Monthly Archives: March 2011

Santa Fe’s Love of Art & Nature Shown on Local Golf Courses

This article was syndicated from Cybergolf.  Click here for the original article

By: Steve Habel

The Santa Fe, N.M., area is world-renowned for its contribution to and love of the arts, and a special sensitivity to Mother Nature’s treasures. Given that ideal, it’s only fitting the region would also be home to golf courses that could be considered art in their own right, through solid design and routings in high-desert surroundings.

High Desert Setting at Towa GC

Two of the area’s courses – the Towa Golf Club, located on the expansive Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino, and the city-owned and -operated Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe – illustrate that finding the delicate balance of golf and nature can be benefit all interests. Both of these venues are among the top tracks in the state and fit in great with a trip to Santa Fe.

Three (and soon Four) Times the Fun at Towa

Located in the scenic Pojoaque Valley on tribal land of the Pojoaque Pueblo, Towa Golf Club features three nine-hole tracks; another nine will open for play in mid-2012.

The courses surround the opulent Buffalo Thunder Resort, New Mexico’s largest and most expensive resort, with an estimated cost of more than $250 million. The property is owned by the Pojoaque Pueblo (which also owns the nearby Cities of Gold Casino & Hotel), and has a Native American feel throughout.

Towa is made up of four nine-hole tracks: Boulder and Piñon (both which opened in 2001), Valley (2009) and the Butterfly Nine, which opened in 2005 and is currently closed for improvements and set to reopen in 2012. Once the improvements are finished on the Butterfly Nine, the Boulder Nine will be renovated as part a rotation to keep Towa in constant prime condition.

The rolling land here is crossed and bordered by ball-grabbing, red-dirt arroyos and indigenous piñon trees. Sandstone rock formations also enter play among a series of ridges that dissect the courses as the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez Mountains provide scenic golf backdrops and way-out-there views.

Most of the tee boxes are elevated, and the putting surfaces, which can be demanding, are often raised from the fairways as well. You won’t find huge mounds or ridges on the greens, but subtle breaks make golfers think twice about their reads as the round rolls by.

Three-time U.S. Open winner Hale Irwin designed the Valley and Piñon nines, while Tucson-based landscape architect and golf course designer Bill Phillips fashioned Boulder and Butterfly.

No. 1 on Pinon Nine at Towa Golf Club

All the courses at Towa GC play to a par of 36 and each features five sets of tees. The Piñon Nine stretches 3,585 yards from the tips while the Valley Nine weighs in at 3,377 yards. Those two courses sport the easiest combined rating (71.2) and slope (126).

The Boulder Nine, so named because of the amazing rock formations that frame it, measures 3,558 yards from the back tees and is the hardest course at Towa Golf Club. In combination with Valley, it’s rated 71.6 with a slope of 132, while paired with the Piñon jumps up to 72.8 and 135, respectively. Butterfly extends 3,380 yards.

The first hole of the Piñon Nine is a breathtaking, downhill 631-yard par-5. The 186-yard par-3 fourth hole on Boulder has an 8,200-square-foot island green, the only such putting surface in New Mexico. The green is in the middle of a huge irrigation lake and surrounded by sand to keep slightly wayward shots out of the water.

There are three two-shotters on Boulder that play more than 400 yards (capped by the tough 444-yard seventh). Piñon’s highlights include the 460-yard but downhill, par-4 fourth and the 442-yard, dead-straight par-4 seventh. The Valley Nine’s hardest hole is the 488-yard par-4 fourth, which is sandwiched between two reachable par-4s – the 318-yard third and No. 6, which plays downhill to 357 yards.

Most of Towa GC’s holes look more difficult from the tee than they really are. The secret, simply, is to stay out of the desert, avoid hitting through doglegs, and keep your focus on the shot at hand, not the 360-degree panoramas.

Towa GC also offers a practice facility with a driving range situated so players will never find the sun in their eyes and a 7,300-square-foot clubhouse with a dining room and bar as well as an outdoor patio area.

