Pinon Hills Terrain & Tips

There are yardage cards on the Pinon Hills website, but they do not provide terrain. Almost every green has shelves or tiers with the 9th hole having four shelves. The following information and tips can be joined with the yardage cards.

Hole 1. Downhill tee shot.

Hole 2. Blind tee shot

Hole 3. Blind tee shot. Downhill approach.

Hole 4. Downhill.

Hole 5. Short, but somewhat blind tee shot. Approach over deep desert gully.

Hole 6. Downhill tee shot from furthest tees.

Hole 7. Tee over a little canyon.

Hole 8. Flat tee shot hiding a wide fairway. Then Up hill.

Hole 9. Downhill then uphill. Tee at least two from tips to see hole.

Hole 10. Downhill then a smidge uphill.

Hole 11. Downhill then a smidge uphill.

Hole 12.

Hole 13. Downhill tee shot.

Hole 14. Downhill tee shot.

Hole 15. Green is 22 shoes wide. Tee box matters. Hitting ball on mounds rolls on green. Its almost like playing an island green.

Hole 16. Tee over small slot canyon.

Hole 17. Uphill approach.

Hole 18. Downhill then uphill.

Winning & Sandbagging

To some degree, the term "sandbagging" always finds its way into any handicapped event. "Sandbagging" by definition is proactively posting higher scores than real, to gain an advantage in a golf tournament. Participants who use the term sandbagging in casual conversation are implying factual knowledge that a fellow golfer is a cheater.

Sandbagging does not occur at the Carl Spackler Open, but prior to the event. A participant who accuses a golfer of sandbagging or circulates rumors of sandbagging is implying he watched or experienced cheating prior to the event and ignored it.

The Carl Spackler Open is not designed to reward a golfer who plays better than his statistical averages. It is designed to recognize a single golfer who has played better than everyone else who are all playing against their statistical averages. To win this event, a golfer would almost certainly post scores that are not believable to anyone including himself. THESE UNBELIEVABLE SCORES BY DEFINITION WILL RESEMBLE SANDBAGGING.

Dress Code

Golf shirts along with bermuda shorts. T-shirts, jogging apparel or denim of any kind is prohibited. Only soft spike golf shoes are allowed on the golf course, practice green, and driving range.


The following is a list that you might want to bring along on the trip. These items will not be provided.
1. Shampoo
2. Golf Clubs
3. Cigars & Cigarettes
4. Sunglasses
5. Ball Retriever
6. Medical Tape, Bandaids, Sunscreen, Chapstick
7. Cash
8. Umbrella
10. Bug Spray or Absorbine Jr.
11. Golf Shoes (soft spikes)
12. Golf Clothes (the course requires proper golf attire. Please review dress code note)
13. Golf Gloves (extra for potential rain)
14. Phone Charger
15. Golf Towels, plenty in case it is wet.
16. Golf Balls
17. Belt
18. Evening Clothes
19. Swimsuit.
20. Mow your lawn.
21. GPS Yardage Finder w/ Power Cord
22. Phone numbers of your ride to/from airport.
23. Powder or Boxer Briefs to guard against chaffing.
24. Watch, bracelet, or chain.
25. Print this entire notebook for the airplane.
26. Toothpaste & Toothbrush.
27. Weigh Travel Bag for 50lb Airport limit.
28. Carl Spackler Open baseball hats.
29. Golden Jacket.
30. Mobile Phone Charger w/ Power Cord
31. Music Speaker


The tournament handicapping uses Poststats Points. These points are completely independent of Virtual Tournament handicaps. They will be set and printed a few days prior to the event.


The handicap system is based on posted scorecards to the website, USGA Slope Rating, and yardage played. The USGA Slope Rating is a number (between 55 and 155) given to each tee box in America by the USGA. The number represents the difficulty to the average bogey golfer. The average USGA Slope Rating in America is 115. uses total yardage played and USGA Slope Rating to apply a "course bonus" to each tee box in America. These bonus points are used to level the course difficulty and handicap each golfer participating in the Carl Spackler Open. The course bonus is not used at the Carl Spackler Open since all participants are playing the same course.

Each golfer is required to post 4+ scorecards to participate in the Carl Spackler Open. The handicap system and computer will use the last 15 posted scorecards regardless of year to determine a golfer handicap. The handicap system will omit the best scorecard and four worst scorecards from the previous 15 posted scorecards. It will tally the average number of birdies, pars, bogeys, double-bogeys, and triple-bogeys for each golfer. (Eagles are converted to birdies.)

The "personal profile" for each golfer has a date field for health setbacks. This field is used for heart attacks, strokes, broken legs, surgeries, and anytime past scorecards are not a representation of a golfer's skill level. The computer does not use scorecards prior to the date entered.

