Course Review: The Club at Las Campanas – The Sunrise Course

June 6, 2011

Previously, I had reviewed Twin Warriors in New Mexico.  I now review the Club at Las Campanas – The Sunrise Course.

This was the second course that I had an opportunity to play (in as many days) during my stay in New Mexico.  After subjecting myself to the 7800 yard behemoth that was Twin Warriors, a brisk 7626 yards of Nicklaus’ best work should be no problem, right?  Away we go!

Again, we break with our stated goal of reviewing courses that the average joe can play without paying an arm and a leg by visiting one of the more exclusive clubs in New Mexico (hey, what can I say, if you can get on you’re going to play).  While these courses are private, they have a distinctly resort feel to them.  The drive up to the club house wanders through the prairie and has me wondering why I don’t live out in the desert.  We pass tennis courts, adobe houses, and some of the back nine on two beautiful Jack Nicklaus designs.  The pro shop is WELL apportioned and has a full array of titleist equipment (complete with fitting guy!).  There are at least 10 different brands of clothing, any of which might be at home on the set of caddyshack.  The practice facility was equally well apportioned.  Grass driving range complete with pyramids of Nike practice balls and a LARGE putting green/chipping area with every contour imaginable.  As for the facility:

The facility has two championship layouts.  They were apparently Jack’s 99th and 100th courses respectively.  Each one has a distinct character (the Sunset, I am told is slightly more of a shot makers course, while the Sunrise is the bombers course).   On advice of the member who some how finagled me into the line-up,  I played the Sunrise Course.  Here are the stats:

The Club at Las Campanas – The Sunrise Course:
Green Tees (Tips) 7626, 73.9/132
Gold Tees 7033, 71.0/130
Blue Tees 6462, 69.3/124
White Tees 5928, 66.4/114 (M); 71.9/132 (W)
Red Tees 5029, 66.6/120

Because we so rarely have the time to write reviews these days here at the PF, we choose to write about winners.  The Sunrise Course was precisely that.  Though it listed shorter than Twin Warriors, it was certainly the more interesting of the two courses.  Jack has made use of elevation change in the middle of the prairie in ways that I thought unimaginable.  There were also blind drives that were rewarded by big drives and aggressive lines.  See for example, the split fairway on the 9th hole.

One thing about Jack’s designs that I found to be particularly true here though was that if you miss left, you were generally able to recover.  Another truism of Jack’s designs is that if you are having a “loose” iron play day, you will feel the burn of the course.  Thankfully, however, I was fortunate to be having a nice ball striking day.  with a 42-44 = 86,  I was more than pleased with my play from the Green Tees.  Though my lone birdie of the day came on the 10th hole after a long drive, long three wood and chip sideways onto the tiny, well bunkered green; my favorite hole of the course was the par 3 twelfth.

The twelfth (yardage guide and picture above from the tee) measures a stout 247 yards from the Green Tee.  This monster of a par 3 affords very little in the way of forgiveness.  Water left, bunkering right, and the only real bailout short into a collection area make this truly a “heroic” school of design hole.  Oh, lets not forget the head wind.  As if this beast was not enough pressure on its own, two of the cart boys had made their way down to watch me tee off.   I guess it is rare for them to see new blood around this course (much less anyone that could reasonably be called “new”).  I carefully teed up my TaylorMade Penta and gave it as smooth a ride as I could manage with my 3-wood.  The instant it left the club face, I knew it was going to be pretty damn good.  Below is the result that I drove up to after the long, 247 yard tee shot.

Needless to say, my round was made (unlike the putt).

The course was in impeccable condition.  Parts were dry, as they should be in the desert, but for the most part, it was quite lush.  The bunkering was superb and set up some fantastic aiming lines for the first time player.  Though there were blind shots, I always felt as though I had a sense for where Jack wanted me to go.

Overall, I’d have to say the Golden Bear’s 100th was clearly a monument to the prowess he has developed over years of designing courses.  I truly think that this course is one that I could continue to play every day and it would never get old.  Really, I can think of no higher compliment than that.  There are holes that are incredibly difficult, but they are the kinds that create shots you will never forget.

One Response to “Course Review: The Club at Las Campanas – The Sunrise Course”

  1. Karl Ray Says:

    Really well written…from the perspective of one who knows almost nothing about golf. I hope Las Campanas is appreciative.

    Looking forward to seeing you agin.


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