2006 Golf
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One of the pleasures of traveling to the southwest in early April is the opportunity for the golfers among us to play a round or two on different golf courses in a different part of the country.  As we have done for the previous seven straight years, we began our week with an early Sunday morning round at Painted Dunes Desert Golf Course north of El Paso.  This course was once on a Golf Digest list of top courses in the state of Texas.  We have found that its condition has deteriorated somewhat over the years, and we're not so sure we'll return next year.

We also played a round at Sonoma Ranch Golf Course in Las Cruces.  This course was located and constructed with the idea of building houses all around and through it.  We didn't get to play here last year, and in the two years since we last visited, the number of houses surrounding the course, particularly the front nine, which was less built up previously, has increased dramatically.  The course itself is generally in excellent condition with a good variety of holes.


Painted Dunes
A rather unassuming wooden sign to mark the turn-off to the course.
We draw up to the clubhouse in the early light of a Texas desert morning.
As an easterner, when I go to the southwest, I'm always impressed by the scenery.  The land is flat and devoid of trees, so you can see forever, and there are always mountains in the distance.  That's Darin putting his golf shoes on.
As just a twosome, there is always the possibility that we'll be grouped with other singles or paired with another twosome.  In this case, we played with two very nice fellows who, like us, were just passing through El Paso on business trips and wanted to get a round of golf in.  It was the first time for either of them at Painted Dunes.
That's the West Course hole #6 information plaque in front of us.  We may have scored like beginners, but at least we looked good!  (Painted Dunes has three nines, and you play any two of them to make your 18-hole round.  The "famous" course is the East-West pairing, and that's what we usually play if we can get a good tee time.)
A 106 with six dots for Dan!  Horrors!  (Well, it WAS windy!)  Darin didn't do so well, either, but he beat me handily.




Sonoma Ranch
This isn't, of course, a golf course.  But it's where we began our day!
Darin hits his approach shot to the 7th green.
Darin hits out of the waste area to the left of the 15th hole.  Why is Darin even IN the waste area?  Because he can play off of grass any time when he's home in Ohio!
View from the tee looking up the 18th fairway. The hole is a dogleg to the right.
Follow-through on my drive on the 18th.  Not bad form.  As I recall, I hit it pretty well, and the ball went down the left side of the fairway.  But I still made a double bogey 7 after hitting it in the pond to the front-left of the green!
Much better than two days earlier.  No wind at all today, so we have to find something else to blame the bad holes on.  Darin still beat me.  One dot each.
Now here's something we've never seen before.  Lots of golf courses have restaurants, and lots of them put menus on the 9th tee along with a way to contact the kitchen and order some food to have ready as you make the turn.  But this is the first time we've ever seen the menu right on the scorecard!  Makes sense, though.