The goal of the handicap system is for each participant to score 60 points per round with their course bonus. For each golfer, the computer will use averages per round (birdie, par, bogey, double-bogey, triple-bogey) described above and cross check the database of 250 different "sets of points" for a set of points that will position each golfer to score 60 points. (Remember course bonus is not used at the Carl Spackler Open.)

The chances of one unknown high handicapped golfer dropping 30% of their strokes per hole over a 54-hole period is more than probable. added "target points" to the handicapping system in the winter of 2007. The computer started raising point targets for the best golfers while still rewarding the high handicappers. The lower the stroke handicap, the more target points a golfer will receive. Golfers with a stroke handicap of +8 to +11 receive an elevated target to 62 points per round. Participants with a handicap +6 to +8 strokes are bumped to 63 points per round. Handicaps of +6 strokes have target of 64 points and +5 strokes get 65 points. Golfers with a handicap of +2 are targeted at 65 points per round. Jason Ridgeway presently has a negative stroke handicap and receives 67 points.

In addition to golf skill, golfers who play the same course 70 percent of the time will be given an elevated target of 1 point. This change also came in 2007. These "home course" participants will be given 2 points if they play the same course 90 percent of the time. These golfers statistically slip when leaving their home course. The point upgrade allows the entire tournament field to handicapped equally and remove scoring based on extensive course knowledge. added another target increase in the winter of 2009 as a step to decrease Top 10 volatility and reward participants for posting scorecards. They modified the same target increase in the spring of 2011. Golfers who post scorecards per year (365 days) including past events registered with will receive an additional target point. Point targets will elevate by 1 point for every 4 scorecards posted with a maximum of 5 target points added. Jason Ridgeway's point target jumps to 71 points (A player) and Rick Dosky's (D player) point target jumps to 62 points.

The statisical handicapping detail for each golfer is available online. Golfers can visit the homepage and click "HANDICAPS" in the lower menu. Then click on their name.


The Carl Spackler Open is scored live, however allows both paper scorecard. The mobile website does not require access rights, however mobile scoring does require access. Brian Long and Greg Long can provide access rights to score the tournament.

Greg Garrett, Brian Long, and Greg Long will be managing 8,000 scores. PLEASE CONSIDER THE SCORING TEAM ON YOUR VACATION. Paper scorecards with Mike, Jay, or J.D. are the opposite of clarity. Do not chicken scratch or circle birdies.  

Paper scorecards should have a clear unique name, 18 clearly written numbers, and circled scores to indicate holes with long putt made. Turn in both scorecards when totals are identical.

Mobile live scoring changes 50-year old golf behavior. The cell phone does not strap on the golf cart steering wheel so think about the modified behaviors that will result.

1. Comfort. Carry small cell phones in your pocket or find a traditional space in the golf cart.

2. Battery Charge. Come to the golf course with full charge and your Spackler battery charger.

3. Share. Multiple golfers in your foursome can share the job and battery lives.

4. Integrity. Do not score birdies to grab attention with plans to change it later. Long-term integrity is paramount.

Mobile Website

The Carl Spackler Open will no longer manage communications with printing and distributing of paper. The event has an independent mobile website. This is the letter m followed by a dot. Then poststats dot com. The username and password are both case sensitive. Many phones auto capitalize the first letter when trying to enter a username. Be careful. BOOKMARK THIS WEBSITE ON YOUR PHONE. YOU WILL FORGET THE WEB ADDRESS.

The mobile website is simplified for the actual 96 hour event. It does not have pictures or news. It contains an address book, Leaderboards, scoring, rules, process, notifications, pairings, tee times, and schedule.

Do not test enter scores prior to actual play, however feel free to get comfortable with the information provided.

Pace of Play

�It takes about one hour to play 18 holes of golf. The other 2.5 to 4.5 hours is "logistical positioning" -- getting to the next shots with the right equipment. Any golf tournament including the PGA Tour played by the rules (no gimmies, no fluffing, etc.) is not going to be completed in under 4 3/4 hours. Add hackers and add time.

The slowest group dictates the pace of play for everyone behind them. Any group that gets out of position -- especially early in the day -- will affect many groups after it.

The pairings are designed with "fun" as top priority and "pace of play" as a close second. Skilled golfers should educate and lead by example. Everyone needs to enjoy their round, but allow low handicappers to help move things along.

Raking bunkers for others, fixing divots for others, replacing divots for others, and carrying a pocket full of XL Top-Flites is being someone's caddy. It also is speeding up pace of play. Hitting your own ball first, putting out on occasion, and even putting out of turn while someone is raking a greenside bunker can do wonders for pace of play.

None of the above requires a fellow golfer to play faster between pulling a club from the bag and swinging it. It does imply as a foursome we will work together to play faster. Your foursome is playing slow if you cannot see the foursome in front of you.

