New Mexico Golf Gets Major Market Exposure 0 131

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

New Mexico’s top golf courses got significant exposure recently in two of the nation’s largest cities, and the publisher of a leading New England golf magazine and blog is devoting resources to covering golf here and elsewhere in the Southwest.

The Met Golfer, the official magazine of the New York City’s Metropolitan Golf Association, ran a broad overview of golf in New Mexico that also featured the state’s Indian ruins, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Billy the Kid and Roswell aliens.

The magazine, published five times a year, reached 90,000 New York City Metro area golfers. Dan Vukelich of was commissioned by the magazine’s editor, Jeff Neumann, to write the piece. It appeared in the December-January issue. It begins on Page 72.

The magazine used a twistb on the “Breaking Bad” theme for the story illustration, and ran dozens of photos of golf courses, balloons, ruins, Santa Fe, Roswell aliens, Pueblos, turquoise and dessert vistas. Courses mentioned included Black Mesa, Paa-Ko Ridge, UNM Championship, Sandia, Santa Ana, Twin Warriors, Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe, Cochiti and Pinon Hills.

MetGolfer.pdfThe Chicago Tribune ran a Sunday travel section feature on golf in New Mexico over the Labor Day weekend. The story, “New Mexico Golf Courses Primed for Fall,” ran in other Tribune-owned newspapers, including the Orlando Sentinel. Dan Vukelich wrote that article. It focused on New Mexico’s fall months as an ideal time to play here, while courses elsewhere are shutting down for the season.

In December, New England Golf Monthly featured New Mexico as a golf destination as part of its launch of regular coverage of golf in New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. “Our readers in the Northeast have told us they want to know more about the affordable golf in the Southwest,” said New England Golf Monthly Publisher Tim Branco, retained Vukelich as his New Mexico correspondent.

Branco said the New Mexico story will appear in several of his golf publications and go out as an email advisory to all online subscribers of his publications. He publishes New England Golf Monthly, Fairways of Life magazine, Golf Fashion Weekly and the Golf Content Network.

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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 Reach him at

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 Reach him at