Towa Golf Club and the Buffalo Thunder Resort are in the heart of beautiful Northern New Mexico, about nine miles north of Santa Fe. For more information about the course and the resort, go to Buffalo Thunder’s website at

Marty Sanchez Links in Santa Fe

“Marty” is a Sensational & Top-Notch Municipal Test

The city-owned Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe golf course on the western edge of Santa Fe is a scenic haven among the rolling hills and evergreen trees in a valley with four mountain ranges – the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, Sandia and Ortiz Mountains.

Playing 7,405 yards from the tips, the par-72 course is a great place for new golfers as well as seasoned veterans. The manicured fairways of the inland links follow the natural contours of the land and weave in and out of the native juniper and piñon trees, leaving little room for error.

Juniper & Pinon Trees at Marty Sanchez Links

Native grasses separate fairways, many of which have raised sides to help shots more easily find the short grass. “Marty,” as locals call the track named after a former Santa Fe amateur champion who died of cancer in young adulthood, offers a country-club experience at “muni” prices. Designed by Baxter Spann (the architect who later built the much-ballyhooed Black Mesa Golf Club about 20 miles to the north), Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe is a gorgeous yet testy journey punctuated by massive greenside bunkers. Many consider it one of the best municipal courses in the Southwest.

The moment you approach the first tee, you’ll be knocked out by the mountain views, a stunning feature that remains constant through the round.

The opening stretch of holes at Marty asks for your best game. The opener, a 565-yard, uphill par-5 doglegs slightly to the left and is the course’s No. 1 handicap hole. The fourth is the most difficult par-3 on the course. From the tips its 245 yards test go only a bit downhill; water lurks all along the left and there’s no bail-out area on the right.

The 465-yard, par-4 ninth asks for both length and precision as trees block your path to the green if you stray too far right off the tee. There are also bunkers left and short of this green. The 420-yard, par-4 10th runs straight uphill past a large fairway bunker along the left of a narrow driving area. The green is partially hidden by the severe slope, and there are sand traps right and a large grass bunker left of the putting surface.

“Marty” has its own version of a Final Four, as three par-4s of 465, 435 and 485 yards, Nos. 15, 16 and 18, respectively, are combined with a 590-yard par-5 to create a memorable ending stretch.

The closing hole may be the toughest of the bunch, as there are three fairway bunkers to avoid left off the tee and a large slope on the right that will return a shot that’s a little left back into the fairway. There’s also a large lake on the right and a large bunker right, both of which must be avoided at all costs.

Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe carries a rating of 73.0 and a slope of 129 from the back tees. The putting surfaces are bentgrass and the fairways Bermuda. It’s a great course and an easy place to have a fun, if somewhat demanding, round of golf.

For more information about Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe, visit

Santa Fe Neighborhoods – Focus on Arroyo Hondo

My backyard in Arroyo Hondo

My backyard in Arroyo Hondo

Out of all the wonderful neighborhoods in Santa Fe,  Arroyo Hondo is one of the most special to me because it is my neighborhood.   Arroyo Hondo is a community of approximately 200 families located 7.5 miles from the Plaza in the southeast quadrant of the County.  Arroyo Hondo has a varied terrain of rolling hills, sheltered valleys and flat lots, many with excellent pinon and juniper tree cover.  Most homes in Arroyo Hondo enjoy expansive, wide open views of the mountains.

Arroyo Hondo’s boundaries are Old Las Vegas Highway to the east, the Arroyo Hondo itself to the north, the Santa Fe Southern Railway line to the west and Seton Village to the south.   The average lot size is over 9 acres and the average house size is approximately 3,400 square feet.  Most of the streets are dirt roads with very few overhead wires or street lights to interfere with our brillant northern New Mexico night skies.  Housing styles are primarily Pueblo Revival and pitched roof Northern New Mexico Territorial.

Another sunny blue sky day in Arroyo Hondo

Another sunny blue sky day in Arroyo Hondo

This rural neighborhood is known for being premier horse country and miles of riding trails weave in and around the area.  The Arroyo Hondo Trail Association is a residents’ organization that maintains the trail system.  Over half the neighborhood participates in the Arroyo Hondo Trail Association.  Click here for more about the history of Arroyo Hondo and the Arroyo Hondo Trail Association.

