Ray of Hope for Keeping UNM Championship GC Open? 0 4

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) March 25, 2011 — There were hopeful signs UNM may stay the course on the Championship Golf Course when the Board of Regents meet Monday.

Two sources with knowledge of what the regents and the administration have been saying about the course in recent days told New Mexico Golf News.com that they have been told now may not be the time to close or sell the course.

Why? The UNM Championship course sits on valuable land next to the Albuquerque International Sunport, near related air-freight facilities and, importantly, close to the Mesa del Sol development.

Selling now, before the economy recovers, would be basically giving the golf course’s land away at a rock-bottom price. Additionally, the university may be willing to listen to a growing chorus of voices urging the university to revamp how it runs its two courses — the 18-hole championship course and the 9-hole North Course.

George Trujeque, director of golf at UNM, had high hopes several years ago when ground was broken on the 5-mile-by-5-mile Mesa del Sol live-work community that UNM would reap increased corporate play and memberships as Mesa del Sol grew.

The poor economy of the last two years scaled back Mesa del Sol, but on March 18 the developer, Forest City Covington,  announced it was restarting work on its residential component, KOB TV reported.

Mesa del Sol got further good news on Thursday when a chip-making engineering support services company announced was moving its headquarters there.

In light of the nascent future of the huge Mesa del Sol development parcel just southeast of the golf course, UNM may have realized selling now is just simply a bad business decision.

For what it’s worth, here are our recommendation for the course:

Exempt UNM Championship from the suffocating strictures of UNM’s personnel and vending and workforce rules. Privatize the course and allow a quality golf-management company to run the course profitably, and get  a food-and-beverage vendor in there that will attract, rather than repel diners.

— Dan Vukelich

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Ewart Wins Euro Ladies Tour Qualifier 0 5

(MURCIA, SPAIN) Jan. 20, 2011 — Former Lobo golfer Jodi Ewart won the Q School event to gain full status on the 2012 Ladies European Tour. She had already won full status on LPGA Tour.

Ewart claimed first place in the Euro qualifier on Thursday in Murcia, Spain, finishing five rounds on the La Manga North and South courses at 11-under, edging Swiss amateur Anais Maggetti by two shots. Ewart, 24, held the top spot for the final four rounds.

“I mean, fourth on the LPGA and now winning the LET; it’s a pretty good off-season if you ask me,” the Yorkshire, England, native said. “It feels good and I’m really looking forward to this year.”

Ewart heads home to Florida before beginning her inaugural LPGA Tour season Feb. 9, at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in Victoria, Australia.

The interview below was shot by us as she finished her Lobo golf career.

— Dan Vukelich

PING CEO: Change the Golf Ball, Save the Courses 0 4

(PHOENIX) Jan. 3, 2012 –The chairman and CEO of Ping says three different balls should be approved by rule-makers — one longer, one the same as and one shorter than balls currently approved for play.

Shorter balls could then be mandated as a condition of play on classic courses hosting PGA Tour events — keeping them competitive. Longer balls could be allowed for amateur play. Ball distance could even be factored into handicaps — like course slope ratings, says PING head John Solheim.

The proposal is a radical departure from the principle underlying the Rules of Golf that a single ball with a single distance limit be played by players at all levels, even though many golf authorities believe the length of the modern golf ball is the single biggest factor in making some of the great courses of the 19th and 20th centuries obsolete for professional play.

In a letter to the USGA and the R&A, Solheim proposed  a “Ball Distance Rating System” to categorize balls into three distance categories. “This concept addresses the unique talents of the top 0.1 percent of the world’s golfers without hurting the other 99.9 percent,” Solheim said.

A “silver dot” rating could apply to balls that conform to the current distance limits, a “gold dot” rating to balls that are longer (perhaps 30 yards longer), and a “bronze dot” rating for balls that are shorter than today’s ball limit (again, maybe 30 yards shorter),” Solheim said.

“More BDR levels could be added, if needed, to address future increases in driving distance by Tour professionals,” he said.

“Most courses hosting professional tour events were built with, or have added, sufficient length to challenge the world’s best golfers. Perhaps a small number of tournaments, those played at some of the game’s classic courses, would find it exciting to put the original design elements of the layout back in play by requiring shorter rated golf balls,” he said.

Higher handicappers could play a longer ball to make them competitive against longer courses, Solheim said.

Click here for John Solheim’s complete statement.