ABQ’s Four Hills CC Restructures Debt 0 88

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


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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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.