ABQ Shifts Muni Supers — Hope for Ladera? 0 7

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) May 18, 2011 — City Hall is shifting turf managers of three of the four City of Albuquerque municipal golf courses — notably sending the long-time supervisor at Ladera back to Puerto del Sol, where she worked years ago.

The move was welcome news at Ladera, which has suffered from a combination of poor maintenance practices and a leaky, spotty irrigation system that has left it in the worst condition in years.

For photos of the course taken by the president of the adjacent neighborhood association that depict Ladera’s embarrassing conditions, click here for earlier coverage.

The staff reassignments alone don’t address systemic problems in management, funding and accountability of the city’s golf courses, but they are being received by local golfers as a healthy beginning under the tenure of Mayor R. J. Berry.

“The changes are allowable according to our union contracts and city personnel rules and regulations,” Parks and Recreation Director Barbara Baca wrote in a May 17 memo to city councilors.

“These re-assignments have been done for management reasons.  This management decision will provide for continued quality and affordable golf at all four of our Municipal Golf Courses which are managed by the Parks and Recreation Department.”

The round robin of reassignments is as follows, according to Baca’s memo:

Molly Gallegos moves from Ladera to Puerto del Sol; Robert Trujillo remains at Arroyo del Oso Golf Course; David Salas moves from Los Altos Golf Course to Ladera; Leonard Berg moves from Puerto del Sol to Los Altos.

Berg, formerly the overall head of the city’s golf division, was demoted late last year to manager of the nine-hole Puerto del Sol course following unspecified disagreements with his managers at Parks and Rec.

In meetings of the city’s volunteer Golf Advisory Board prior to his demotion, Berg praised Salas as a capable superintendent who adeptly handled last year’s disruptions at Los Altos from a water utility pipeline extension project.

The reassignments are effective May 24, Baca said in her memo.

NewMexicoGolfNews.com will stay on the Albuquerque muni story with analysis and opinion.

–Dan Vukelich

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Sierra Del Rio to Shutter for Two Months 0 30

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.