Review and Rating of Rainmakers Golf Club in Alto New Mexico
Rainmakers Golf Club is an exclusive private 18 hole golf course in Alto New Mexico, just a few miles from Ruidoso. In 2008 Robert Trent Jones Jr created a masterpiece in the foothills of the Sacramento Mountains by leveraging the natural terrain of mountain plateaus and valleys, meandering arroyos, natural areas, rock outcroppings, and dramatic elevation changes. It's not surprising that Golf Digest named Rainmakers the 5th Best Course in New Mexico for 2015 – 2016 and it was clearly on Texas Outside's list of the Best Courses in New Mexico that we have played and reviewed.
As you drive into the parking lot of Rainmakers and view the 18th hole, the well landscaped putting green, the scenic beauty, and the upscale facilities you know you're in for a special treat – and you won't be disappointed. From our perspective what makes Rainmakers Golf Club one of the best includes:
- the scenery is stunning with the Sacramento Mountains framing every hole
- the conditions are near perfect from the tee box to the cup
- the course is very well maintained and landscaped
- every hole is a little different from the previous hole
- the course puts a premium on club selection and course management to handle the elevation changes, forced carries, and dog legs
- the layout is very challenging but fair if you pick the right set of tee boxes
- it's peaceful and quiet and loaded with lots of wildlife
- the staff is friendly, courteous, and wants to make sure you have an excellent golf experience
The bent grass greens at Rainmakers are a variety of shapes and sizes ranging from 24 to 43 yards deep. Before you head out make sure you practice your putting because the greens are fast with some combination of contour, ridges, slope, and tiers. Most are raised and guarded with at least one bunker. They are soft and hold the ball well and run true if you can read the breaks, which is difficult and may require your playing them a couple to three times to get to know the breaks and where to place the ball.
Generally speaking, the fairways at Rainmakers are wide and sweeping with plenty of room off the tee box – but miss the fairway and wide rough and you're most likely lost in the trees and natural areas. All of the fairways have some combination of slope and contour and bunkers that you need to manage. There are 6 sets of tee boxes (two of which are combos – play gold on one hole and blue on the next for example) with yardages ranging form 7143 to 4854 and course plays a little longer because of the elevation changes – it's critical that you pick the right set of tee boxes. When we played the fairways were lush and plush and near perfect. The rough was in great condition and cut thick but playable – miss that and you're in the natural areas.
The bunkers at Rainmakers range from small to big monsters. The lips are manageable (no lip to 15 inches or so) and in some cases you may get lucky and roll out of the bunker. All the recent rain had an impact on the playability of the bunkers, it made the sand very hard and compact.
Every hole on Rainmaker has something that makes it scenic, challenging, or fun to play. The front nine is really fun and more difficult as it plays across a plateau with a sharp drop off the side and then down toward a valley and back up. As such it full of contoured fairways, dramatic elevation changes, deep arroyos, and more to keep you focused. The front is a par 37 with two par 3s, 3 par 5s, and 4 par 4s. Some of the holes we really liked on the front included:
- #4 is a fantastic 476 yard par 4 that requires two well placed shots – from an elevated tee box you need to be positioned well for a sharp dog leg right over an arroyo and uphill to the green guarded by a front and back bunker
- #6 is fun and challenging – a 446 yard #1 handicap hole that has a tight sloping landing zone thanks to a deep arroyo that runs from the back left side of the tee box along the entire left side of the fairway and then cuts across the fairway in front of the uphill green guarded by a long right side bunker (plus the arroyo) and a rock outcropping on the left
The back nine gives you a much better opportunity to score and it has a very different look and feel. #10 starts the climb back up hill to the plateau and holes 12 to 18. This nine is home to some excellent holes like:
- #11 is a beautiful and challenging 186 yard par three with an elevated tee box and shot over a natural area to an uphill narrow fairway, a deep grass swale on the left front, rocky arroyo on the right front of the green, a steep hill on the back (which may stop your long shot), and a green with a ridge down the middle and a bowl on front
- #15 is a beautiful 203 yard par three with colorful landscaping, a lake with a fountain, two bunkers and some upscale pueblo homes surrounding the right and back side of the pond
- #18 is fantastic – a 538 yard par 5 that from the tips has an intimidating 230 to 280 yard carry over a ravine and natural area to a landing zone with 3 bunkers facing the tee box – a great risk reward opportunity to try to carry more of the ravine to give the big hitters a shot at the green in two, but it requires a good approach shot over a ravine to a green set off to the right with two bunkers
It's hard to top this fantastic layout with excellent conditions, first class service, challenging greens, and scenic holes. Every hole we played was fantastic and we had to take several pictures and for the first time ever, we are adding a dedicated page with more pictures of Rainmakers Golf Club.
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Service is first class, the pro shop is very well stocked, the paractice facilties are very good, and the facilities are excellent - a restaurant with delicious food, a spa, fitness center, upscale men's and women's locker rooms, and a patio with a stunning view of the valley, mountains, and lush green fairway of the 18th hole.
Jim Helms Gm