Review of Angel Fire Resort Golf Course
Angel Fire Resort Golf & Country Club claims that they can take your game to a much higher level, so I was excited about playing the course. Turns out they were talking about the elevation of the course at 8700’ where one should be able to hit the ball much further. Didn’t work for me – my ball still dribbled the same distance that it does in the flatlands of Texas. But what a joy it was to play Angel Fire Resort Golf Course – some great holes, fair but demanding, and unbelievable scenic views from every hole.
The first nine holes, which are currently the back nine, were built in 1966 and the front nine was added in the late 70’s. The terrain for each nine is very different and as such, each nine has it’s own unique personality and characteristics. The front nine at Angel Fire Resort has tight and narrow tree lined fairways that wind through two unspoiled canyons of aspen and spruce and elevation changes of up to 200 vertical feet. The back nine is open mountain meadow golf with rolling fairways, a meandering creek that presents challenges, and several risk reward opportunities.
Angel Fire Resort Golf Course could easily be described as a shot makers course that also requires good course management and club selection skills coupled with a willingness to take a risk if you want to really score well or take you game to new heights!
Angel Fire Resort Golf Course is short (4894 to 6653 yards with 5 tee boxes) but challenging (rating of 70.6 and slope of 134) because the greens are raised and a tad small, the fairways are tight, the rough is cut thick, there are blind shots, uphill as well as downhill shots, plus bunkers, creeks, ponds, and natural areas that can cause problems. We liked the front nine a little better than the back because of the elevation changes, tighter tree lined holes, beautiful homes, and magnificent views of the mountains. Some of the holes that we really enjoyed included on the front included:
- #5 is a fun 336 yard par 4 with a steep blind uphill shot to a fairway that dog legs right – a big tree blocks the right side shot but for risk takers you can shorten the hole and stuff it on or very close to the green if you want to risk trying to carry the trees on the ridge line
- The signature hole is a beautiful 238 yard par three that’s all carry down 200 vertical feet over a natural area to a green with two big bunkers – you’ll want to hit a couple extra balls from the tips on the fun hole
- #9 requires good course management and club selection to par it – a lake on the left is in play off the tee box and it pinches the fairway that turns right and goes up a tree lined fairway to a raised green with a huge bunker in front of it
The back nine of Angel Fire Resort Golf Course is more open as it plays through a meadow but it’s still challenging thanks to a meandering creek (with a thick ball devouring rough) that runs beside as well as cuts across several fairways. Club selection, course management, and some risk taking is needed to score well on this nine. The back nine has some ups and downs, wider fairways as well as wider and thicker roughs, some tee shots that offer excellent risk reward opportunities to try and hit or get closer to the green, plus that treacherous creek that can come into play on 5 holes. A couple holes are side by side and 3 play along the road. Wind can be a factor on this nines and some holes have a forced carry over a natural wetland area.
The snowpack was light in 2012/2013 which had a very negative impact on the course conditions and prior to August 2013 the course was in very rough condition with lots of damage to the greens, fairways, and rough. Management is to be commended for doing an excellent job in bringing the course back into very good condition – the recent monsoon rains also helped.
When we played the front nine fairways were near perfect – lush, thick, and plush – while the back still had some damage and wasn’t in quite as good condition. The rough was cut very thick on both nines and can eat your ball and make for a very challenging recovery shot. On the front nine the fairways are very tight and if you spray the ball you’ve got a real problem – fairway woods or irons are the logical choice on most holes off the tee unless you’re deadly accurate with the driver. The back nine fairways are wider as is the rough but the creek may require you to keep the driver in the bag. The altitude may help your ball go farther but don’t expect those dry Texas fairway rolls because of the plush thicker fairway grass.
The greens at Angle Fire Resort Golf Course were near perfect – a couple on the back had a little winter damage – and they rolled true and held the ball well. We thought they were a tad slow (8 or so on the Stimpmeter) and a little bumpy. Most of the greens (#18 is the only tiered green) were flat to gently rolling with subtle breaks. They range in size from a tad small to about average and they are a variety of shapes.
The bunkers varied from firm, gritty, thin, and dirt like to great sand that was soft and deep. Most of the bunkers are guarding the greens and the lips are manageable. They range in shape and size from average to a couple monsters.
Bottom line – a fantastic layout with two very different nines that offer a little bit of everything and demand some shot making and risk taking to score well.
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The clubhouse is beautiful and home to an indoor pool, excellent upscale fine dining, fitness center, men’s and women’s locker room, a bar and grill, and a deck with majestic views of the mountains. Service is excellent – it seemed like the cart lady showed up every 3 holes or so. Pace of play is good. The Pro Shop is well stocked and the practice facilities are great.