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Opinion & Analysis

Review: Paako Ridge Golf Club

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With all that we have gone through this year, I was eagerly looking forward to my time at Paako Ridge golf club in Sandia Park NM-  about 40 miles east of Albuquerque. Paa-Ko is a place that combines the beauty of the southwest with the challenge of a great golf course.

The Ken Dye course is carved into the juniper forests on the east side of the Sandia Mountains. It winds its way through the trees and red rock landscape to present a place that is unlike anything else in the state. I was struck by how amazingly quiet it was. There was no freeway sounds, no aeroplanes flying overhead, and the only thing I heard was the wind making its way through the trees. It was fantastic.

Paako Ridge was built in 2000 and has been consistently ranked as one of the best courses in the state and Golf Advisor rated it #1 in 2017. The course is open March 1st through December 1st but make sure you call ahead; the course is only a short drive to the local ski area and make no mistake they get snow. I also can’t say enough about the staff at this course during my visit.

I not only met the general manager Patrick Fogarty, but many of his grounds crew – they were very kind and very proud of the grounds they worked on. During their morning preparations, I watched them hand rake every bunker. The greens had a team that went to each one, mowed them and then rolled them to perfection.

Paako is not a place you want to just stop by for a quick round; it’s a place to enjoy. Paako Ridge allows you to let go of all of the things we are dealing with in the news and allow yourself time to decompress. It gives you an opportunity to take in the beauty of the southwest and enjoy the game we all love in an amazing setting.

The Albuquerque area sees its biggest tourism during the first full week in October as thousands of people come from all over the world for the International Balloon Fiesta. During this event, they put hundreds of hot air balloons up in the sky, and the colors are amazing. Almost every year it is the most photographed event in the world. Paa-ko ridge would be a great spot if you are coming to town for something like that. If you’re staying in Santé Fe, you can come down highway 14 play a round of golf and then head into the town of Madrid to see some of the spots where movies like Conspiracy, Wild Hogs and the Far Side of Jericho were filmed.

When it came to playing the course it is such a unique layout that you have to take your time and study each hole and think about where you want to place your shot. At 6800 feet above sea level, the ball does go much further, and in some places, a well-hit drive can go through the fairway and into the rough. The rough on this course is sand tree bark and red rocks, not a place you want to hit out of.

The course also offers a wide range of tee boxes to fit any skill level. On two of the holes I played, they had two completely different tee areas. One was a very straight forward par three-shot and the second was a tee box that was about 35 feet above the first and gave you a magnificent view of the hole. The challenge was not to do what I did and take the wrong club and sail it over the green.

The course doesn’t have a ton of water or sand traps that are so deep you need a ladder to get in and out of. What it does have are large greens. At first, that might sound great, but many of the greens have two or three different levels and if your approach shot isn’t on the same one as the hole it is very easy to three-putt or have your ball roll off and onto the fringe.

It’s not a course that won’t give you a chance to play well, but it is a course that will bite you if you are careless. Paako Ridge has hosted US Open senior qualifying and west Texas amateur events so it can hold its own with even the best players.

If anyone is going to make a trip out of the hot, humid weather that many of our great readers live in and get into the dry air of the southwest, then seriously consider this course – I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Breakthrough mental tools to play the golf of your dreams

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Incredibly important talk! A must listen to the words of Dr. Karl Morris, ham-and-egging with the golf imperfections trio. Like listening to top athletes around a campfire. This talk will helps all ages and skills in any sport.

 

 

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On Spec

On Spec: Homa Wins! And how to avoid “paralysis by analysis”!

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This week’s episode covers a wide array of topics from the world of golf including Max Homa’s win on the PGA Tour, golf course architecture, and how to avoid “paralysis by analysis” when it comes to your golf game.

This week’s show also covers the important topic of mental health, with the catalyst for the conversation being a recent interview published by PGA Tour with Bubba Watson and his struggles.

