Course Review: Twin Warriors

May 27, 2011

I recently had a chance to visit the beautiful state of New Mexico. Though I went for a much more important reason, that reason understands my obsession with this crazy game, and for some reason, encourages it. Before I get to the specifics of the course, I must say that I could very easily write a “Play of the Week” for the whole state. If you haven’t been, you must go. Green chile, staggering views, a wonderful farmers market in Santa fe, a rustic downtown, and phenomenal weather are a few of the things that await. For golf, this state is a hidden gem. I’ll admit, prior to going, I wasn’t hopeful. When was the last time there was a lush green course out in the desert? (I can hear JK screaming Wolf Creek).

As for Twin Warriors, all I can say is wow. Twin warriors is located about 1/2 way between Albuquerque and Santa Fe just off I-25. This casino course was rated Number 10 on the list of top 40 casino courses by Golf Digest, and recently played host to the US Open qualifier for this area. From the clubhouse to the 18th green, this place lived up to the hype. Here’s the rundown:

Scorecard:

One great thing about casino courses, they almost always have a plethora of tees.
Tips (Tour) – 7736 75.4/140
Championship – 7284 73.5/140
Back – 6715 71.1/136
Resort – 6131 68.9/126 (74.1/133)
Forward – 5100 67.0/116 (Note, the 10th hole plays as a par 3 instead of a par
NOTE: Though these yardages seem extreme, the area is roughly 7,000 feet above sea level, thus the ball flies a little further.

Driving range, full practice facility ($25 daily use fee) with practice bunker, large putting green.

Excellent pro shop with all sorts of Twin Warriors gear and full selection of various brands of clothing.

Though the rate can be as high as $79 to play this track, resort guests and NM residents pay significantly less. I was able to get a tee time as a walk in for $39 (NM rate) at around 3pm. Since the sun goes down around 8, this was certainly early enough to be one of the last groups coming in. This course was also completely empty on a Friday afternoon.

The review:

This course was phenomenal. I played from the tips to get a real feel for this Gary Panks Signature design. The first hole is a 563 yard par 5 that doglegs slightly right. This hole plays directly into a prevailing wind that was blowing about 20 MPH when I teed off. Needless to say, it took a pretty good driver and a perfect three wood to be within chipping distance. Though this course measured 7800 yards, it was very playable from the tips. The elevation change really helps increase distance off the tee, but any mistake is magnified that much more. One problem that I’ve had in the past with desert courses is the need for a “rock” club for those occasions when I’m not lucky enough to find the fairway. No such club was required at Twin Warriors. If you are not fortunate enough to find the grass, you are likely hitting out of the largest bunker you’ve ever been in. The sand was soft and never threatened to dent my beautiful Mizuno irons.

The course itself was very interesting. Though the course sports wide fairways that beg for hard hit drivers, heaven forbid you miss them. When I was playing, the wind made this easier said than done. The wind certainly turned this into a shot-makers course and required you to find the correct level of the green if you had a hope of two-putting. The greens were also in phenomenal condition – probably the best greens I’ve played all year.

As far as the surrounding beauty, well I’ll let you be the judge…

One of the best holes on the course was the Par-3 fourth:

Yes folks, that’s the real hole. This is not a painting, and I have no idea how to use Photoshop. The views on this course are just that good. This photo was taken from the back tee which measures 197 yards. The hole plays directly into the prevailing wind and certainly typifies the “heroic” school of golf course design. I hit a very flush three iron and landed about 20 feet passed the middle right hole location (as per my plan). Once I got on the green, I realized that I had essentially guaranteed myself a bogey with this play because I was on a shelf that dropped 2.5 feet to the hole. I ended up putting sideways to avoid rolling off the green with the direct round and two putted from roughly 15 feet coming back up the hill. Local knowledge would have helped here. By the way, you don’t want to go in the bunker on the right. It’s actually 5-6 feet below the level of the green. See below:

My favorite hole on the course was probably the Par-5 sixteenth. This hole measures a whopping 648 yards from the tips. Fortunately, there is a significant elevation change that is in the player’s favor. I hit driver about 365 yards on a string to have 280 left to the back right pin location. A 3/4 three wood short of a deep collection area short of the green left me about 65 yards in. After a slightly pulled approach, I two putted for a neat little par on this monster of a hole. I must give JK a tip of the cap here: 4 out of the 5 shots that I hit were due to clubs that JK essentially put into my bag.

I must also mention the Par-3 15th. This 244 yard monster was the only hole that I felt was a little too long even from the tips. I hit an 18* hybrid off the tee about as well as I could and was still about 10 yards shy of the green. Though it was more likely that I was just between clubs (between a hybrid and a three wood?!?), this hole just felt a little too long. The part of the green that you actually can see from the tee is quite small and pretty heavily contoured. Also, it is exceedingly punitive if you go over the back of the green (you’re basically over a cliff). One cool thing about this hole, though, is that it is constructed right next to an extinct volcano.

All in all, this track was fantastic. If you get a chance, I highly recommend playing Twin Warriors. Don’t be discouraged by the length either! This course will help you out along the way if you can keep it between the ditches.

Greens: 9/10 (hey, they’re not Augusta)
Fairways: 7/10
Other course maintenance: 7/10
Value: 10/10
Pace of Play: 9/10
Pro shop/clubhouse: 8/10

Overall: 8.5/10

The Verdict: Fantastic casino course. Break out the 100’s boys, we got a track worth gamblin’ on.

This was one other ridiculously cool picture I had to include. One awesome thing about the desert was watching it rain without the rain actually hitting the ground! During my round, however, I was blitzed by a freak rain shower on the 13th green. I was so happy to be out there though, I made my longest putt of the day (17 feet) while it was raining on me sideways!

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3 Responses to “Course Review: Twin Warriors”

  1. JK Says:

    Awesome. Can’t wait to play it.

  2. Karl Ray Says:

    Enjoyed the positive review. Glad you liked the NM golfing. Sorry I was not here more.

    Karl

  3. Karl Ray Says:

    Also, Rachel’s pictures were very good!


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