There is a strong sense of community in Arroyo Hondo and commitment to the rural, residential character of the neighborhood.  In 1992 Arroyo Hondo residents created the Arroyo Hondo Land Trust, a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to preserve the rural, residential character of the community.

Arroyo Hondo Canyon carved by the Arroyo Hondo

The canyon carved by the Arroyo Hondo

In 2002 Arroyo Hondo residents donated $300,000 to help Santa Fe County purchase 86 acres of wetlands for open space at the entrance to Arroyo Hondo, just off of Arroyo Hondo Road.  The Arroyo Hondo Open Space area is open to anyone for hiking and is home to numerous birds, mammals (such as deer, raccoons and bobcats),  frogs and other reptiles.  The hiking trails provide panoramic views of the Galisteo Basin, Cerrillos Hills, Sandia Mountains and Ortiz Mountains.

Arroyo Hondo is also home to the Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, one of the largest fourteenth century towns in the northern Rio Grande region and now a 20-acre preserve.  Archaeologists believe that Arroyo Hondo Pueblo was first established in the early 1300s AD.  The stone and adobe pueblo grew to over 1,000 rooms. The pueblo had two occupation periods:  1300-1345 AD and 1370-1425 AD.  Arroyo Hondo Pueblo was extensively investigated by The School of American Research in the 1970s. You can read some of the fascinating studies they published describing their findings by ordering them here.  The School of American Research transferred Arroyo Hondo Pueblo to the Archaeology Conservancy in 2003.  There will be a lecture on the Big Pueblo at Arroyo Hondo on May 19, 2011 presented by The School for Advanced Research (which is what The School of American Research is now called).

Tennis court at El Gancho

Tennis court at El Gancho

Arroyo Hondo residents benefit from their proximity to the El Gancho Fitness Swim & Racquet Club located at 104 Old Las Vegas Highway, which has the following features:

5,000 Square Foot Cardio and Strength Training Center
20 yd. Heated Indoor & Outdoor Pool (seasonal)
Hot Tubs
Gender specific Saunas and Steam Rooms
2 Racquetball/ Squash Courts
Cushioned Aerobafloor Group Exercise Studio
15 bike Cycling Studio
7 Outdoor Tennis Courts
2 Indoor Climate-controlled Tennis Courts
Poolside Deli at the Outdoor Pool (seasonal)

Steaksmith at El Gancho  is located next door to the fitness, swim and racket club and features aged beef, seafood and ribs.  Steaksmith is known for its outstanding prime roast beef and margaritas.

Other local amenities include:

Harry’s Road House, another popular restaurant located at 96 B Old Las Vegas Highway, and

Sunrise Grocery, which also has a gas station at 52 Old Las Vegas Highway, and

For a fun sightseeing adventure that gives you an excellent view of the Arroyo Hondo neighborhod consider a train ride on the Santa Fe Southern Railway, a 129 year old spur track from Lamy to Santa Fe that passes along Arroyo Hondo’s southern boundary.

Homes for sale in the Arroyo Hondo neighborhood

If you would like to know more about any of the homes for sale in the Arroyo Hondo neighborhood or for a free market analysis of how much your Arroyo Hondo home is worth, contact me, Karen Meredith, Keller Williams, by e-mail or at (505) 603-3036.

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Santa Fe Real Estate News – The Bellamah Neighborhood

Santa Fe Market Report
Featuring The Bellamah Area

Active SFAR Listings
All Santa Fe Listings (3/10/11)
Residential: 2154
Residential Land: 1436
Farm & Ranch: 120
Commercial Land: 68
Multi Family: 31
Commercia Buildings: 164
Live/Work: 19

The Bellamah Area Snapshot

Days on Market (DOM)
The Bellamah Area – Residential Sold*

Selling Price: % of List Price
The Bellamah Area – Residential Sold*


If you would like to know more about any of the homes for sale in the Bellamah neighborhood, contact me, Karen Meredith, Prudential Santa Fe Real Estate, by e-mail or at (505) 603-3036. For a free market analysis of how much your Bellamah neighborhood home is worth, click here.


