Lobos’ Davie to Get Golf-Club Membership 0

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) Dec. 2, 2011 — Bob Davie, the University of New Mexico’s new football coach, will get a country-club membership has part of his compensation package — but local golfers are asking, at which one?

There are only three country clubs  in Albuquerque: Four Hills Country Club, Tanoan Country Club and Albuquerque Country Club.

Which one would be a good fit for the former Notre Dame coach-turned-broadcaster charged with turning around the worst team in Division I football? You decide:

Four Hills Country Club, in the far Southeast Heights, is by far the best club layout in town. Hilly, surrounded by rambling ranch-style 1960s and 70s homes, it lies in a fashionable area. Four Hills has all the amenities, tennis courts, swimming pool and formal dining room.

The downside is that Four Hills has a declining golf membership, driven by a tsunami of debt that past managers  took on to pay for a new irrigation system and to rebuild two golf holes — right before the economy tanked.

Albuquerque Country Club, nestled south and west of downtown, is the city’s oldest and is home to Albuquerque’s “old’ money.

It is surrounded by old, majestic housing stock in the Country Club and Huning Castle neighborhoods. The club’s main dining room was recently renovated to keep up with the bustling coat-and-tie business-lunch crowd from nearby Downtown. ACC is  heavy with old-school perks and service staff.

The downside is that while ACC’s tree-lined fairways make for a pleasant walk, its 18-hole layout is pancake-flat. Its members were once indisputably the movers and shakes of the city, and many still are, but demographically ACC’s membership is significantly older.

The no-brainer is Tanoan Country Club, the city’s newest club,  up in the far, far Northeast Heights and home to the city’s “new” money. Tanoan, built in the 1980s, lies within the walls of a gated community. Its 27 holes sprawl across significant elevation changes, making Tanoan tough, tight and challenging. Great views abound.

Tanoan’s housing stock is large and spacious, tending toward columns, arches and vaulted ceilings befitting the city’s newly anointed football royalty. Its clubhouse has the bustling feel of a center of the city’s club-related commerce.  Its membership is heavy on brokerage, real-estate, insurance and financial services professionals who inhabit the glass buildings of Uptown Albuquerque — the very people the new football coach likely needs to cultivate as boosters.

But there is a dark horse: The struggling University of New Mexico Championship Golf Course near the airport.

Recently, a focus group comprising friends of the golf course, including a past UNM president, asked why UNM doesn’t insist that its alumni and UNM athletic fundraising events bet held at the UNM course, which is under the gun from the regents to reduce its operating deficit and start showing a profit.

Although it is a daily-fee course, with sketchy food service and infrastructure problems, UNM has one of the best layouts in the state and has a history with the NCAA.

If Davie were to become associated with the UNM golf course it would go a long way to plugging him into the soul of Loboland, and would help UNM stave off pressure to sell or close the golf course. It could be the kind of win-win that would hasten Davie’s acceptance into his new community.

— Dan Vukelich

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Dan Vukelich, former editor of ABQ Free Press and Sun Country Golf magazine, is editor of NewMexicoGolfNews.com. He's a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and the Golf Travel Writers of America. Reach him at dan@newmexicogolfnews.com

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