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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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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Is lighter always longer?

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One of the continuing trends in golf clubs – particularly drivers – is the pursuit of increasingly lighter shafts; this obsessive goal has given us the premise that the lighter the club, the faster you can swing it. And that idea is driven by the relentless pursuit of distance at all levels, and for all golfers.

But as long as he is, for example, Dustin Johnson ran away with the Masters because he was exactly that – a “master” at ball control and precision. DJ outperformed almost everyone in the field in terms of fairways and greens. That gave him more birdie putts, better looks because of his precise approach shots, and many fewer tough par saves.

But my topic today is to pose the question: “Is lighter really the key to being longer for all of us “recreational” golfers?”
Let me begin by saying that “recreational” doesn’t mean any lack of seriousness or dedication to the game. Hitting better shots and shooting lower scores is the goal for all of us who care about our golf games, right? What I mean is that we do not make our living playing the game. We do not practice incessantly. We do not spend hours at the gym every day specifically preparing our bodies to optimize our golf skills.

Today I’m going to put on my “contrarian” cap and challenge this assumption of “lighter is longer” on a couple of bases.
First, if you watch every accomplished player, you will see that the body core rotation is fast enough to “beat” the hands and clubhead to the ball. All instructors agree that the big muscles of the legs and body core are the key to power and repeatability in the golf swing. The faster you can rotate your body through impact, the more power you generate, which flows down the arms, through the hands and shaft and to the clubhead. This is a basic law of “golf swing physics”.

The simple fact is, the speed at which you can fire these big muscles is not going to be measurably impacted by removing another half ounce or less of weight from your driver. But what that removal of weight can do is to possibly allow for your hands to be faster, which would aggravate the problem I see in most mid- to high-handicap players. That problem is that their body core is not leading the swing, but rather it is following the arms and hands through impact.

Secondly, speed without precision is essentially worthless to you, and likely even counter-productive to your goal of playing better golf. Even with the big 460cc drivers, a miss of the sweet spot by just a half inch can cost you 8-12% of your optimum distance. You could never remove enough weight from the driver to increase your club speed by that amount. So, the key to consistently longer drives is to figure out how to make consistently more precise impact with the ball.

No golf adage is always true, but my experience and observation of thousands of golfers indicates to me that the fastest route to better driver distance is to get more precise with your impact and swing path, and not necessarily increasing your clubhead speed. And that may well be served by moving to a slightly heavier driver, not a lighter one.

I’ll end this by offering that this is not an experiment to conduct in a hitting bay with a launch monitor, but rather by playing a few rounds with a driver that is heavier than your current “gamer”.

Continuing with my “contrarian” outlook on many aspects of golf equipment, the typical driver “fitting” is built around an intense session on a launch monitor, where you might hit 30-40 or more drives in an hour or so. But the reality of golf is that your typical round of golf involves only 12-13 drives hit over a four-hour period, each one affected by a number of outside influences. But that’s an article for another time.

For this week, think about pulling an older, heavier driver from your closet or garage and giving it a go for a round or two and see what happens.

I would like to end today’s post by wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. It’s been a helluva year for all of us, so let’s take some time this week to count our individual and collective blessings.

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Podcasts

TG2: Reviewing the first major OEM (Cobra) 3D-printed putter!

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The first major OEM with a 3D printed putter is Cobra Golf! I took the new Limited Edition King Supersport-35 putter out on the course and found it to be a great performer. Cobra partnered with HP and SIK Putters to create a 3D printed body mated to an aluminum face that features SIK’s Descending Loft technology.

 

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Opinion & Analysis

You went to play, now you want to stay: Homes near Cabot Links & Cliffs

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At some point, we’ve all had that moment during a vacation where we look around and think to ourselves, “Instead of visiting, why don’t we just move here?” It always sounds a little crazy in the moment, but really, what’s stopping you?

Like many, I have done this myself, and it leads me down a rabbit hole of golf destination real estate to places all over North America where you get world-class golf minutes from home.

So whether you’re a big spender or looking to downsize and find a cozy hideaway, these homes near Cabot Links & Cliffs have it all.

Homes near Cabot Links & Cliffs

Inverness, Nova Scotia

Steps away

$1,495,000 – 12 Mine Road Inverness MLS Number: 202011562

Location, location, location!

This is currently the most expensive house in Inverness NS, and for good reason. It’s steps away from Cabot Links and overlooks the resort. It’s over 2,600 square feet of beautiful open concept living, and with a local address, you get a discount on tee times at the course, although with its growing popularity, you aren’t guaranteed times like if you stay on the actual property.

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this view every day? Listing: 12 Mine Road – Realtor

Just up the road

$980,000 – 30 Broad Cove Road Inverness, MLS Number: 202010717

If the first one seems a bit crazy, this next one might be right up your alley.

This 4,000 square foot home, is only minutes from Cabot Link and Cliffs and has amazing views that overlook the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It has everything you could want including a large chef’s kitchen and enough room to host friends and family.

Listing: 30 Broad Cove Road – Realtor

Just you and the ocean

$394,000 – 6 Bayberry Road, Port Hood, MLS Number: 202015994

If you like golf but want a little more separation from the Cabot golf resort, less than 20 miles down the road is Port Hood, another quiet seaside town filled with quaint shops and endless views of the ocean.

You can wake up every morning to the sounds of the ocean and the smell of sea air, and when you want to play golf at a top 50 course in the world, you just need to make a relaxing drive along the water to get there—heck, if you are so inclined, and happen to have a boat, you can go almost door to door that way too!

Listing: 6 Bayberry Road – Realtor

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