Santa Fe Neighborhoods – Focus on Eldorado

Santa Fe New Mexico Living– Focus on Eldorado

Eldorado 005Eldorado at Santa Fe  (Eldorado) is a well established community of approximately 2,700 lots located 14 miles southeast of the Santa Fe Plaza.  Eldorado’s attractive physical setting, large areas of protected open space, recreational amenities, reasonable prices and convenience to Santa Fe have made it a popular place to live in the Santa Fe area.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Eldorado, as a census-designated place, had a total area of 20.8 square miles, a population of 6,130 and 2,895 households according to the 2010 census.

The minimum acreage for lots in Eldorado is 1 acre with the majority of homes being built on 1 to 2 acre lots in the pueblo style which blends nicely into the landscape.  Prices generally range from the mid $200,000s to the mid to high $600,000s.

Eldorado Community Center

Eldorado Community Center

Eldorado has a much used Community Center which averages 40 to 50 events per week according to the Eldorado Community Improvement Association (ECIA).  Groups using the Community Center include the boy scouts, the girl scouts, bridge groups, seniors and a children’s theater group.

The Vista Grande Public Library has a variety of programs for adults and children and enjoys active community support.  In August 2009, the Tenth Annual Ice Cream Social raised $17,000 for the library.

One of Eldorado's community biking trails

One of Eldorado’s community biking trails

There are greenways and parks scattered throughout Eldorado which contribute to the open space feel of the area.  Residents can also enjoy the volleyball, basketball, handball and tennis courts, a baseball field, a soccer field, a pool, 14 miles of community hiking and biking trails running beside the roads through Eldorado and a community preserve of 4,094 undeveloped acres.   In addition to the community trails, the Santa Fe Rail Trail,  an 11.5 mile trail from the Santa Fe Southern Railroad Depot to near Lamy, New Mexico, passes directly through Eldorado.  Hikers, bikers and horseback riders can use the Santa Fe Rail Trail.

Finally, stables are available which currently house 80 horses.  The ECIA advises that the stables are popular with gardeners too because manure is free for residents who can help themselves to it.  Otherwise, twice a year the Stable Committee will load up residents’ vehicles with manure or deliver manure to residents’ houses for a small donation.

Commercial amenities in Eldorado include a shopping center with a large, well stocked supermarket, post office, bank, restaurants, flower shop, dog grooming, pharmacy, gym, doctor’s office and other health services.  A gas station and convenience store are located directly across from the main entrance to Eldorado and a hardware store is about a half mile north of the main entrance.

Eldorado History.  Eldorado lies within the Canada de los Alamos Grant, a Spanish land grant which dates back to 1785. As recorded in 1894, and patented by the US government, the size of the grant was about 12,068 acres.

The grant was operated as a cattle ranch by the Onderdonk Land & Cattle Company from 1901 to 1956 and by the Simpson family from 1956 until 1969.  In 1969 the American Realty and Petroleum Corporation (AMREP) bought the Simpson family out. AMREP proceeded to plat about 2,700 lots and develop about 6,000 acres of their purchase as Eldorado at Santa Fe, selling the first lots in 1972.  From 1972 until 1983 only about 200 homes were built, but after 1983 the pace of construction quickened and at present the Eldorado subdivisions are nearly built out with only a few vacant lots available.

Artist Tour. Many artists reside in Eldorado.  The Eldorado Arts and Crafts Association holds an annual two day studio tour each year, in mid-May, in which artists open their homes and studios to the public to showcase their art.  In its 19th year, the 2010 tour featured 117 artists in 83 studios, making it the largest studio tour in New Mexico. Sale items included traditional paintings, digital art, ceramics, textiles, wearable art, photography, sculpture and jewelry.

Artists contribute 5% of their sale proceeds from the tour to support the Eldorado Fire Department, the El Dorado Elementary School and the Vista Grande Public Library.   In the past 5 years the Eldorado Arts & Crafts Association has contributed approximately $15,000 to these organizations.

Beautiful homes at prices ranging from the mid $200,000s to the mid to high $600,000s are currently available in Eldorado.

If you are interested in seeing homes in the Eldorado neighborhood or you would like a free comparative market analysis to see how much it is worth contact me, Karen Meredith, Keller Williams, or call me at 505.603.3036.

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