Houston design firm adds another New Mexico stunner

By David R. Holland, Contributor

ESPAÑOLA, N.M. -- The Houston golf course design firm of Finger, Dye and Spann has done it again in the stunning New Mexico high-desert landscape.

Black Mesa Golf Club, located on The Santa Clara Pueblo land, soft-opened nine holes last month through the rugged tan countryside along bluffs, escarpments and rocky ridges north of Santa Fe.

Designer Baxter Spann said it is a "career" site with views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east, Jemez Mountains to the west and Black Mesa perfectly framed through the saddle fairway of No. 10.

Ken Dye of the same design company already has the state's No. 1 and 2 layouts -- Paa-Ko Ridge in Sandia and Piñon Hills in Farmington -- in his portfolio.

Will Black Mesa crack New Mexico's Top Ten? Most likely. Already those in the golf business say it could be the state's toughest layout.

But only time will tell if the intimidating views of a blind tee shot on No. 1 and countless bumps, humps and many false fronts will translate into a course novice golfers will shun.

From the back tees, No. 16, an uphill par 5, has a 260-yard carry to the flat "A" position. Pro Tom Velarde said it already has the moniker "Stairway to Seven". The 17th has another blind approach and the finale has cavernous bunkers falling downward from an elevated green.

Located at 5,400 feet, Black Mesa may only look intimidating. Actually there's only 125 feet of elevation change and 12 of the holes are slightly downhill. The course, as it stands now, will play at 7,359 yards, par 72, has 105 bunkers and many traps are placed where natural arroyos were.

Black Mesa will open all 18 holes next season. It is located 15 minutes north of Towa Golf Resort on U.S. Highway 84/285 near Española on the way to Taos. Call 505-747-8946 for more information.

The Falls Begins Resort Construction

The Falls Golf Club and Resort near New Ulm, in the Houston area, has announced the expansion of on-site lodging facilities and a new conference building. The 7-building addition will include The Inn at The Falls, and completion is set for April 2003.

The Inn will consist of 48 private guest rooms located around the new conference building..

The Falls is known as a great place to escape Houston and unwind from the hassles of the big city. The 18-hole golf course also features two resort swimming pools, tennis courts, fishing pond, pro-shop and clubhouse.

The Falls is truly one of Texas' hidden gems. It is located near New Ulm between Houston and Austin, only 15 miles North of IH-10 at "The Gateway to the Hill Country". Call 800-992-3930 for more information and ask about the special room rate.

Barton Creek's Longhorn Football Special

It's only natural that Barton Creek in Austin would offer a special three-night golf package that coincides with University of Texas football weekends. Legendary coach Darrell Royal can be found in the lobby on most mornings reading the paper and sipping coffee.

Travel golfers can get two rounds on the Lakeside or Crenshaw courses (or pay extra to upgrade to the more renowned Fazio Foothills and Canyons courses). Players also will get a Friday morning breakfast with Mr. Royal himself. Packages start at $187 per night, per person. For more information, call 800-336-6158.

Senior PGA Tour Returning To Austin

The Senior PGA Tour, which was born on Austin's Onion Creek, is returning to the area after a nine-year absence. The Hills of Lakeway will host The Kinko's Classic of Austin and it will be played May 5-11, 2003. The Senior Tour left Austin in 1994 which was the final year of the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf.

A $1.6 million purse will be offered.

This and That

Denton's master-planned Robson Ranch, a community of active adults, now has nine holes open with another nine scheduled to open in the fall. The Robson Ranch Grill, Lounge and Pro Shop are also open.

Hank Haney, the North Texas guru of golf instruction, normally has a busy schedule. But it has really been busy this year as he teamed with Jim Fazio Jr., nephew of Tom, to design Texarkana Golf Ranch Little dirt was moved through the hardwoods of East Texas and along the Lake Bringle shore. Hopes are that the green fees can remain below $40.

Tom Doak was in Lubbock in October to oversee the planting of the greens at Texas Tech's new Jerry S. Rawls Red Raider Golf Course, which includes 2,400 newly planted trees, elevation changes and 10-foot high berms around the perimeters.

Last-minute changes included making the course a par 72. Doak's original routing put it as a par 71, but Tech officials were told by the NCAA that they prefer par-72 layouts for their championship events. Doak changed the second hole into a short par 5, so now, he says, it will be a driver and 8 iron to the green.

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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