolls in them adding to the experience but never truly resulting in an uncomfortable or uneven stance.

It begins with a gentle, flat starting hole with the green set off to the left side. The green is well protected by two bunkers on the right side and a long, think one down the left. There is a bulge on the back left of the green that would be a difficult location.

I liked the short second hole where the green seem to make the hole bend to the right but actually one needs to stay left off the tee for a direct line into the green. The second shot has to navigate a wide wash area. The green is long and thin with double bunkers protecting both fronts. There is also good mounding on the left side of this tiered green.

The third is a long par 5 that moves to the left although the tee shot is out to the right of the collection of three bunkers. The green is placed off to the left as well as angled to the left and placed on a rise with another collection of three bunkers on the front right. It is a good hole with a fairly straightforward green offering a birdie chance.

The fourth is the first par 3 with a very long green with two bunkers on the left side where the 5 feet high ridge is located. You play over a wash/rough area. I had joined two friends where one hit his ball into the wash, declared a provisional, hit his third into the rise on the green which backed up and went into the hole. He said he made a par. Unfortunately he then decided to walk through the wash and found his original ball, but did not play it since he had made par. Mmmmmm, he never should have looked for it. I liked the uniqueness of the hole.

Five is a shorter par 5 moving to the right where the only concern is for the shorter hitter down the right side of the second shot is a wide wash area that one needs to carry. Otherwise the defense of the hole is at the green where there are seven bunkers with the first beginning about 50 yards short of the green. The green is set well off to the right making the right side bunkers becoming fronting bunkers that need to be carried. The green is a good one with a central spine and several different levels.

Six is perhaps the worst hole on the course, a short par 4 of 330 yards from the Black tee to a green placed on slightly higher ground where there are six bunkers designed to protect the hole. This is the rare green with somewhat of a false front. One can easily play short of the early bunkers and still only have an 80 yard wedge into the front of the green.

Seven is the number one index on the course, a long par 4, where the hole sharply turns to the left. You play from an elevated tee so one can get a favorable roll-out from the tee.

Eight is a longer par 3 protected by similar bunker patterning on both sides, one large bunker and a small pot-like bunker.

Nine is the only hole with water in play, more so for the longer hitters off the tee. The pond is on the right side of the fairway beginning after a long fairway bunker. The green is set hard against the water on the right but is a relatively benign green.

The back nine kicks off with one of the better holes with the hole bending left, separating by a wash, and the green placed on a rise. There are three bunkers down the right side set well below the green. This green is one of the more undulating greens on the course.

Eleven is a longer par 4 double dogleg with a green angled away from the second dogleg. The hole is mainly defined by its length.

The twelfth is a longer par 5 and is probably the most heavily bunkered holes on the two nines that I played with a total of eight. You play left off the tee then back to the right. The bunkers then begin about fifty yards short of the elevated green. I liked the hole.

Thirteen is a shorter par 4 bending right but most players can make the corner and have a straight look into a thinner green.

Fourteen is a long par3, reaching 271 yards from the Black tee although playing downhill. I did like the interior movement of this green.

The longest par 5 comes next at 640 yards from the Black tee. This hole seemed to go forever from the elevated tee, moving to the right, then right again with the green having a pond behind it and down half of its left side. I played the hole poorly but did like the shape of it as well as the green.

Sixteen can play as long as 230 yards or as short as 154 yards depending on the tee. You play over a pond with the green protected on its right and rear by three bunkers. We had a right hole location making the hole play much easier than the left side location.

Seventeen is a mid-length par 4 playing straight. The hole is defined by various ridges going down the right center of the fairway.

Eighteen plays to a fairway set out to the right. This long par 4 also plays from an elevated tee. Balls hit down the right side can run through the fairway into trees or two bunkers. The fairway is then split by a wash about 130 yards from the green. Those going left from the tee can find the wash as its cuts diagonally left to right across the fairway. The green is well protected by several front, large bunkers and one at the rear. This larger green also has good inner movement. It is a fine hole to end the round.

PaaKo Ridge is certainly worthy of its inclusion of being in the top 100 public golf courses in the USA. While I do not consider it to be the number one course in New Mexico, I would not argue hard against those who have it as the best. It really depends on one’s preferences. If one finds themselves in the Albuquerque area, it is a course very much worth playing.

