Hobbs to Open New $12 million Golf Complex 0 144

Rockwind Links Hobbs NM

A host of sports celebrities, including PGA Tour legend Lee Trevino, Masters winner Freddie Couples and possibly former NFL star Brian Urlacher, will inaugurate the City of Hobbs, N.M.’s new 27-hole golf facility in late May.

The 27-hole Rockwind Community Links golf complex opens May 18 with a tournament in which Couples will play. Trevino, former Senior Tour player Colbert and LPGA Tour fan favorite Natalie Gulbis will play in another event on May 22, which kicks off with a reception the previous evening at the Zia Park Casino in Hobbs.

The 18-hole championship course and a 9-hole course dubbed “L’il Rock” were designed by Andy Staples, a Scottsdale golf architect. They occupy the site of the former Ocotillo Golf Course, which was razed last year. The $12 million renovation is part of an effort by the City of Hobbs to build new community amenities using tax proceeds from last year’s oil boom. The course’s practice facility will be home to the First Tee of Southeastern New Mexico.

“The city is investing in quality of life and has built a new park and a wellness center,” said Rockwind Director of Golf Linda Howell, formerly the head of golf operations at the Towa Golf Resort in Pojoaque. The 7,100-yard Rockwind championship course minimizes water use. It is built in the style of Scottish-links inspired courses that built along the East Coast of the United States during the early 20th century. It features rock walls lining some fairways, elevated greens, coffin bunkers and a stream winding through the property.

All of the celebrities expected to attend the opening have some connection with New Mexico. Trevino, winner of 58 PGA titles, designed nine holes  at the Rio Rancho Country Club, now called Club Rio Rancho. He also played in money games in Southern New Mexico while working at an an assistant pro at an El Paso driving range. Colbert designed the links at Sierra Blanca. Gulbis was on hand for the opening of the Sierra del Rio Golf Course in Elephant Butte several years ago. Urlacher played football at Lovington High School and the University of New Mexico before playing for the Chicago Bears in the NFL.


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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.

ESPN Tackles Socorro’s El Fego Baca Golf Shoot 0 132

Golfer stands on platform on top of Socorro's M Mountain ready to hit shot

Socorro’s Elfego Baca Golf Shoot was featured by ESPN in an accurate depiction of the painful, exhausting extreme golf event played 4,000 vertical feet down the side of a mountain over and through rattlesnakes, rocks, cactus and biting gnats.

ESPN host Kenny Mayne finished second in the 2013 event, in which players competed to reach a 50-foot-circle near New Mexico Tech Golf Course  down in the valley in the fewest strokes.

You can watch the Elfego Baca Golf Shoot segment here.

The Elfego Baca, named for an sheriff in New Mexico in the 1880 who held of 52 bandits who laid seige to his cabin, is part of Elfego Bacathe annual Socorro Open, a pro and amateur event held each June at the New Mexico Tech Golf Course. Socorro is about 70 miles south of Albuquerque.

Mayne, a former college quarterback-turned-broadcaster, claimed to have tied golf writer Rick Reilly’s score of 19 from several years ago. Mayne was coached on his strategy by El Fego Baca legend and the enduro event’s inaugural winner Mike Stanley, who holds the record of 9 strokes.

In addition to trying to make the descent over treacherous scree, boulders, cactus and snake- and scorpion-infested desert from near the peak of 7,243-foot “M” Mountain in the fewest strokes and with the fewest lost balls, competitors, spotters and officials try urgently to get off the mountain before temperatures exceed 105 degrees.

After his six-hour descent, Mayne said he escaped the event with no injuries, but he didn’t mention the dozens of no-see-um gnat bites most competitors suffer on their necks. The welts typically manifest themselves days after the event.

The editor of New Mexico Golf News and a team from New Mexico Golf TV recorded the event in 2001 for a segment broadcast on the Golf Channel. We concur with Mayne’s assessment, “Thanks for the memories, Socorro, New Mexico, but I’m never coming back.”

Dan Vukelich is editor of NewMexicoGolfNews.com. Reach him at dan@newmexicogolfnews.com