Review and Rating Rockwind Community Links in Hobbs, New Mexico
Rockwind Community Links is the brainchild of the very progressive City of Hobbs City Commission and architect Andy Staples. The goal was to make Rockwind Community Links much more than just a community golf course and to link the game of golf into the fabric of life in Hobbs as well as help improve the quality of life and promote and grow the game of golf. As such Andy developed Rockwind Community Links as an 18-hole championship golf course and a 9 hole short course designed for all levels of play with an emphasis on family and youth golf.
In addition to two fun and golfer friendly courses, Rockwind Community Links includes: a dual-ended practice range with 30 stalls, multiple short game areas with greens and bunkers, an event center for weddings and special events, a 2.5-mile trail system, various outdoor seating areas, a 5-acre lake, and a picnic area. To help promote the game of golf and get youngsters involved in the sport, Rockwind Community Links is an official site for The First Tee of Southeastern New Mexico. The mission of The First Tee is to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. Rockwind Community Links is considered a trailblazer in uniting golf with the local community.
Andy designed a masterpiece on 200 acres that embrace the flat nature of the southeastern New Mexico landscape and keeps irrigation to a minimum. A 5-acre irrigation lake in the center of the course was created and the dirt from the excavation was used to add contour to the fairways, create berms and mounds, and add some elevation to the greens. Andy incorporated characteristics typically found on courses along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. that were built during the turn of the 20th century. Rock walls built from native caliche line some of the holes and on the 16th fairway, the rock wall crosses the fairway and creates a nasty hazard if you land up against it! During the design, an emphasis was put on keeping hundreds of mature trees that were planted in 1955 on the course, which gives Rockwind Community Links the feel of a much older course, as well as creating some much-needed shade, adding some complexity to shot making, and providing aiming points for players.
Rockwind Community Links has 5 sets of tee boxes with yardages ranging from 7103 to 4101 which makes the course suitable for all levels of play – it will test the best golfers yet foster play for beginners, families, and non-golfers. Andy also created Li’l Rock which is a fun 980-yard par 3 created for youth and beginners and those who want to practice their short game. There are no tee boxes which creates a unique experience for every player – pick a place to play the ball (including a fairway bunker) that fits your game, skill level, or the shot you want to practice. Read our review of Li’l Rock to learn more about this fun 9 nine-hole course.
The fairways at Rockwind Community Links are wide and inviting (miss them and you’re most likely lost in thick native grass) and each hole is a little different from the previous hole. You’ll encounter doglegs left and right, 52 nasty bunkers, water on 4 holes, some risk-reward opportunities, lots of wind to manage, plus berms and mounds. Watch out for the cacti, rabbits, snakes, and other wildlife and a goose watching you putt while it looks for fish.
But the real challenge on Rockwind Community Links begins on the approach shot to the green and landing in the proper section of the green. The first time you play the course you might struggle to know where to aim off the tee box, whether or not to try the risk-reward shot, and where to try and place the ball on the green. Which means the second and subsequent rounds give you more of an opportunity to manage the course and your game and walk into the clubhouse with a good score.
