Sale of Golf Course Closed on Feb. 14
Desert Greens Golf Course in Paradise Hills has a new owner.
John Bailey, president of Yukon & Associates of Albuquerque, an electrical controls company, closed on the purchase of the golf course on Feb. 14. The previous owner was Ronnie Meng Jr.
Bailey said he plans to rename the course Paradise Hills Golf Course, similar to the property’s original name, Paradise Hills Golf Club.
[The purchase price was not disclosed.]
The 18-hole course opened in 1963 to serve the surrounding residential community of Paradise Hills, a small, isolated enclave of ranch-style homes well outside the western edge of the Albuquerque Metro area at the time.
Surrounded by the City of Albuquerque, Paradise Hills lies in unincorporated Bernalillo County. It had 4,256 residents in 2010, according to that year’s Census, but has grown significantly since then.
“We’re just getting our feet on the ground and the course needs a lot of TLC,” Bailey said when asked about his vision for the golf course. “We’re still developing the future of the facility.”
He said the purchase was not exactly impulsive but he acknowledged it was preceded by “minimal” research.
“I’ve known for awhile that the course was up for sale and that a sale fell through in early January,” he said. “That’s when I got involved. It looked like a good opportunity.”
Bailey is a golfer. When asked what his handicap is, he said, “my entire golf game.”
Desert Greens’ Water Burden
Desert Greens relies on municipal water and has struggled in recent years under the burden of water costs.
When the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority took over water service to the course from New Mexico Utilities a few years ago, the golf course’s annual water bill went from $250,000 a year to about $750,000.
[In a typical July, for example, watering the course for 20 minutes in the early evening can require up to 1 million gallons. During the hottest summer months, that can amount to $84,000 a month. The golf course accrued an unpaid water bill of $360,000. That debt was paid off before the change in ownership.]
[Desert Greens started out as a 140-acre tree-lined parkland course, but over the years, to cut down on water and maintenance costs, the previous management aggressively reduced the turfed areas and replaced grass with xeriscaping.]
[That helped Desert Greens reduce its annual water usage from about 180 million gallons to 100 million gallons, said David Morris, spokesman for the water utility.]
Desert Greens’ Future
Industry insiders contacted by New Mexico Golf News said that if Desert Greens can manage its water costs in a time of drought and service its debt, if any, during a time of rising interest rates, its future could be bright. It lies in the path of strong housing growth that is seeing an influx of newly arriving retirees attracted by new West Side retirement communities..
The only other metro-area golf course on the west side of the Rio Grande is Ladera Golf Course, an Albuquerque muni more than five miles away. Santa Ana Golf Club, run by Santa Ana Pueblo, is more than 11 miles away. Across the river, Sandia Golf Club is six miles away.
Former Amateur Association Home
During peak season, Desert Greens employs roughly 50-60 people. It has a golf shop, driving range, snack bar and banquet facility.
For many years, the Sun Country Amateur Golf Association was housed in offices attached to the banquet facility. That changed a few years ago, when SCAGA and the Sun Country PGA Section combined some operations and relocated to what is now called the Sun Country Golf House at 2316 Southern Blvd., Rio Rancho.
As recently as 2004, the Fodors/Golf Digest “Best Places to Place” guide gave the former Paradise Hills Golf Club three out of a possible five stars. Reviewers called the golf course “a pleasant surprise” and a “very nice course with open fairways.”
Originally built to traverse 6,801 yards, Desert Greens now plays 5,402 yards from the forward tees and 7,043 from the tips. The golf course was designed by Red Lawrence, the same architect who designed the University of New Mexico Championship Golf Course.
Other courses designed by Lawrence include: Desert Forest Golf Club in Carefree, Ariz.; The Wigwam in Litchfield Park, Ariz.,; Tubac Golf Resort south of Tucson; Havasu Island Golf Course in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
[The article was updated on March 8, 2018. Updated information is in paragraphs in brackets]
Dan Vukelich, editor of New Mexico Golf News, is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and the Golf Travel Writers of America. If you have golf news or if a hole-in-one was scored at your course, reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org