Katie Kempter Posts 2nd Hawaii Open Win 0 22

(TURTLE BAY, Hawaii)  — Dec. 19, 2011. Albuquerque’s Katie Kempter shot a final-round, 9-under-par 63 over the Palmer Course at Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu Sunday to finish the 54-hole Turtle Bay Hawaii State Open Golf Tournament at 12-under.

Her round was bogey-free, with nine birdies and nine pars. “It was really fun; I kept making every putt — some of them around 20-feet long — for birdie or to save par,” Kempter said of the 9-under final round. She won the same event in December 2009 as a newly minted LPGA Tour rookie.

“It was a really odd feeling. I wanted the thrill to never end, yet at the same time, I was hoping I could finish the round with a good score.”

Kempter earned  $2,500 for the win. Kempter, a Sandia High School and Denver University standout, is a professional who plays on the Futures Tour.

Kempter failed to earn enough in 2011 to keep her LPGA Tour status going into the 2012 season and did poorly in an early stage of LPGA Q School, but she retains status on the Futures Tour. She plans to try to Monday-qualify for some LPGA Tour events in 2012.

— Courtesy of Norm Guenther, Hawaii Golf News and Travel

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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.