ABQ’s Four Hills CC Restructures Debt

FHCC Returning from the Brink

Elsewhere: Isleta’s GPS, Blake Consults at Cochiti

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) May 11, 2012 — Four Hills Country Club has sold a parcel of land and restructured its debt as part of bid to return the club to financial health.

The club recently closed on sale to the City of Albuquerque of a 3-acre parcel near its irrigation well, which lies off-property northwest of the club. The land around the well near Wagon Train Drive Southeast will be designated as a city park, said Four Hills General Manager Cliff Hutchinson.

The club also gained permission from its first mortgage holder, Union Central Life, to incur a second mortgage up to $2 million. Any future subordinate debt will be incurred through a new entity, the Four Hills Capital Fund.

The Four Hills Capital Fund was created to consolidate $700,000 in previously unsecured debt held by two groups of  46 current and past club members. In past years, the members had previously pledged amounts varying from $5,000 to $25,000 to pay off older club debt, including a note once held by the financial institution formerly known as First Community Bank.

“The restructuring makes our debt more manageable,” Hutchinson said. “We have an aggressive, creative board and a large group of members who are committed to the club.”

In about 2003, Four Hills had about 530 golfing members and about 200 dining members. That fell to about 200 golfing members by 2010.

Membership now stands at 280 golfing members and 187 dining members. The club is currently engaged in an aggressive membership-recruitment drive, said Membership/Marketing Director Tracey Fine.

The club’s food and beverage operations have gone from a $30,000 net loss to a $93,000 net profit in the last two years, Hutchinson said.

In its heyday, Four Hills hosted professional golf events, including the LPGA Tour’s Swing Parade events in 1961 and 1962, won by Betsy Rawls and Mickey Wright, and the Sunwest Bank Charley Pride Senior Classic from 1986 to 1991, whose winners included Chi Chi Rodriquez, Lee Trevino, Bob Charles and Gene Littler.

By 2010, Four Hills appeared to be in a death spiral of declining membership, member assessments and deepening debt and had become virtually a daily-free course open to the public. “That was ill-conceived and I put a stop to that as soon as I got here,” Hutchinson said.

— Dan Vukelich

Elsewhere:

Isleta Golf Club’s new GPS system is creating a buzz. The system has touch-screen capability that allows a player to trace a route of play on a hole, giving yardage to various waypoints, such as the edge of the rough or the end of a fairway. Isleta’s Mesa and Lakes nines’ conditions are healthy.

Kenny Blake, former Towa Golf Resort head professional and current equipment rep for Adams Golf and other lines, is consulting for Pueblo de Cochiti Golf Course.

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