Ladera Sprucing Up Nicely 0 6

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) July 10, 2011 — To give credit where due, the round robin of shifting city superintendents has been a good thing for Ladera Golf Course.

The arrival of David Salas at Ladera from Los Altos coincided with a blast of warmth that got grass growing and started filling in winter kill, but Salas’ handiwork is becoming visible.

Dead spots in fairways that had nothing to do with winter kill are filling in and troublesome green segments are green again. The first sign of a turnaround was the putting green and chipping green, which healed from chronic neglect under the previous superintendent, who was moved to Puerto del Sol.

Word is that the concessionaries, Sam and Wright Simmerly in the golf shop, and Billy Moya in the restaurant, are tickled with the progress. Rounds are up and it appears they may finally reap the fruits of their labor in building a loyal clientele while Ladera reached its nadir in conditioning over the last several years.

If you see Salas, give him a kind word. It must have taken a lot of swallowing hard before he agreed to leave the comfort of Los Altos for Ladera.

— Dan Vukelich


A fundraiser to help Rio Rancho’s Tim Madigan compete as an amateur nationally will be held at 7 p.m. July 16 in the lounge at Chamisa Hills Club Club. Chamisa Hills Professional Erik Harp is the organizer. Funds will be administered through the Sun Country Amateur Golf Association, under USGA rules governing protection of a competitor’s amateur standing while seeking financial support.

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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