ABQ Men’s Championship Goes Out of Town 0 18

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) June 14, 2011 — The 67th annual Albuquerque City Men’s Golf Championship will not be played on the city’s municipal courses because the Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department could not come to terms with the event’s organizer, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Instead, the event will be held at Desert Greens Golf Course and the Isleta Eagle Golf Course July 2-4.

“Tournament director Colby Reddoch said the Golf Management Division of Albuquerque City Parks and Recreation wanted to charge twice as much for greens fees as last year, and he opted to move the 54-hole event,” Journal golf writer mark Smith wrote.

Reddoch said the city charged him $15 per player for greens fees the last two years, but upped that  to $30 a player this year,” Smith’s piece continued.

“Tim Martinez, assistant golf superintendent for City Parks and Recreation, said the $30 fee is $2 less than its usual charge for other tournaments. He said he’s only been in his position for six months, and he didn’t know how much the city charged the event last year,” Smith wrote.

Martinez is the former spa manager at Las Campanas in Santa Fe. In his past position, he had nothing to do with golf, growing grass or golf maintenance, a former employee there told us.

Martinez reports to Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department Director Barbara Baca and her lieutenant, Sandy Zuschlag, who last year demoted the former Golf Division head, Len Berg, to run Puerto del Sol’s maintenance operations before moving Berg to Los Altos recently in a shift of maintenance supervisors.

***

Bob McCannon, president of the Ladera West Neighborhood Association, is like a dog with a bone on the question of trying to account for where hundreds of thousands of dollars in General-obligation bond money earmarked for Ladera have gone.

Here’s the text of his recent e-mail blast to the neighborhood. In full disclosure, he accurately references a meeting I attended at which supporters of Ladera sought to persuade Albuquerque City Council Budget Committee President Ken Sanchez to demand a full, independent audit of Parks and Recreation Department spending of GO bond funds.

Here’s McCannon’s e-mail:

“If you are getting this message, the welfare of Ladera Golf Course affects you or your property’s value.

“In the beginning of May, Dan Vukelich, well-known local golf journalist, and I began receiving reports about how Ladera Golf Course (LGC) was in poor shape.

“This would have been normal, except LGC had just spent $750,000 of a bond that was passed to improve the course. So, we played the course on May 5th. I took pictures which I posted (here).

“Two weeks later, I played it again and took pictures of the greens at Ladera and Desert Greens, a local private course. Compare them for yourself. They are posted (here).

LGC is terrible, especially when compared to a nearby course that had the same weather conditions as LGC and is private (no bond money for Desert Green). A few months ago, I had asked you good people to send emails to the mayor about LGC, which many of you did.

“Thanks. Dan also wrote several articles which added fuel to the fire. Councilor Ken Sanchez has also been helpful. To make a long story short. We now have a new head greenskeeper, David Salas. People who know him and who know golf, say he is great. I have met him, and he seems dedicated, knowledgeable and sincere.

“That’s the good news. The bad is that even with the help of our board lawyer, we were not able to get any significant details about how the $750,000 was spent. It seems that the city’s accounting system simply does not work. I am not kidding!

“Hard to believe? Yup, but those are facts. The further bad news is that the Parks and Recreation Department, which administers the Golf Division, still is led by administrators who know little about golf, and they cannot get along with the golf experts they hire to run the golf program, who either quit or are fired. These are the people who administrate the greens fees and the money from the golf bonds – amazing – but more of those pesky facts.

Let’s “hope” the newest bond ($1.5 million) for the new LGC irrigation system will be spent wisely ….”

Elsewhere …

… All-WAC Aggie golfer Tim Madigan missed the U.S. sectional qualifier cut in Dallas, but Aggie alumnus Matthew Edwards will be teeing off at Congressional Country Club on Thursday.

Edwards, who turned pro out of New Mexico Mexico State University in 2008 after using up his eligibility, qualified in the June 6 sectional qualifier in Glendale,. Calif., tying for low medalist and winning one of four qualifying spots.

One shot from a qualifying spot was Jeffrey Roth of Farmington, N.M. Charlie Wi, who has competed on the PGA Tour, also missed the Glendale cut. In his sectional qualifier, Madigan had a good ball-striking day but was frustrated by the Dallas Athletic Club greens, said his caddie-dad, Steve Madigan.

At Congressional, Edwards has an 8:50 a.m. tee time Thursday and a 2:30 p.m. tee time Friday. He is paired with two other qualifiers.

— Dan Vukelich

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Sierra Del Rio to Shutter for Two Months 0 126

Sierra del Rio Golf Course

Sierra Del Rio Golf Course, which restricted play in December to Thursday through Sunday only, will close for two months after the New Year.

The temporary closure of the 18-hole Elephant Butte golf course was announced in an email Sunday. The golf course’s food and beverage operation, also will close. Plans are to reopen on March 1, the course said.

“The course is in reasonably good condition but we want it to be in the best shape possible when we reopen,” a golf shop employee said Sunday. Maintenance crews will devote the downtime to earth and drainage work to repair damage to native areas off the playing surfaces caused by heavy rains in September, the employee said.

Sierra Del Rio, a Richard Phelps design, is the centerpiece of a retirement- and second-home community near the Rio Grande in Southern New Mexico. Its director of golf is Guy Wimberly, who retired to Elephant Butte after decades running Arroyo Del Oso Golf Course in Albuquerque. Wimberly had no comment on the closure on Sunday.

Sierra Del Rio reduced playing days earlier this month. Winter is typically playable in Southern New Mexico, where daily highs reach into the 50s and 60s.

Sierra Del Rio is part of the Turtleback Mountain Resort. It opened in 2007 on the footprint of the old Oasis Golf Resort and is the nearest golf course to Spaceport America, where Virgin Galactic plans to fly tourists to the edge of space.

The renovated course and new homes built near it provided a boost to the local economy, but homebuilding and rounds played suffered following the 2008 housing collapse.

Dan Vukelich is editor of NewMexicoGolfNews.com. Reach him at dan@newmexicogolfnews.com.