Review by John K. Darling


When you drive into the town of Espanola, New Mexico, you are not impressed that this is a thriving town. There are no big box stores, no impressive shopping centers or even attractive strip malls. There is a nice movie theater, the Dreamcatcher, and several casinos of various sizes. Down the road is an impressive one, Hilton's Buffalo Thunder, but it is technically listed as in Santa Fe. Black Mesa is one of the eight "Golf on the Santa Fe Trail" golf courses.

When you take State Road 399 west you come to the entrance to the Black Mesa Golf Club. In 2004, the last time I was here, there was only a wooden sign. It has been replaced with an artfully designed stucco fixture. They are also to be commended for the simple wooden sign next to theirs. It's for "The First Tee" program. While speaking of signs, the tee marker signs are very impressive. They are carved out of black onyx stone and highly polished. You'll see them in the slide show to follow.

As you drive up the club road, you go deeper into the desert and finally arrive at the clubhouse. Once again, not that impressive. It is of simple design. You might even say it is cute. Then all at once Black Mesa Golf Club gets serious about golf. Across the road from the clubhouse is one of the most extensive practice and training areas I have seen. The driving range is multi-level AND can probably support close to 50 players at a time. There is a bunker and pitching area down the road that is huge and two excellent putting greens with great surfaces are positioned at the driving range and adjacent to the clubhouse.

The pro shop is well stocked and the personnel at the club are comfortable to be with, friendly and considerate. The cart equipment is well maintained. They have to be for the up and down terrain challenge they are faced with. I met two gentlemen at the practice range pulling carts and told them I was impressed that they would be walking the course. My thought was that one had to be in excellent condition with lots of stamina, since the distance between holes is significant. One of the fellows smiled and told me "we know some shortcuts."

On this year's golf tour of the Santa Fe Golf Trail and other courses in New Mexico, I can say without a doubt that Black Mesa has a distinctive personality from all the others. There are very few, if any, similarities. I mean this in a good way. We saved our last day of play for Black Mesa. Although we were exhausted after seven courses in eight days, we were happy we did.

When you play Black Mesa you will be well advised of the following. The close areas around bunkers are in themselves daunting. Your ball will not roll into the sand. It will hide in rather deep grass. In most cases you will be able to find errant shots that fly away from the fairway, and you can either try to blast them back onto the well kept fairway grass or take a stroke and throw your ball back. You will usually return to the fairway with a few extra balls others have left out there. You will be challenged with water hazards on only two holes. However, if you top the ball often or cannot get ball flight into the air when required, you are not going to have a good day. On second thought, you may, just because of the unusual beauty and awesomeness (if there is such a word) of this superbly sculptured golf course.

Now CLICK HERE and enjoy a dessert course unlike any you may have ever played.