Daily Personalized Agenda

The server will send a personalized email to all golfer accounts every morning. The agenda will be personalized to you. It will contain golf course, tee time, playing partners, partner contact information, cart driver, red tee, event itinerary, and other notifications.

The days of printed pairing sheets are over. Its is golfer responsibility to obtain information from their personalized agenda and mobile website.


Roommate Matching System

The Carl Spackler Open rooming list consists of lodging assignments for the event. It must be successful or the event dissolves. There is a system to assigning roommates and it is explained here. The system uses 'preferences' in a logical backward sequence to match up golfers, however there is a human element. This document will share the process, but also includes (1) protections for the roommate matching process and (2) explain why 'highest ranking preferences' do not dictate roommate assignments.

A working roommate matching system with 100 golfers will collect more than 500 ranked roommate preferences.

The first step is to generate a list of golfers who were not selected by any of their fellow registrants. The original referral for a golfer not receiving a preference will be contacted to see if he wants to add him as possible roommate. If that doesn't resolve the issue, golfers not receiving a preference will be offered a full refund and/or single occupancy at an increased cost.

The second step is to match up rookies with their primary preference.

The third and final step is to match up everyone else.

Our rooming list is not started until late cancellations are known, hotels are chosen, and Tuesday night reservations are made. This is generally 3 to 4 weeks prior to the practice round.

Paraphrasing a common statement. "I have a man crush on John and John has a man crush on me. It's simple and we completed our options as such. Why in the hell are we not in the same room?"

Answer: "Preferences are not orders. You are not considering everyone else attending. The Carl Spackler Open must provide a solution for everyone."

Rookies are matched first. So 13 rookies will remove 26 golfers from the pool of available roommates. These rookies and their selection must have matching hotel reservations.

Then a database query is run to generate a list of popular roommates sorted by least popular person. (The most popular roommates are located at the bottom of list.) Roommates are matched in this order, but also use matching hotel reservations and selected preferences.

Power Drinking Pete, Snoring Sam, Crazy Curt, Weird Walter, Quiet Quinton, Chatty Christian are likely at the top in the unpopular portion of the list with 1 or 2 golfers who prefer to room with them. These golfers will be matched and placed on the rooming list. This sets off a chain of events that causes highly ranked matches to become void.

The matching system continues down the list of golfers when it eventually reaches the bottom. The bottom contains two dozen of the most popular available roommates, where flexibility is less necessary and roommate popularity increases.

Example #1: Nobody preferred Quiet Quinton as a roommate, who is a super cool dude. Everyone is focused on others and he receives no preferences. Quinton's referral is contacted to see if he is interested in rooming with Quinton. If not, Quinton is offered a full refund and/or single occupancy.

Example #2: Weird Walter was preferred by one person. Larry. Larry has Weird Walter on his list ranked 15th. Weird Walter has 10 preferences with Larry being 6th on his list. A successful rooming list must ignore Larry's Top 14 preferences and Christian's Top 5 preferences. Weird Walter is matched with Larry. A popular Larry is now removed from 42 preference lists.

Example #3: Charming Charles is cool as a cucumber. He is preferred by 45 fellow participants and 11 have him as their #1. Charming Charles likes everyone, but desperately wants to room with buddy Charismatic Karl. Charles plays defense and provides the bare minimum roommate preferences. He calls Charismatic Karl to ensure they match up preferences. The time comes for very popular Charles to be matched with a roommate, but none of Charming Charles?s preferences are available. They are already matched with Snoring Sam, Power Drinking Pete, and Chatty Christian. Charming Charles is contacted and asked to provide more roommate options, but ultimately is dissatisfied without Charismatic Karl. Charming Charles has a popularity issue that the system leverages. The Carl Spackler Open uses player pairings to address these situations. Charming Charles and Charismatic Karl would experience priority during creation of player pairings.

These examples can frustrate people and that?s understandable. However this is how the Carl Spackler Open has operated for 15 years. We do spend reasonable time looking for the best match. Golfers who do not like the system should not accept these parameters upon registration.

There are 3 roommate protections starting in 2020.

(1) The first was already explained regarding Weird Walter. (2) Single occupancy rooms are now being sold when available. (3) Our event has capital reserves and uses them to make problems go away. Please do not hesitate to contact a Captains Club member during your vacation with an unexpected roommate problem. (There has never been a problem reported that extended beyond obnoxiously unreasonable snoring.)

We encourage suggestions to better our roommate system, but prefer to discuss ideas between August and December. The system will likely be tweaked for 2021.

Fairfield Inn by Marriott

The event fee includes 5 nights (double occupancy) at the Fairfield Inn in Farmington, New Mexico. The hotel includes breakfast, indoor pool, spa. All rooms provide conveniences like sitting areas and refrigerators, plus free WiFi and Smart TVs with satellite channels. Netflix, and microwaves. Breakfast includes eggs, sausage, bacon, yogurt, fruit, made cheese omelets.

