El Paso may truly be a part of Texas but it’s a world away from just about everything else in the Lone Star State, in a different time zone and set like it is at the end of the Texas frontier and the gateway to both Mexico and New Mexico. It’s a vibrant city that’s easily accessible from just about anywhere in the United States, a true golf destination.
It’s also the home to a high-desert terrain of sand and rock and cactus and scrub brush that’s perfect for a target-style golf course, an oasis of green amid the earth tones and dust devils. And because of El Paso’s weather, golfers can tee it up year round and get different challenges depending on the seasons and the wind.
The area’s premium course is Butterfield Trail Golf Club, the only public Tom Fazio-designed track in Texas. It’s a blast to play and has been ranked as high as the No. 3 Best Municipal Course by Golfweek magazine.
Butterfield Trail GC, a par-72 playing at 7,307 yards from the championship tees, is routed across 175 acres on property owned by the El Paso International Airport and is managed by KemperSports. It opened in June 2007 and has enjoyed a full tee sheet ever since.
Fazio’s design takes advantage of the distinctive desert topography, including natural sand dunes and native flora and fauna, which highlight the Southwest’s natural beauty.
There’s more than 55 feet of elevation changes on the site. Most of the greens at Butterfield Trail GC are raised, and there are knolls, a few blind shots and plenty of bunkers, including vast waste areas. Sections of the course have a links-link feel and others are desert, target golf tests. The whole course flows together in dual loops around two large lakes.
The course’s individual challenges are unique and throw something at the golfer that constantly demands their attention and focus.
The front-nine is a little longer from each of the five tee boxes and a couple or three strokes more difficult while the back-nine has more character, is more scenic and has some outstanding holes. Each hole is named for a different stop on the historic 1858 Butterfield Overland Mail Company, which carried mail and passengers from Missouri to San Francisco during the mid-1800s. Part of the original trail used runs through the property.
Butterfield Trail GC’s par-3s may be its best holes. The 10th is one of the most beautiful holes on the course; from the tee, you get a real links feel with the sand dunes and bunkering left of the green. You can see most of the golf course from the elevated tee on the par-3 17th, which overlooks the hole’s large putting surface 233 yards away.
Butterfield Trail GC features an incredible design that embraces players of all skill levels while making a new entry into the definition of desert golf. Fazio bats 1,000 here and the fact that it’s a municipal course gives it an even bigger thumbs-up.