Black Mesa Golf Club
Espanola, New Mexico

Photos & Story by: Ed Stone
 
Eddie Peck (left), developer of Black Mesa Golf Club and his partner, Calvin Tafoya, CEO of Santa Clara Development Corporation.
The Black Mesa Golf Club located just outside of Espanola, New Mexico is situated some 5,400 feet above sea level can easily be described as a premier desert layout with some of the most beautiful vistas you will find in the Southwest. Developer Eddie Peck, from Santa Fe grew up in the real estate business and wanted to build a “class act” golf course. In the process of finding land and especially water rights, he found the ideal location for Black Mesa. Peck and his partner, Calvin Tafoya then he found Baxter Spann, golf course architect, from Texas. Together, these two have created one of those “not to be missed” golf courses that is “a must play.” 
From your first tee shot to your last putt, you’ll be mentally challenged as to the best way to play each hole.
GoGolfandTravel.com recently visited this North Central New Mexico area to review specifically Black Mesa Golf Club and the Taos Country Club. Both courses are open to the public, located about 45 minutes apart and offer totally different play. This review focuses on Black Mesa Golf Club that opened in 1993. 
 
When visiting the BlackMesa.com website, you will find the following description:
“The environment at Black Mesa is pure, absent of any man-made distractions. As you enter the site, your first glimpse of the course gives you a taste of this vast, dramatic property.

Designed by architect Baxter Spann, Black Mesa has a wild Irish links look to it, particularly in the spring after a wet winter when the native grasses are leafy and blowing in the breeze. Every hole is shaped by the surrounding landscape like an artist forming a delicate piece of pottery.

The course plays through dramatic sandstone ridges with Black Mesa visible from several locations. Each hole features characteristics that make them both strategic and memorable in its own unique way. The layout showcases distinctive bunkering, native arroyos as hazards, and green contouring in keeping with the scale of the natural landforms.”
 
The above description is accurate. We can say the area and Black Mesa is a hidden oasis for golfers and travelers looking for new experiences of the Southwest. The winding Rio Grande River meanders its way to the Gulf of Mexico through this beautiful desert landscape. Peck related to us in building the course there was several holes designed around Pueblo ancestral grounds.
 
For a desert course, the fairways are very expansive but carefully sculptured to offer “risk and reward” landing areas.
From your first tee shot to your last putt, you’ll be mentally challenged as to the best way to play each hole. For a desert course, the fairways are very expansive but carefully sculptured to offer “risk and reward” landing areas. Most all the bluegrass fairways are framed by arroyos hugging the natural ridgelines and valleys. There are several holes situated with undulating greens in box canyons and beneath rocky ridges. Once on the bent grass greens, you’ll find that accurate putting is essential for a good score. Of interest is the 16th green with a design in the upper half favoring an alien that purportedly was seen in nearby (218 miles) Roswell, New Mexico… better be on the lookout!
"I have been designing courses for more than 25 years," said Spann. "More than any other project, I eagerly anticipated every trip I made to this course, always knowing I would find something new to experience. I hope that golfers will feel the same way about Black Mesa."
 
Tom Velarde is the director of golf at Black Mesa Golf Club.
Black Mesa is open year round; weather permitting with the peak season being from May to October. Players are able to make tee times up to two weeks online and more than two weeks by phone. It is important to note that the dress code does not allow denim. Collared shirt and Bermuda length shorts or slacks are required. We found the GPS on the golf carts essential in knowing where to hit blind shots around the course.
Tom Velarde is the director of golf at Black Mesa. This is one affable gent who was born and raised in the area and very proud of the growth and new additions attracting more visitors to the area. He was named PGA Senior player for 2002 and 2005. It is obvious that he loves his work. Superintendent Pat Brockwell and his capable assistant, Adam Drew, provide TLC to the course.

Where to Stay:
Santa Claran Hotel & Casino, Espanola
Black Mesa has developed Stay & Play packages with several hotels in the area offering guests the finest service and luxurious accommodations. On our recent visit; we were most impressed with the relative new Santa Claran Hotel & Casino, about a three-minute drive to the Black Mesa Golf Club.
 
Santa Claran Hotel & Casino, Espanola – Outstanding accommodations with the casino located within the property. The hotel is located on the ancestral lands of the modern-day Santa Clara Pueblo tribe. Here you will find the epitome of the Pueblo's cultural traits of warmth, friendship and hospitality. Website: http://www.santaclaran.com Phone: 877-505-4949
 
Getting There:
Although Santa Fe has the closest airport, about 35 miles from Espanola, the Albuquerque Airport, about 90 miles, is much less expensive for airfares. Be sure to compare the costs before booking as it could be enough savings to cover your rental vehicle.
 
While You Are In the Area:               
Puye Cliff Dwellings:
TOP:
The ancestors of the modern Santa Clara Pueblo people first carved cave-like dwellings in the soft volcanic tufa cliffs -- the Puye Cliff Dwellings in Santa Clara Canyon.
BOTTOM:
Santa Clara Pueblo people carefully maintain the traditions and life ways passed on from generation to generation.
Visit the Puye Cliff Dwellings…Centuries ago the ancestors of the modern Santa Clara Pueblo people first carved cave-like dwellings in the soft volcanic tufa cliffs above the Rio Grande Valley where they make their home today. View the ruins and learn how they lived at the Puye Cliffs Tour just minutes from Black Mesa.

Black Mesa and the Santa Clara Pueblo are centrally located for exploring the North Central region of New Mexico. From the shops in Santa Fe to the outdoor adventures in Taos to the National Labs in Los Alamos to the landscapes that inspired Georgia O’Keefe in Abiquiui, the region offers every kind of attraction imaginable.
Too Long!
 
Kha' p'o (Valley of the Wild Roses):
The ancestors of the modern Santa Clara Pueblo people first carved cave-like dwellings in the soft volcanic tufa cliffs -- the Puye Cliff Dwellings in Santa Clara Canyon.

Later, they built adobe structures on the slopes and top of the mesa, surrounded by spectacular views of the valley. They were successful hunters and farmers. But around 600 years ago, a severe drought forced the people to move into the valley near the Rio Grande. Kha' p'o, the native Tewa word meaning "Valley of the Wild Roses," has been home to the Santa Clara people ever since.

Today, tribal members live in modern homes on their 50,000-acre reservation. They have a distinct and thriving culture with a sovereign government, and they carefully maintain the traditions and life ways passed on from generation to generation.

Santa Clara is known for its artists. Their polished black and red pottery is world famous. Clay dug from the earth is first molded into coils to form a pot. The shape is entirely formed and refined by hand. It is then decorated with symbols of the Native people's reverence and identification with nature, including clouds, animals, mountains, and all creation.

For More Information:
Black Mesa Golf Club
115 New Mexico 399
Espanola, NM 87532
Phone: 505-747-8946
 
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