Since it was officially opened in 1967, The Championship Golf Course has been one of the finest facilities of its kind nationwide. It has been nationally recognized by Golf Digest Magazine as one of the top-25 public courses in the country, and in January of 1991 Golfweek Magazine rated all public and private courses in the country by state, and dubbed The Championship Course the number one course to play in New Mexico. The Course is still holding strong in the rankings seven years later, and in 1998, Golfweek tabbed the Championship Course No. 2 in the West, behind only the Stanford University Golf Course in Palo Alto, Calif. The Championship Course is no stranger to major tournaments. It was the site of the 1950, 1976 and 1992 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships as well as the 1998 NCAA Championships. In 1987 the course was the sight of the women’s NCAA tourney.
The Championship Course has been home to the William H. Tucker Invitational for the past 43 years, and in 2010 it hosted the 56th incarnation of the event. The course has also been home to three Western Athletic Conference Men’s Championships (1979, 1982, 1989).
Since 1979, The Championship Course has also been home to the prestigious Dick McGuire Intercollegiate, a major tournament in women’s college golf.
Like most class layouts, The Championship Course flashes a personality all its own. The 7,248-yard, par 72 course boasts fairways that stretch out long and wide, bobbing up and down, both right and left – all factors that make it difficult to reach the rolling, well-manicured greens. Stray shots often land in the rough, loose desert sand, water or sagebrush.
The paradise-like climate of Albuquerque makes The Championship Golf Course at the University of New Mexico a perfect oasis for golf, be it January or June!
One of the newest features of the Championship Course at UNM is the recently-opened practice facility, which gives Lobo golfers a chance to work on every aspect of their game. Complete with 40-yard wide fairways, almost 25,000 square feet of greens – undulating and flat – and the ability to simulate every condition, the practice facility rates as one of the nation’s biggest and best.
The brainchild of former UNM head coach John Fields, the practice range was subsidized by tremendous support from local boosters, as well as money raised from a 1997 College-Am, featuring former Lobos and current touring pros. The facility, which is also home to a short three-hole course, was designed by the touring pros, and it allows Lobo golfers to practice in the sand, on a low-cut fairway, in 10-inch rough; in essence, any condition which might be experienced during competition.
The practice facility is open only to the members of the UNM men’s and women’s golf teams and provides the teams the opportunity to strengthen their game. The other major advantage of the practice facility is that it is large enough to accommodate the entire squad.
“The private practice facility has a tremendous design and it gives us the chance to work on the part of the game that’s the most important: the short game,” says Lobo head coach Glen Millican. “Any kind of shot that a kid wants to work on, he can. It allows our players to take their game to the next level.” The UNM men’s golf program utilizes a new, state-of-the art practice facility and locker room located in the pro shop of the Championship Course. The facility opened in September, 1998, and contains digital equipment which allows players to evaluate and analyze their swings.
Built through donations from local home-builder Richard Fuller, the Richard Fuller Indoor Practice Facility also provides Lobo golfers with the opportunity to work on their game during inclement weather, as it serves as an indoor driving range.
The digital equipment includes a video camera which is linked into a computer and tapes a player’s swing. Once on the computer, a player can compare his swing against previous tapings. He can also use it to work with teachers from home through video tape or disk exchange. The computer also has a database of video footage and swing breakdowns of 50 touring professionals which are helpful as teaching tools.
The locker room facilities have been upgraded significantly in recent years as well and the Lobos now have a private locker room separate from the rest of the clubhouse. Each player is given his own locker for the season.
With some of the best facilities in collegiate golf, it’s no wonder that the Lobos have several alums currently on the PGA tour. Also, the women’s team has qualified for 19 straight NCAA postseason appearances, including 2011.
PATTY HOWARD GOLF COMPLEX
The Patty Howard Golf Complex is the newest addition to the UNM golf facilities, giving both the Lobo men’s and women’s programs a state-of-the-art office building. The Complex includes a meeting room with video capabilities, as well as offices for both head and assistant coaches of Lobo men’s and women’s golf.
A 1961 graduate of UNM, Patty Howard Olliges attended the University when there was no women’s golf team, so she practiced with the men’s team, coached by Dick McGuire. She played in the 1957 William H. Tucker Intercollegiate, a co-ed tournament at the time, which McGuire started in 1955. Olliges credits McGuire with her becoming such an avid golfer, which she remains to this day.
“I just want to give back to the University that gave me so much,” said Olliges, who was also an Albuquerque Highland High School graduate. “UNM gave me an education and a lot of good memories.”
UNM SOUTH NAMED TOP CAMPUS COURSE
In the Summer 1999 issue of New England Financial Journal, the Championship Golf Course at UNM was rated the Number One college course open to nonmembers. The article, “College Courses,” by Brian McCallen, used Golf magazine’s “Top 100 You Can Play” list (updated in May 1998) to determine the top public courses in the nation affiliated with college campuses. UNM South was declared the best of the survey.
According to the article, “Convenient to the airport in Albuquerque is the University of New Mexico, and its Championship Course is the top-rated college course in America.
“Known locally as the UNM South Course, this hilly, windswept links, with its fine views of the Albuquerque skyline and volcanic cliffs to the west, will seek out any weakness in your game and exploit it.
“Not that the gallery won’t keep things interesting. Jackrabbits will observe your comings and goings, while roadrunners, coyotes and rattlesnakes also make an occasional appearance.”
The top four college courses, according to the poll are:
1. The Championship Golf Course – University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M.
2. Taconic Golf Club – Williams College, Williamstown, Mass.
3. Karsten Creek Golf Club – Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla.
4. University Ridge Golf Club – University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisc.
Heading North on I-25 take the Rio Bravo exit 220. Turn East onto University Blvd and drive approximately one mile to the golf course. Heading South on I-25 take the Sunport Blvd exit 221. Follow the Sunport Blvd East to University Blvd. Turn South onto University Blvd, and follow the road to the golf course. The drive will be approximately a mile and a half. Heading West leaving the airport on Sunport Blvd, turn South onto University Blvd. This will take you to the golf course, which is approximately a two mile drive.
For more information on the UNM Championship Course, click here.