ABQ’s Katie Kempter Updates Her Futures Tour Travels 0 4

It’s been a fun and more or less successful first half to the Futures Tour season. I’ve had two, top-ten finishes in 9 starts and sit in a position to still move into the Top 20 on the money list where I would be exempt into the final stage of LPGA Q School the first week of December.

To be honest, I’ve battled my swing the entire time since the middle of May and am just now letting myself play and trust that the swing is there; I don’t need to fuss over it, I need to believe I have the ability to advance the ball from A to B.

But, enough of that! I’m learning to score and play without that feeling of “I need to make this cut” or “I need to shoot 68, etc.” I’m learning a lot about myself too, like how to handle five weeks straight in competition (a mental battle, above all else), what works best as far as preparing for the course any given week, what to do during hours of rain delays and how my body reacts to a different bed every six nights or so.

I love driving, which is a good thing given that since May 14 I’ve put more than 6,000 miles on my car. What an experience this has given me. I’ve driven from New Mexico through the midwest, north of Toronto but still in the U.S., into Toronto, down to Vermont and I am now in the Nebraska.

All of that in a matter of two months. I still have a lot more to go and then I have to get my car back to New Mexico … not sure when or how that’s going to happen!

It’s amazing to me how big this country is and how much beauty it has to offer. I’d have to say my favorite scenery so far has been Vermont. Like Colorado and New Mexico, it has mountains but it’s green EVERYWHERE!

While they aren’t quite as tall, they do change in elevation of more than 4,000 feet above the ground level. In my mind, being from a mountainous state, those qualify as mountains. More on Vermont a bit later.

I’ve met some amazing people along the course of this trek. I had wonderful housing in Iowa, Michigan and now here in Connecticut. My pro-am partners in both Michigan and Connecticut were amazing. I hope to continue a friendship with all of them (housing and pro-am partners).

The most fun activity I have done outside the course but involving the Tour happened this past Monday. Libby and I participated in a closest-to-the-pin contest with Donny Marshall, former U Conn and NBA player and current commentator for the Celtics, and also played a game of HORSE.

Luckily, I won the closest to the pin and Libby gave Donny a run for his money in HORSE. I was out pretty quickly, my shot had a bit of rust on it. Ha! We used marshmallows for the closest to the pin contest and it was held on the gym floor of the Basketball Hall of Fame in Massachusetts. Donny is an awesome guy and a class act.

Later in the evening, we participated in another closest-to-the-pin contest at the New Britain Rock Cats baseball game with three of their players. I didn’t win that one, but it was still a lot of fun. … I had the privilege of throwing out the first pitch along with a few other people, including Libby and another tour player. I’ll be honest, I was more nervous throwing out that pitch than I have been in other circumstances on the course in competition….

I’m currently in another five-week stretch of tournaments but have elected to take the middle week off and return to Albuquerque to work with Bill (Harvey), sleep in my own bed, see my family and recharge the batteries before the final four events of the season.

Speaking of time off, we did get one week off last week and I spent it in Vermont with Libby and her family. I got there July 5 and spent most of my time at their camp (cabin) on Lake Champlain. Absolutely beautiful! Thursday, we played a two-person scramble with Molly Aronsson and Marcela Leon (two girls also on Futures Tour) at Country Club of Vermont. We walked 18 holes on a course with quite a few hills. I mention that only because of what I’m about to write…

We finished playing around 4:30 in the afternoon and Libby and I had planned on hiking Camel’s Hump (second tallest mountain in Vermont), a 7.4-mile round trip hike with a 2,300-foot elevation change. It would take 5 hours to do the hike. We decided, why not?!

We grabbed a sandwich, crackers, cheese, chips and some water and began the trek up the mountain a little after 6:15 in the evening. Long story short, we got up at sunset, could see for more miles that I can count and then hiked back down the mountain in the dark (we had one small flashlight). It was one of the most fun days I’ve ever had!

I’ll be in New Hampshire next week before heading home July 26 and then return to the Tour in Harrisburg the Aug. 1 for events there, Richmond, Georgia and close the season in Albany.

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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.