The beauty of the Sandia Golf Club in Albuquerque is immediately striking through the archway of the patio that adjoins the Clubhouse. Distant mountains frame the emerald fairways, while cascading waterfalls, fountains and a pond bring the 18th green to life. To the left is the resort pool complex, busy with kids even on a windy day.
We had played the course once before so we knew we were in for a real treat. What we did not know about Sandia Resort & Casino is that the rooms are fabulous and when facing the course, the wide, open window view is truly a knock out. Luxury comfort and amenities accompany the great view. It’s the little things like shower caps when traveling that define comfort. It’s the big things like robes and slippers that make it a lavish experience.
Even if not staying at the resort, Tues. – Sat. anyone can have the same view from the Bien Shur patio on the 9th floor. On a Monday, we dined at the Council Room on the main floor. The steaks were cooked to perfection. This is chili capital of the west so we indulged in the red chili demi glaze for the steak and green chili mashed potatoes. The kick is a good one without lingering lip heat. Green chili season is July – November when many Arizonans make the 6 hour drive to Albuquerque to purchase a year’s supply for freezing. They are addictive.
So too might be the slot machines. We’re not big gamblers ourselves but a stroll through the casino took a while because of the many game choices and for a Monday evening, it was a happening place.
Managed by OB Sports, Sandia Golf Club is in superior condition with lovely high desert flora that should be avoided in the summer since snakes are as active as the bunnies, coyotes and roadrunners, just like at home. Views of Sandia Peak, surrounding mountains and the Rio Grand are serene. In spots it seems as though you can see all the way to Santa Fe. Our golf partners were very helpful with course knowledge. John from Buffalo plays while his wife acts as an extra in the numerous movies filmed in Albuquerque, currently a documentary, “Waco.” Scott Miller designed a track at Sandia that covers the gamut of elevation, forced carries and power chutes along natural contouring. Special attention to prevailing winds is paramount. We love it!
There is much to do around Albuquerque besides golf. Take the Historic Old Town Trolley first for an entertaining open-air introduction to all the neighborhoods and sites to decide which you want to explore in detail. Starting in the plaza, it tours along the historic Route 66, noting preservation of architecture in theaters and gas station conversions to diners, Bart Prince’s fantastical designed spaceship featured on Extreme Homes, a castle and elephant sightings by the zoo.
The Petro glyph National Park and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center show off Native American lifestyles. Tablao Flamenco delivers interpretive theatrics marrying Spanish tap dancing with graceful yet dramatic moves in response to clapping, Moorish influenced music, singing and Oles.
Albuquerque is the annual spot for the International Balloon Festival in November for good reason. The climate is ideal and the views are surreal over the Rio Grande. Early birds can soar before golf with the Rainbow Ryders. Traditional celebratory toasting is done with local champagne after landing. If you do love ballooning or the idea of it, check out the colorful balloon museum covering the history of use in sports, war and aerospace science.
But wait, there’s more golf to be played. Paa Ko Ridge’s mountain fairways, dense forest canopies, and extreme undulating greens form an optical illusion as slopes mystify the best green interpreters. One might ponder, “How could it break that direction?”
Take a switchback road (not for the car sick passengers) over the Sandia Mountain to the arroyos of Twin Warriors Golf Club. En route, stop for a ride on the longest tram in the world to a height of over 10,000 feet. Summer hiking, winter skiing or relaxing in the restaurant all dish up dramatic scenery. On the western side of Sandia, this Gary Panks signature design with Pinion Pines and Juniper frame the grassy knolls that wind through canyons and hills along the sacred butte known as Tuyuna or “Snakehead.” The whole serpent outline can be seen molten in the rock spanning several holes, another example of Albuquerque’s mystification.