The course conditions from tee to the cup are excellent, the course is well maintained and manicured, the greens are phenomenal, the layout is a joy to play, and the facilities and staff are outstanding. As such it’s not surprising to learn that Rockwind Community Links was ranked #2 in New Mexico on Golfweek’s 2019 list of the “Best Courses You Can Play!” Some of the other accolades for Rockwind Community Links include:
- #7 on Golf Digest’s 2018 and 2017 “Best in State Courses”
- Golf Digest’s “Top Ten New Courses in North America”
- Golf Inc.’s list of the Top 5 New Golf Developments in the World
All of the holes on Rockwind Community Links are a little different from the others and each hole offers some feature or hazard to make that hole unique. Each nine also has it's own unique characteristics and personality. The front nine is a little longer and is an outer loop that plays clockwise around the perimeter of the property and surrounds the interior of the back nine. A couple of holes that we really liked on the front nine includes:
- #4 is a 561 yard par 5 with a wide open landing zone, a mound on the right just before the fairway turns right, a nasty native area crossing the fairway at 200 yards out, a marshy wetland on the right front of the of a large heavily contoured green plus a wetland just off the back of the green – accuracy on the approach is critical
- #7 is a 398-yard dogleg left with a risky but driveable green for long hitters if you can fly the cluster of trees and miss the 3 bunkers surrounding the green
- #9 is a fun 432-yard par 4 with a cluster of trees splitting the fairway at 75 yards from an oblong big green with three right side bunkers – knowing where the pin is placed can determine which side of the cluster of trees to aim for off the tee box
The back nine is our favorite because it starts and finishes around a large pond and stream channel feature, has a more inclusive feeling, is a little more scenic, and maybe a little easier. Our favorite holes on the back nine include:
- #11 is a 409-yard par 4 with a carry over a pond which provides an excellent opportunity to try to carry more of the pond to shorten the hole – a fairway bunker and a dogleg right at 150 out require some strategic shot making
- #13 is a 402-yard minefield of bunkers you need to avoid – a long skinny bunker covering most of the fairway at 125 yards out, plus skinny bunkers on the left and right front, and 3 more surrounding the left side of a 34 yard deep green
- #18 is a great finishing hole and will make you want to come back and play it again, and again, and again – a 591 yard par 5 with a pond that runs from the forward tees to the left side of the green, a tight twisting (left, then right, then left to the green) fairway, and an oblong green with long bunkers on each side
The bent grass greens at Rockwind Community Links are perfect – excellent condition, run very true, soft and hold the ball well, and run at a good speed of 10 or so. They are also very challenging thanks to being raised and heavily contoured with some combination of severe slope, tiers, mounds, and saddles. Pin placement can be a killer and the approach shot needs to be accurate if you’re looking for a par. The greens vary in shape and size ranging from 28 to 39 yards deep. The contour of the fairways and greens creates an illusion that makes it difficult to judge the distance to the green. The more you play the course, the more interesting the approach shots to the greens become.
The Kentucky Blue Grass fairways were also in very good condition – some of the fairways had some bare spots thanks to some irrigation issues that were recently fixed or in progress of being fixed. The bare spots won’t impact your play but the rough can be challenging and if you miss it – you’re in a dense native area with thick brush, maybe a snake, rabbits, and cacti. Generally speaking, the fairways are flat and firm offering some good roll (or bad roll if you overshot the fairway or roll into a bunker or native area). Some of the fairways have some gentle contour, berms, or mounding, and one fairway has two deep wide hidden depressions in the middle of the fairway. Doglegs left and right, water, strategically placed bunkers, a rock wall crossing the fairway, trees and native areas all put a premium on accuracy and shot making. Do not bite off more than you can chew and for your first round, you might want to move up a set of tee boxes. Wind can be an issue and you need to consider it on each of your shots.
The 52 flat bottom bunkers at Rockwind Community Links are, according to the superintendent, meant to be a hazard, not something that should be easy to hit out of. As such, the sand is thin and gritty. The bunkers range in size from small pot shaped to long and skinny. The faces are short (3 to 8 inches) but don’t expect to roll in and back out. From our perspective, they could use some sand and TLC around the perimeter.
Bottom line, Rockwind Community Links is a must play golf course – it’s fun, challenging, unique, in excellent condition, and very, very reasonably priced – most courses of this quality are 2 to 3 times as expensive. The staff is committed to fostering and growing the game of golf in Hobbs and to help do so they promote First Tee and allow juniors to play free!
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The facilities are first class and the property is very well maintained. The facilities and practice areas are excellent, the staff is committed to making your round enjoyable, and the pro shop is well stocked. Lessons and club fitting are available. The bar and grill are excellent – we had a great breakfast and two outstanding lunches.