November 06, 2021
7 / 10
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Jeff Kissel
November 08, 2021

Credit to you, Mark, for using the proper branding. I was scolded via Instagram for continuing to use the hyphen when they had dropped it.

James Owens

What's really new under the sun?

Well Pa-Ko Ridge Golf Club is new. The residential site is a pleasant thirty five minute drive from Albuquerque. The completely revitalized and revamped and re energized twenty seven (27) hole layout affiliated with Paa Ko Ridge is new.

We spent the middle of our week, traipsing hill and dale, over the beautifully appointed, prudently cleared, and manicured tee boxes, fairways and greens of the recently reseeded track. If the plant life could express the emotion of appreciation, every blade of grass, and fairway would be applauding the delicate care given each plant since 2018. The course, purchased in March, 2018 by AM Development Group has undergone hard scape, clearing and re seeding, it has not seen since its inception as a Roger Cox property in 2000. The course, in Pat Fogarty's words, originally was designed to attract home site sales, and though the level of development has been brisk, (there are 700 hundred lots/homeowners in the Paa-Ko region), the shining jewel, is the revitalized Ken Dye golf course. It appears as if every pinon tree has been pruned and shaped to allow maximum exposure and maximum player enjoyment. Paa Ko, in some circles the #50 best Public Course in America, is evolving into a destination for the Santa Fe travel crowd. Though the crowning jewels are the elevated tee boxes on #17 into the yawning valley of the 474 yard #2 handicap hole on the course, the biggest take away for the golf patron may well be the restaurant. A simple, and practically priced luncheon menu sprinkled with New Mexico and American fare yields to a dinner menu that is exotic.

We chose the "505" - a greenchile turkey sandwich served with onions and a generous portion of freshly skinned potato fries, and an energy salad. What I most appreciated was the pace of lunch, which coupled with the unhurried pace of play, made for a most enjoyable four hour outing. For the better part of 15 holes, no other golf group was in sight.

Play is wide open here, and unlike in town Albuquerque clubs, tee times are available on a walk up basis. Each day we played this week, we teed off, well over fifty minutes after our designated tee time, to take advantage of the practice range. This was in fact encouraged by Fogarty. The course looks refurbished from the start, as the first fairway gleams with a brushed carpet design, if you will. You are forever, it seems, hitting into Ken Dye elevated greens, but at 7,562 yards from the Championship Tees, and 6,210 yards from the brown tees, the course in the words of our beloved Notay Begay, " you what you deserve." There are wide varieties of challenges. There is a 183 yard par three (the 4th), which has a football field sized three tiered green. The two par fives on the front side may require 210 yard carries up the hills followed by generous fairway second shots to Gap wedge range landing areas and an elevated green protected right and left by carefully manicured bunkers. The up hill drives begin from coves of ponderosa, scrub oak, and pinon trees. The course, and each hole, has a variety of options which leave you absorbed in your next shot for four, quality hours.

Among our most enjoyable moments were standing on the tee boxes, and choosing between hybrids and long irons, on the par three's. Each of the four par threes are considerably long, culminating in the 265 and 272 yard par three 8th and 14th, respectively. But the length is compensated for by a manageable layout which is wide open, descending into a valley, and thoughtfully contoured. Gone is the brackish rough that swallowed golf balls a few feet off the fairways.

There is water here on two holes, if my recollection is correct, both on the back nine - at the par three sixteenth and the par four seventeenth. Keep in mind, at 7,000 feet elevation at some points, there is a considerable boost in yardage for well struck balls due to the elevation.

There are many enjoyable aspects to Paa Ko which has evolved in the past two years into a radically golf friendly destination. But here where the average high temperature tops out at 93 degrees in the summer months, before dropping 6 - 10 degrees each Fall month, before settling into a high of 50 degrees come December, there are over 300 sunny days.

The new management team is led by an affable irishman - General manager Pat Fogarty. Pat Fogarty hails from deep in the skyscraper canyons of Madison Avenue and has deep real estate development roots. Ron Vallet, the Golf Course Superintendent, is one of the few men who have been at Paa Ko since the start. He is credited for overseeing the re seeding of fairways and greens, which dramatically alter the shot by shot enjoyment.

We will post additional information and comments on this blog, but wanted to post our initial impressions before we got too deep into the summer months. Here, at Paa Ko Ridge the temperature is between 7 and 9 degrees cooler than Albuquerque. The Course can be reached almost as easily on Highway 14 through the mining and art community of Madrid from Santa Fe., as it is from the 30 mile drive from Andaluz Hotel in Albuquerque.

