Ladera Showing Progess? 0 4

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) April 13, 2011 — Albuquerque’s West Side municipal course is top-dressing and aerating, but it would be hard to tell.

Ladera Chipping GreenAt a time when most courses in the metro area are greening up nicely, Ladera remains largely brown, dead and in general disarray.

The accompanying photo of Ladera’s practice chipping green (taken April 13 and facing southwest) shows top-dressing sand application has occurred — but it also highlights significant dead sections of the green. By contrast, an area in the foreground, which slopes toward a pond near the clubhouse, would qualify as casual water during tournament play.

The pattern of dead green segments, bare fairway spots and mudholes is repeated throughout the golf course — due in part to uneven watering by the course’s 31-year-old city-installed irrigation system.

Players, concessionaires and the city’s Golf Advisory Board have for years have specifically complained about the chronically poor conditions of the range and practice putting and chipping greens.

Ladera is now in roughly its 16th year of poor conditions as a new irrigation system awaits construction bidding and possible installation this fall — two years after voters approved the money.

Vote in our poll on what you think is going on at Ladera Golf Course by clicking here or on the link to the far right of the menu on this page.

Click on the photo to zoom in and examine details of the practice green’s condition.

— Dan Vukelich

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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 Reach him at