 

 

 

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Opinion & Analysis

A golfing memoir in monthly tokens: February

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As some might say, if you don’t take the plunge, you can’t taste the brine. Others might not say such a thing. I’m taking the plunge because I want to taste the brine.

Here you’ll find the second installment of “A Golfing Memoir” as we trace a year in the life of Flip Hedgebow, itinerant teacher of golf. For January, click here.

He could never explain his given name. Why would a German family name their son “cirE”? Some mistook it for Sire and thought him presumptuous. As a lad, with fingers crossed, he hoped that other kids hadn’t the intellectual gumption to search a Gaelic dictionary, where they would find the translation of … wax.

Why do mothers name their children such odd names, and why don’t fathers object? Flip’s father had made a career of objecting to every sincere and frivolous pursuit the boy had undertaken. Why not object to cirE? Flip stared into the morning sun, preferring the more-than-momentary blindness, and surmised that the old man knew that it was a battle he couldn’t win. Carry this bowling ball around for nine months, pulling on organs, muscles, and bones, and don’t let me pick his name? uh-UH. Stored it all up and took it out on the kid.

Considering the brief nature of February, cirE “Flip” Hedgebow feared that planning was overrated, and that much was beyond his control. He had transitioned many times before, from south to north and from north to south. After a few years, he gave little thought to each move. Yet, despite experience and wisdom, he felt possessed by neither. Flip was not wrong; the turbulence roiled beneath the surface of his calm demeanor. Work a pro shop long enough, and you learn to pass emotional tsunami off as a wink and a nod.  If you can’t, you don’t last.

February was an odd month in the Sunshine state. The amateur snowbirds had departed, and the fairly-experienced ones began to arrive. Difference? Amateurs arrive for the first month of the new year, bask in the warmth, then head home for two or three more months of cold, and get sick. The fairly-experienced brood (usually 4-5 years into retirement or freedom) had figured this out, through pain and suffering. They made their reservations one month later, stunned that time was available for them. There was a reason for that, but Flip wouldn’t consider it for a pair more of fortnights. What the departure of the amateurs meant, was lower revenues, across the board.

Amateur snowbirds bathed in the deceitful glow of recent loosenings. They spent like there was no tomorrow when, for most of them, there were too many tomorrows. Their departure meant that registers wouldn’t ring (his mentor used that expression) like the chapel on Sunday. In the world of cirE, registers were tablets that used Square, and chapels didn’t do business like they did in the past.

The fairly-experienced crowd had settled into a February routine. No longer trying every new thing, they spent their Valentines month in nearly-perfect symmetry. They knew which restaurants to frequent, and which sales would appear in windows, at which appointed hours. Frivolous purchases were no longer their wont, as the writing on the wall began to show in greater clarity. Flip cared nothing of this…he cared about the diminishing returns and the lightening of his pocket clip. This generation suspected that March was the better month for rolling into northern Spring, but those who held those dates, weren’t giving up before a literal fight to the finish. So February it was.

Something else that the February armada offered, was time on the lesson tee. They weren’t giving up on youthful potential and conquest, at least not on the golf course. What they could not offer in the clubs, they could occasionally summon when money was on the line, and that would have to do. The majority of them accosted Flip over matters of distance and new drivers. The savvy ones asked when he could show them a shot or three around the green, or from the trees. If Flip ever had to run a Calcutta to save his life, he lived in the certainty that those savvy ones, those scramblers, would be the ones to back. Since all of them paid, the lesson tee was a bonanza.

No matter the month, Florida was a gold mine compared with New York. No taxes, and even the most frugal snowbird tipped and bought more than folks in rural Empire state. Flip’s nest egg needed to swell a few sizes, like the Grinch’s heart, before April Fools’ Day arrived. Something else that needed to swell, was his peripheral vision. For the second time in as many months, the potency and potential of the red-haired woman escaped his notice, as did the farewell wave she gave to Flip’s next student. Good things come to those who wait, but do they also come to those who miss?

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