Take a Swing at it

It’s been said that golf is perhaps one of, if not, the toughest sport to master; so, needless to say, it can be intimidating for a beginner. Yet, one of the greatest things about golf, unlike basketball or football for example, is that anyone can start at any age or stage of life. And the beauty of living in the southwest is the perfect golfing weather that can be enjoyed throughout the spring, summer and fall. Our courses can be particularly beautiful during these times of the year and well worth a visit. To help the newcomers to the sport we’ve put together a quick guide to local courses by three local enthusiasts.

Jerry Macias
New York Life Agent
Golfing for 15 years

Categorize the level of difficulty of each course.
Based on my personal level of performance on each of these courses, I would have to say that from most difficult of a 5 to the easiest a 1, here is how I would rank them:
Red Hawk Golf Course
Picacho Hills Country Club
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces Golf Club at Sonoma Ranch 
White Sands Golf Course

Which is your favorite course and why? 
I typically play most of my golf at New Mexico State due the proximity to my home, however, if I had my favorite without regard to convenience, it would be Red Hawk. It has been a challenging course for me to feel that I can pretty much keep a fairly consistent score, so I am trying to play it more often and see it as my challenge for 2015. New Mexico State University is the course that helps me with keeping my game in check due to their practice facilities and convenience. So you can say I am in transition at this point.

What tips would you have for a beginner and which course would lend itself to a beginner? 
For a beginner, I would highly recommend getting a series of golf lessons and a good book on golf etiquette. Most area golf courses provide individual instruction at reasonable prices. I suggest New Mexico State and Red Hawk for their practice facilities and the friendliness of the staff. It does take time to get a decent feel for the game, so investing some time on the driving range and working on the short game practice facility does help. I also suggest pairing up with people you know at the beginning in order to take the stress out of playing with someone you don’t know. I have introduced the idea of having my wife Linda and I play with other couples who are practically beginners and it always turns out to be quite fun.

How important would you say is the equipment for a beginner and for a seasoned golfer? 
When I started playing I used a starter set that cost me no more than $120.00 from Phil Woods at Fairway Golf. The equipment becomes more important the better player you become due to the increased accuracy of your golf ability. The equipment for seasoned golfers can run from $700 to as much at $1500 depending on the level of your ability and your lower handicap score. 

Outside of Las Cruces, which course in New Mexico do you like and how does it compare to the courses we have in Las Cruces?
One of my favorite courses in New Mexico is Paa Ko Ridge Golf Course located in Cedar Crest, east of Albuquerque. I play there once a year as a special occasion with others that feel the same way. However, there are many quality golf courses in our land of enchantment; it’s just a matter of making the time to get to them.

Yu-Li Huang
Faculty at NMSU
Golfing for 2½ years

Categorize the level of difficulty of each course. 
From the easiest to the hardest: 
Las Cruces Golf Club at Sonoma Ranch 
New Mexico State University
White Sands Golf Course
Picacho Hills Country Club
Red Hawk Golf Course

Which is your favorite course and why? 
NMSU - for me, golf is my exercise. I like to carry my bag and walk. NMSU is a more condense course. The walking distance is short and the course is easier. Even when you miss hit, you should be able to find the ball easier. 

What tips would you have for a beginner and which course would lend itself to a beginner? 
For a beginner, the most important tip is to keep your eyes on the ball the whole time. Doing this will keep the ball going forward. NMSU should be a good practice course. The only obstacle is the trees and the rough is not too difficult to hit the ball out. 

How important would you say is the equipment for a beginner? 
For a beginner, it is all about learning. As long as the equipment is comfortable to a golfer, it should be sufficient. However, for a seasoned golfer in general, assuming his/her golf swing becomes more consistent, the equipment becomes more critical to improve the score.

Outside of Las Cruces, which course in New Mexico do you like and how does it compare to the courses we have in Las Cruces? 
I have only played at Marty Sanchez Golf Course in Santa Fe once and that was the only course outside of Las Cruces I ever played at.

Roberto Aviña
Finance Manager
Golfing for 45 years

Categorize the level of difficulty of each course. 
On a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the most difficult), here is how I would rate our local courses:
Red Hawk Golf Course - 10
Las Cruces Golf Club at Sonoma Ranch  - 8 
Picacho Hills Country Club - 8
New Mexico State University - 7
White Sands Golf Course - 7

Which is your favorite course and why? 
My favorite course is Red Hawk because I find it very challenging and also because it has some beautiful scenery. 

What tips would you have for a beginner and which course would lend itself to a beginner? 
For a beginner, I feel that it is important for them to have fun and to keep it simple. As far as which course lends itself more to a beginner, I would have to say to start at NMSU. 

How important would you say is the equipment for a beginner?
With all the new equipment these days, I think it is very important. Again, keep it simple.

Outside of Las Cruces, which course in New Mexico do you like and how does it compare to the courses we have in Las Cruces?
I really enjoy golfing at Paco Ridge in Albuquerque, NM. Paco Ridge is out in the mountains and ravines. We have flat desert courses here.

Spring 2015
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