Road Hole Shorts

Golf Design, golf, golf, GOLF

NMSU’s 3rd hole – aggress or finesse?

By Mary Armstrong For the

Posted: 05/28/2011 01:00:00 AM MDT


I have a love-hate relationship with the 3rd hole at NMSU Golf Course. This leads me to believe it is a very good golf hole – at least for me. The position of the 3rd hole – after a simple opening par 4 and a relatively demanding par 3 and before a moderately long par 5 – seems perfect. The 3rd is a finesse hole – again, at least for me.
From the white and gold tees it plays between 335 and 350 yards, and is certainly quite manageable distance-wise for a lower handicap player.

From the tee, the hole doesn’t align perfectly with the middle of the
fairway. I accept this as a nuance in the design – whether it was intended that way, an error in construction or the hole was originally laid out to be straight – it really doesn’t matter and I won’t complain about it because, after all, aiming is one of the first things you are taught in golf. If you’re depending on the golf course to aim you in the correct direction, you should probably stick to driving on the highway.

So, you have to be aware that the tee aims slightly right of the center of
the fairway – almost directly at the green. This is particularly important,
because the ideal position is actually slightly left of center and you
absolutely don’t want to hit it down the right side unless you can dependably drive the ball more than 250, but less than 270 yards. Unless you’re playing during the bermudagrass growing season, I don’t think you can depend on the fast fairways for that kind of control.

The ideal tee shot is as much about length as it is direction. In part this is because the distance between two large Mulberry trees 235 yards from the tee is narrower than the width of the green.  These two trees, and a few other supporting cast members,
make for an unusually demanding tee shot. Generally, I try to hit a 200 yard drive to the left edge of the fairway. This position (M-1) puts me squarely in the middle of the corridor that gives me a shot to either side of the green. On this line, I have a distance cushion of 40 yards for my drive. Anything between 175 yards and 21 yards on the edge of the fairway will allow me to hit my approach to either side of the green. If you aren’t particularly comfortable being this precise with your tee ball, the further back (away from the green) you place your tee shot, the easier it is to maneuver your approach over or around those pesky mulberries.

The approach is a bit stressful as well because you need to carry that
yawning bunker in front of the green. Just take plenty of club and make a smooth swing. The green has a substantial pitch from back to front and some pitch to the left (away from “A” mountain). A draw hit into that green by a right hander can pitch and then roll significantly to the left, so aim a little right of the flagstick if you’re a hooker.

The average player using the gold/white tee set probably sees this hole as the most difficult at NMSU. Most of the women I play with in the Ladies Golf Association can’t drive the ball far enough to reach the green in two – even with the fast winter fairways. They also can’t get their drives far enough into the dogleg (W-1) to place their second shot on the right side of the fairway (W-2)to open up the green for their third, which also brings the “new” fairway bunker into play. Most must carry the front bunker with their third shot and hope the ball stops on the green. The average player using these tees has a slower swing speed and therefore neither the trajectory nor the spin to control their ball so effectively. Most end up in either the front bunker or over the

The PGM’er’s and other “flat bellies” just rip it over the trees to within 60 or 70 yards of the green (B-1). The “new” fairway bunker on the left is their only threat as there are only a few small trees to the right and a shot missed there will actually open up the green for the approach.

For us mortals, the third at NMSU should be played conservatively – a big number lurks in the mulberries and sand.

A golf architect in New Hampshire for over 20 years, Armstrong brought her craft to Las Cruces in January 2010. She is the founder of Armstrong Golf Architects, which provides planning, designing, permitting and construction monitoring services for golf course projects. You can comment on her writing and view past articles at her blog:


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