First-Time Site Las Campanas Offers More Than World-Class Golf September 25, 2017 | SANTA FE, N.M. By Tom Mackin

The Club at Las Campanas features two Jack Nicklaus Signature courses: the Sunrise Course and the Sunset Course. (USGA/Kirk H. Owens)

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Hosting a USGA championship is no small undertaking. But The Club at Las Campanas, host site of the 12th USGA Women’s State Team Championship, actively sought out the responsibility.

“The members are very proud of their club and the community,” said Al Antonez, the club’s general manager and chief operating officer. “They wanted to share this special place with the world.”

The private club, which boasts 725 members from all 50 states and Puerto Rico, celebrated its 25th anniversary earlier this month. The championship is being contested on the Sunrise Course, one of Las Campanas’ two Jack Nicklaus Signature layouts – the Sunset Course is the other course on property – beginning on Tuesday.

“These two courses are not that well known to golfers around the country,” said Antonez. “But I think they are two of Nicklaus’ best designs, period. I think that anyone who plays them is left with the same impression.”

More than 200 club members are volunteering during the Women’s State Team, while another 55 are serving as ambassadors to teams they “adopted” through a bidding process that helped raise scholarship funds for club employees and their children.

“Having never been through this before, the members did not know what to expect,” said Antonez. “I think they are excited and thrilled to have the chance to participate in hosting a national championship.”

This is only the second USGA championship in New Mexico, joining the 1999 Women's Amateur Public Links at Santa Ana Golf Course in Santa Ana Pueblo.

The Club at Las Campanas boasts a top-notch equestrian center featuring a 90-stall barn and 68,000 acres of open land. (Courtesy The Club at Las Campanas)

The only luxury master-planned community in Santa Fe, The Club at Las Campanas is built on 4,700 acres, leaving room for an array of other activities in addition to golf. An equestrian center includes a 90-stall barn, a 32,000-square-foot indoor riding hall, large outdoor jumping rings and an all-purpose arena, plus access to 68,000 acres of open land and trails.

Horses are fed three times daily, blanketed and unblanketed as weather necessitates, and provided with on-site night watch and emergency assistance.

“I want to come back in my next life as a Las Campanas horse,” said Colleen Edwards, the club’s membership director, laughing.

For humans, there’s a 30,000-square-foot fitness center and spa, which includes an indoor and outdoor pool. An indoor performance center is located at the practice facility.

Given its desert environment, the club is focused on being conscientious stewards of the land, with a special emphasis on water conservation.

“We’ve reduced the amount of irrigated turf on both courses and replaced the clay on our tennis courts with a synthetic clay,” said Edwards. “We’ve also replaced the footing at the equestrian center with a synthetic version. Every little bit helps.”

Located about an hour’s drive north of Albuquerque, the community is only 15 minutes away from downtown Sante Fe.

“That’s one of the main attractions for our members,” said Antonez. “Sante Fe’s culture, the history, the arts … everything the city has to offer is very appealing.”

Perhaps the most prized amenities at The Club at Las Campanas are the most natural ones: memorable sunrises and sunsets over the surrounding Sangre de Cristo and Jemez Mountain ranges.

“I don’t think people are looking for big-city life when they come here,” said Edwards. “They’re looking for exactly what they’re getting.”

Tom Mackin is an Arizona-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites.

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