For a variety of reasons, you owe it to your self and your best golf buddies, to play uncluttered, unobstructed high end golf at Paa Ko Ridge Golf Club. Another feature we will be writing about in the future is the Spirt Dinners each Friday - a five course meal from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm each Friday evening on the outdoor patio. The caliber of food, and entries and liquor is worth an evening drive into the east mountains, alone.

It has been many decades, since an elevated dining experience could be found in the East Mountains. Paa-Ko Ridge assures it is here to stay!

Do yourself a favor, and come play.

The course will be featured in a "Golf Oklahoma" Magazine article in the coming months.

Be sure to see our complete review in New Mexico Sports Enchantment. com.

June 13, 2020
9 / 10
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M. James Ward

The main reason why Paa-Ko Ridge has attained a number one position for all courses in New Mexico rests squarely on how high a value far too many people place on off-course scenery. The course is situated in the Sandia mountains that adjoin Albuquerque and making the trek from the city to the site is a fun drive. When you arrive the fresh scent of the towering ponderosa pines with juniper and pinon mixed in and you encounter a site free of any interfering clutter really makes for what should have been a glorious round of golf.

Sadly, Paa-Ko Ridge is the golf equivalent of the restaurant that provides the perfect setting yet when the food is brought out you scratch your head in bewilderment -- is that all there is?

Let me point out that if one were to take architect Ken Dye's Red Hawk layout in Las Cruces and hook it up against Paa-Ko the former would easily rate higher from a substance standpoint. Paa-Ko has 27-holes and frankly the two best nines are the 2nd and 3rd nines. Even if one were to go this route with a new combination the sum total of what Paa-Ko provides is simply lacking in overall consistency in terms of the holes one encounters.

Dye has a tendency -- at times -- to overdo his hand and you see that with a few of the putting surfaces at Paa-Ko. The par-3 4th on #1 plays 183 yards but sports an inane extremely lengthy three-tier green that clearly overpowers the naturalness of the location. You also have holes that stand apart from the profound contributions Mother nature has created -- the short par-4 6th on #1 and the long dog-leg left par-4 7th also on #1 are other clear examples of where man's hand is too obvious.

The totality of holes on #2 are a good bit better. I truly liked the downhill par-5 15th which tempts the big drive and then for those who have dared and been successful tempts the boldest of plays to reach the green in two shots with a play over a series of trees protecting the right side. The green is neatly situated with a pond that forms the rear boundary.

#1 and #2 at Paa-Ko also lack a first rate quartet of par-3 holes respectively. With the exception of the aforementioned 4th on #1 the others are excessively long -- with the 8th and 14th stretching beyond 260 yards. The lone bright spot comes with the par-3 16th on #2 which requires a skilled shot to a diagonally angled green with a frontal pond awaiting those failing to execute.

The best of the holes comes late in the round with the hilltop tee pad at the enchanting par-4 17th -- but here it's more about the view than anything else. Fortunately, the ending hole -- a par-4 of 474 yards -- is what Paa-Ko should have had more on the menu. The tee shot requires serious thought on the merits of hitting driver to a fairway that tapers down considerably. Those who risk the bold play can reap a major dividend with a short iron into the green. Those failing -- will quickly hear from their playing companions the most dreaded words in golf -- "reload." The 18th is about quintessential decision-making and execution -- placing the tee shot and delivering on the approach.

The better combination of nines for visitors is playing #2 and #3. The #3 nine provides for a far more robust routing -- whereby #1 and #2 follows a general west/east, east/west direction. The main issue with #3 is that there's an equal number of par-3, par-4 and par-5 holes. When this happens the substance of the par-4 holes is often compromised and that is true here. Again, it would have helped matters for the inclusion of a dynamic short par-4 and par-3 in the routing too.

As I said at the outset, a visit to Paa-Ko Ridge during prime time playing conditions will make for a grand time if celebrating the outdoors is central to your needs with golf included. But if you are the golf architecture connoisseur who places a much higher premier on overall shotmaking and hole differentiation you will likely leave feeling that something far more compelling could and should have been brought to life on this site.

M. James Ward

March 31, 2020
6 / 10
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Steve MacQuarrie

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.

September 28, 2017
6 / 10
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