The Fairfield Inn is a 2-minute sidewalk to Buffalo Wild Wings and 6-minute drive to the golf course.

Angel Peak

The Angel Peak Scenic Area is 45 minutes from the hotel. The recreation area, more than 10,000 acres of rugged terrain, features Angel Peak (elevation 6,988 feet), colorful badlands and deep canyons.

Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness

The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a rolling landscape of badlands which offers some of the most unusual scenery found in the Four Corners Region. Time and natural elements have etched a fantasy world of strange rock formations made of interbedded sandstone, shale, mudstone, coal, and silt. The weathering of the sandstone forms hoodoos - weathered rock in the form of pinnacles, spires, cap rocks, and other unusual forms. Fossils occur in this sedimentary landform. Translated from the Navajo language, Bisti (Bis-tie) means "a large area of shale hills." De-Na-Zin (Deh-nah-zin) takes its name from the Navajo words for "cranes."

Pinon Hills Golf Course

Pinon Hills Golf Club in Farmington, New Mexico was designed by Ken Dye in 1988 and is owned and operated by the City of Farmington.  Dye carved Pinon Hills out of some arid and rugged Northern New Mexico terrain and did an excellent job of leveraging the natural terrain (arroyos, sand and desert fauna, plateaus, rolling hills, and more) to create a fantastic golf course that is demanding but fair, scenic, and a superb layout.  Pinon Hills claims that they are a "legend in the desert golf landscape" because they are affordable, friendly, fun to play, and hassle free. We would agree with all of that and it's not surprising that some of the awards and accolades for Pinon Hills Golf Course include:

Golfweek's "Best You Can Play in New Mexico" and "#4 Best Municipal Course in the USA"
"#1 Municipal Course in America" by Golf Digest
"#3 Course in New Mexico" by Golfweek

Pinon Hills Golf Course is a true links style desert course with big undulating fairways and greens, views for miles and miles, and lots of signature Ken Dye berms, huge bunkers, and very challenging green complexes.  With a rating of 66.5 to 73.9 and slope of 124 to 139, Pinon Hills is fair but no walk in the park and three putts are waiting to happen.  To remain sane during your round, pick the right set of tee boxes from any of the five and don't bit off more than you can chew.

The first hole sets the stage for what you can expect during your round - an elevated tee box with a forced carry to a downhill dog left contoured and rolling fairway that gets pinched as it leads to a tiered green guarded by water on the right, huge left and right side bunkers, and lots of nasty mounds and swales.  During the rest of your round you'll find natural rock outcroppings, elevation changes, intimidating forced carries, natural areas including natural sand bunkers, deep arroyos, water that comes into play, and huge nasty bunkers.  In addition to all of that, what makes playing Pinon Hills Golf Course a blast are that every hole is a little different, unique, and fun.

Some of the holes that we really enjoyed include:

#5 is a relatively short but tricky 355 yard par 4 with a carry over a natural area off the tee to a rolling and heavily contoured fairway that has another natural that is waiting for your drive plus a kidney shapped tiered green with mounding and swales and a big bunker surrounding three quarters of the green

both of the par threes on the front are great - one is a 199 yard big downhill shot to a guarded green and the other is a 229 downhill shot that is all carry to a big green but with a huge bunker

after #9, an outstanding 589 yard par 5, you'll be ready for a cold beer and maybe some new golf balls
#14 is fun - dramatically elevated tee shot to a wide open fairway that turns right and requires a very accurate approach to avoid the pond,and 4 bunkers

17 is another great par 5 - 549 yards with a fairway that snakes it's way past 5 good sized bunkers and two huge monsters

Most of the fairways are ample off the tee and then they vary from wide to tight.  All of the Pinon Hills Golf Course fairways have lots of slope and countour, ups and downs, berms and swales, and some huge nasty bunkers.  

The greens at Pinon Hills were also in very good condition and they ran fast and true and all are well guarded.  Pinon Hills Golf Course puts a premium on approach shots and putting.  Three putts were common for us thanks to tiers, lots of contour, and undulation.  The greens are raised, a variety of shapes, and most are good sized - from 24 to 42 yards.

Like the greens, the bunkers can also be a challenge - they are strategically placed and range in size from small to huge sprawling multi-fingered monsters.  The sand was a little disappointing - firm, a little gritty, heavy, and thin probably because of the wind wanting to take the sand out of the bunkers.

Due to high elevation of Farmington, golf balls will fly 8 to 10 yards further.

Northern Edge Casino

Northern Edge Navajo Casino is a state of the art Casino that features over 750 slot machines, table games and a deluxe poker room as well as a gift shop full of Navajo apparel, art and logo merchandise perfect for any occasion!. Our Cedar Bow Restaurant offers a variety of delicious sit down dinners. For a quick bite to eat visit our food court.